Canadian The Weeknd to make history at Super Bowl LV halftime show

The Toronto singer is releasing greatest hits compilation "The Highlights" on Friday to celebrate the occasion

Promo photoshoot for the Super Bowl LV halftime show
The Weeknd has come a long way since releasing his debut mixtape in March 2011 COURTESY NFL

Homeless to Forbes list – and now the Super Bowl halftime show.

The lyric from The Weeknd’s 2016 collaboration with rapper Kendrick Lamar, off his multi-platinum third album ‘Starboy’, will need an update as his career is set to achieve new heights on Sunday.

The Toronto-born singer will become the third Canadian artist to perform at the most-watched television broadcast event in North America as he takes the stage for the Super Bowl LV halftime show.

Windsor, Ont. native Shania Twain performed alongside No Doubt and Sting in 2003, six years after Ottawa, Ont.-born Dan Aykroyd performed with his band, The Blues Brothers.

The Weeknd, who grew up in Scarborough, Ont., to Ethiopian immigrant parents, will become the country’s first solo halftime show headliner.

His turn comes a month before the tenth anniversary of ‘House of Balloons’, his 2011 genre-redefining debut mixtape.

Back then, his odd name for a solo act and mysterious persona left many wondering who he was, or if The Weeknd was actually a band. It was practically impossible to find a picture of him.

‘After Hours’, The Weeknd’s fourth album, achieved critical and commercial success

A decade later, it’s infeasible not to know Abel Tesfaye, the singer’s real name.

You couldn’t escape his music in 2020. His hit song ‘Blinding Lights’ broke the record for most weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of the most successful singles of all time.

‘Lights’ was his fifth No. 1 hit and 11th top 10 entry in the chart. His other toppers are ‘The Hills’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, from 2015, 2016’s ‘Starboy’ and 2018’s ‘Call Out My Name’.

Tesfaye’s latest album, ‘After Hours’, released shortly after the pandemic triggered lockdowns all over the globe on March 20, 2020, was a commercial and critical success, topping Complex Magizines’s album’s of the year list.

But 2020 wasn’t all highs. Tesfaye and his fans were angry when the project received zero nominations for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards.

“The Grammys remain corrupt,” he posted on Twitter shortly after the nominee’s announcement. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

Along with the Grammy snub, Tesfaye had to re-schedule his nearly sold-out ‘The After Hours tour’ twice due to the pandemic. While those served as low-points in 2020, being selected as the Super Bowl halftime performer is a career-high achievement.

To celebrate this milestone, The Weeknd is releasing a greatest hits compilation project named ‘The Highlights’ on Friday.

The project includes 18 of The Weekend’s biggest hits in his ten-year career

“It’s an honour. It’s a blessing,” he said at a press conference on Thursday after being asked how it felt to be the first Canadian to headline the event solo.

The talk with the press gave little to no insight on the performance itself, but the use of the stands and a less graphic approach than those of his recent videos were takeaways.

“Due to the COVID, and for the safety of the players and the workers, we built a stage within the stadium,” he said. “And we’re also using the field as well. But we wanted to do something that we’ve never done before.”

Earlier this week, Billboard revealed the singer spent $7 million from his own pocket to make sure the show fulfills what he has envisioned and that it should last from 12 to 13 minutes.

Super Bowl LV featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs kicks off Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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Posted: Feb 5 2021 8:49 am
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