Canadian musician pays $7 million of his own money to interrupt major sports championship played in front of 50,000 cardboard cutouts

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A Canadian R&B sensation popularly known under his moniker “The Weeknd” reportedly invested $7 million of his own wealth in order to make a dazzling appearance before 50,000 cardboard fans at this year’s “Super Bowl.” The “Super Bowl” is the United States’ hegemonic sporting finale and it has become a regular ritual for popular musicians to take to the field at half time where they demonstrate their star status by flamboyantly resisting calls to have them ejected. This year’s edition featured two American Football teams, unique for their outmoded team names (The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs), and an appearance from The Weeknd, who bears no connection to either team, or even the sport, except possibly by comparative popularity. On this occasion the performer contrived to spend around $7million USD to fund the ritualistic intermission. 

Due to the level of orchestration involved in staging their intrusions, in most cases the identity of the musician or band is leaked ahead of time, often by the NFL organization itself. Contrary to expectation these interruptions are usually highly anticipated by at least 60% of the game’s female viewership. The band or artist featured typically performs an abridged medley of their most famous songs for twenty to thirty minutes which is one of the only times they are praised for doing half of the already minimal work. Part of the fascination of this spectacle is the grandiose stage and production designs which can involve hundreds of performers and millions of dollars worth of pyrotechnics and other effects. The message is clear: music is king, even in this hallowed domain of sport. Each year, these musical superstars continue to perpetuate the narrative that they are a caste above not only the fans watching, but also the competition, teams, and players themselves.

While traditionally these bands and artists rightfully take home no earnings from their forced intrusion (although the increased record sales certainly alleviate that concern) this year’s edition was certainly unique. Rarely before has a musician invested their own money into the project but in the 2021 edition new heights of vanity were summited as the performer, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd), invested $7million of his own fortune to perform at an event populated mostly by cardboard cutouts. His nonetheless impressive routine had him getting lost in a gilded hall of mirrors, taking to the field among lepers, amputees and war veterans, and referring to himself repeatedly as Star-boy (a thinly veiled pen name further designed to further propel his grandiose self-esteem).

In a blow to Mr. Weeknd, popular consensus appears to be that, since he failed to expose a female co-performers breast on national television, his moment will not go down as one of the best rated performances at the NFL’s “Halftime Show.” Money it seems cannot buy you everything, if you Canadian.

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