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Meet The Weeknd, Super Bowl LV Halftime Performer

Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, is headlining the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fl. on Feb. 7, 2021. 

“We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position. I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage this year,” The Weeknd said in an official release.

The R&B singer and songwriter told Billboard he will be spending $7 million of his own money for this performance even though the Super Bowl traditionally pays for the production costs. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is reportedly planning for a 20% seating capacity at the upcoming Super Bowl, which is will be held at Raymond James Stadium.

"We’ve been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience," he said, "and we want to do that with the Super Bowl.” 

Here's everything you need to know about The Weeknd:

Background

Abel Tesfaye was born Feb. 16, 1990 in Toronto, Canada, and is the son of Ethiopian immigrants. His early musical influences ranged from traditional Ethiopian music to Michael Jackson. The Weeknd even told Vanity Fair that the King of Pop's song "Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough" greatly impacted him, stating it was "the song that helped me find my voice. It’s the reason I sing.”

Tesfaye got his start by sharing his music through YouTube and mixtapes like "House of Balloons" (2011). His rise to fame soon came with his debut studio album "Kiss Land" and a compilation of his mixtapes labeled "Trilogy."

As he built his career as an artist, he went on to work with Drake, appeared on Wiz Khalifa's “Remember You” (2012) and worked with Rick Ross on his 2014 album, Mastermind. That same year, The Weeknd assisted producer Max Martin with Ariana Grande’s hit “Love Me Harder,” and had success from “Earned It,” the first single released from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack.

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By 2015, The Weeknd finally made it after huge success with the GRAMMY-winning album Beauty Behind the Madness, which featured the hit single “Can’t Feel My Face.”

His follow-up album, Starboy (2016), also won a GRAMMY. 

But now, The Weeknd's 2020 album, After Hours, is the No. 1 most streamed R&B album of all time, and his 80s nostalgic track “Blinding Lights” went five-times RIAA-certified platinum.

Recent Grammy's Snub

The three-time GRAMMY Award winner somehow did not get a single nod in this year's ceremony despite his two top-100 hits "Blinding Lights" and "Heartless." 

"I personally don’t care anymore," The Weeknd said to Billboard. "I have three GRAMMYs, which mean nothing to me now, obviously. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I want the GRAMMY!’ It’s just that this happened, and I’m down to get in front of the fire, as long as it never happens again."

However, it took him a while to reach this point. While Variety called "the biggest snub in recent memory," The Weeknd took to Twitter, demanding "transparency" from the Recording Academy.

"It just kind of hit me out of nowhere," Tesfaye said. "I definitely felt... I felt things. I don’t know if it was sadness or anger. I think it was just confusion. I just wanted answers."

He continued: "Like, ‘What happened?’ We did everything right, I think. I’m not a cocky person. I’m not arrogant. People told me I was going to get nominated. The world told me. Like, ‘This is it; this is your year.’ We were all very confused."

Top Five Biggest Hits According to Billboard Global 200

  • Blinding Lights — peaked at No. 1 on April 18, 2020
  • The Hills — peaked at No. 1 on Oct. 10, 2015
  • Can't Feel My Face — peaked at No. 1 on Aug. 22, 2015
  • Earned It — peaked at No. 1 on May 9, 2015
  • Starboy (ft. Daft Punk) — peaked at No. 2 on Nov. 26, 2016