A mid-pandemic Super Bowl went down on Sunday night, complete with feet and balls and commercials. The real highlight of the annual spectacle, however, was the Weeknd’s expectations-meeting halftime performance.
The performance kicked into gear with the title track from Abel’s 2016 album Starboy and ultimately touched on a number of different eras from his increasingly stacked catalog. The closer, fittingly, was the still-ubiquitous After Hours single “Blinding Lights.”
“I haven’t performed to an audience in years, so it’s exciting to perform to a crowd, finally,” Abel told Kay Adams ahead of the performance airing on Sunday night. When asked if he had been watching classic halftime moments from previous Super Bowls in preparation, Abel confirmed he had indeed.
“I’ve been watching all of them, to be honest with you,” he said. “I’ve said before that my favorite is Diana Ross’ performance.”
As for the usual practice of special guests popping up in a halftime headliner’s set, Abel explained that his more narrative-driven take on the annual tradition meant that such cameos wouldn’t make sense.
“There wasn’t any room to fit it in the narrative in the story I was telling in the performance,” he said.
Naturally, one specific moment from the set—i.e. the intentionally hectic camera work behind the cocaine love song “Can’t Feel My Face”—has inspired a new meme that was still going strong as of Monday morning. Below, we’ve rounded up a few examples of this in action, including ponderings on everything from social distancing to unintentional Zoom mutings: