The Canadian singer’s big wins of the night — which include sweeping Favourite Male Artist – Soul/R&B, Favourite Soul/R&B Album, and Favourite Soul/R&B Song — were noteworthy, but likely not the most memorable aspect of his appearance, as the star showed up to the event in a red suit and a heavily bandaged, bloodied face.
His bruised eyes and swaddled head would be hard to miss anywhere, but especially on the red carpet or onstage.
If his look worried you, fear not: No one is beating the Weeknd up (and no, this isn’t a Mitch McConnell-denying-his-hands-are-visibly-unwell situation either).
This bloody sight likely startled or concerned viewers who didn’t know that the Weeknd, a.k.a. the Toronto-born musician Abel Tesfaye, has been deliberately appearing increasingly beaten-up in public appearances promoting his 2020 album “After Hours.” In August, he arrived at the MTV Video Music Awards with minor scratches. Since then, his “health” has worsened.
It’s all part of his artistic presentation of “After Hours,” an album that tells the dark, violent narrative of a man unravelling through each track.
What does the fake injury specifically relate to? As InStyle pointed out, the Weeknd revealed to Esquire magazine that his song “Blinding Lights” took the perspective of a drunk driver, so desperate to see a loved one that they drive dangerously. It’s safe to say that the track’s protagonist didn’t leave his car unscathed.
Cryptic, but calculated visuals have played a big role in the Weeknd’s discography; his early mixtape days and social media hid his true identity in favour of building a persona.
Those who knew the album’s backstory’s applauded Tesfaye for his artistic drive, with this most recent aesthetic emphasizing his theatrical style.
And even led to some good-natured ribbing.
As each appearance shows him more bandaged than the last, only time will tell what his Super Bowl performance will look like. Given what we’ve seen so far, Twitter has a good guess:
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