Super Bowl 2021 Performances: What to Expect from The Weeknd, Jazmine Sullivan & More
We’re only moments away from watching Patrick Mahomes and the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, face off against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Super Bowl is what NFL superfans have been waiting for all year. For the not-so football fanatics, this Sunday marks the kick-off of several comedic commercials and the return of live performances (well sort of).
In November 2020, the NFL and Roc Nation announced that The Weeknd will be the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show performer. The program also announced in January 2021 that R&B star Jazmine Sullivan and country singer Eric Church will sing the national anthem together while Grammy-winning singer H.E.R. will perform “America the Beautiful.”
GRAMMY-nominated artists @ericchurch and @jsullivanmusic will join us in Tampa Bay to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LV!— NFL (@NFL) January 19, 2021
GRAMMY-award winning artist @HERMusicx will sing America the Beautiful.
Tune-in on Feb 7 to the Super Bowl on CBS Kick-Off Show at 6pm ET pic.twitter.com/mh1Y8fjgpV
Hosted at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Super Bowl LV will be celebrated differently from its previous ones due to the pandemic. Our usual watch parties won’t be as crowded, but we’ll still be on the edge of our seats watching the big game and performances.
Musically, The Weeknd has had a transformative few years, to say the least. Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye started as an anonymous Canadian singer that transported audiences to his world of love, sex and drugs. With the release of his Balloons trilogy mixtapes, Tesfaye’s following grew along with his music catalog, dropping back to back successful albums. In November 2019, he released two back-to-back singles, “Blinding Lights” and “Heartless.” On March 20, 2020, The Weeknd dropped his fourth album, After Hours, which received positive reviews from critics and fans.
The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency...— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 25, 2020
Unfortunately, the album was infamously snubbed without any nominations for the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards. Social media went ablaze, along with The Weeknd himself questioning and criticizing the “corrupt” Recording Academy. With already three Grammy awards and full awareness of the industry’s game, The Weeknd decided to put that passion into his next project, taking on the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Roc Nation, the League and The Weeknd shared the news on November 12, 2020.
“The Weeknd has introduced a sound all his own. His soulful uniqueness has defined a new generation of greatness in music and artistry,” rapper and Roc Nation owner, Jay Z said: “This is an extraordinary moment in time and the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show is going to be an extraordinary experience with an extraordinary performer.”
Now, being the next halftime performer is way harder than it looks! The eccentric singer has to follow up the likes of his biggest idols including, Prince, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Diana Ross, which he cites as his favorite performance of all time. With heavy-hitting predecessors like this, many fans are wondering what to expect from the XO artist.
First thing first, we can expect something a little more PG-friendly compared to The Weeknd’s previous performances. We’re hoping that still includes the new red-suited bandaged character that Tesfaye has been portraying during this fourth album’s cycle. We can also expect storytelling artistry in its purest form as The Weeknd has been dedicated to keeping this album’s story consistent and comparable to films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Uncut Gems. Days ahead of the Super Bowl, The Weeknd also revealed that he spent a mighty $7 million for his Halftime Show performance.
What we are certain about for the Super Bowl is the opening performances for the night. Announced as co-performers of the national anthem, were the unlikely duo of Grammy-nominated artists Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church. Sullivan took a much-needed break from muse but made her return in 2021 with the EP, Heaux Tales. Eric Church was recently named “Entertainer of the Year” at the 54th Annual Country Music Association Awards.
Blending both country and R&B will be an interesting take on the American-themed anthem, which now has more meanings than one after this groundbreaking year. For the pregame performance, the talented H.E.R will be making an appearance singing “America the Beautiful.” As the lineup includes many African-American artists, it seems as the NFL is attempting to right their wrongs this Super Bowl after facing backlash over the treatment of athletes speaking up for Black rights.
Truth be told, we’re not too sure what the “Earned It” singer has up his sleeves. Will he use this platform to continue telling this long-winded tale of the Hollywood manipulated celebrity, or with a groundbreaking year of tackling racism and politics, will he introduce another story to audiences. I guess we’ll have to find out at the big game on Sunday, Feb. 7.
Autumn Simon is a music and cultural journalist based in Los Angeles, Ca. She graduated from the University of La Verne, where she studied journalism and social media marketing. Her work has been published on DoLA and UncoverLA. Her interest includes finding hidden gems in LA, discovering new artists, and attending live concerts and festivals. Her favorite artists include Kanye West, Ice Cube, Frank Ocean, and Smino- just to name a few!