Which song will The Weeknd perform first at Super Bowl LV?
The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and while most of the sports coverage will focus on who will come out on top between Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, the question that should be on everybody’s lips is what song will The Weeknd open the halftime show with?
A fascinating betting prop, this has taken hold of the world’s interest in recent years. And with so many hit singles, The Weeknd’s choice is nearly endless.
So where does the value lie? Firstly, let’s look at the last 15 years of halftime shows and the opening song trends. The list below misses out Lady Gaga (2017), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (2008), and Prince (2007) as they opened with cover tracks. It shows the year, artist, song, peak position on the Billboard Hot 100, weeks it remained in the Hot 100, and where it ranked in that artist’s best performing songs.
Dare (La La La)
Harder to Breathe
Run the World (Girls)
The Black Eyed Peas
I Gotta Feeling
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
The Rolling Stones
Start Me Up
50% of songs in the last 15 years had peaked in the top 10 of the Hot 100. Katy Perry, Madonna, and The Black Eyed Peas all rolled out songs that had topped the charts, while Shakira, Coldplay, and The Rolling Stones were the exceptions – opening with songs that never peaked higher than 48.
58% of songs had lasted 20 weeks or more in the Hot 100 and 75% had lasted at least 10 weeks. Justin Timberlake’s opening tune ‘Filthy’ is the only song in the last nine years that dropped out of the Hot 100 after less than 11 weeks.
Finally, 67% of the songs were in the top 10 performing songs by that artist based on Hot 100 sales/streams. Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, and Bruce Springsteen were the brave artists who picked a tune outside their own top 10.
So where does that leave The Weeknd? Out of his top 10 performing songs, eight of them fit the criteria of peaking in the Hot 100 top 10 and lasting in the charts for at least 20 weeks.
Out of those eight we are going to whip out 'Starboy', 'I Feel It Coming', and 'Love Me Harder', which are compilations with Daft Punk and Ariana Grande, respectively. I expect these to be part of the setlist, but given the Super Bowl’s reputation for surprises, who is to say these songs won’t feature later in the show with a guest appearance?
That leaves us with 'Blinding Lights', 'The Hills', 'Earned It', 'Can’t Feel My Face', and 'Heartless'.
'Blinding Lights' appears the clear bet. Released at the end of 2019 it is The Weeknd’s most successful single worldwide and holds the record for most weeks spent in the top 5 and most weeks spent in the top 10 of the Hot 100.
It has become ‘TikTok famous’ thanks to a choreographed dance challenge that went viral and is the song currently being used to promote Super Bowl LV on TV advertising. It went back to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 just last week, 14 months after its release.
Frustratingly for The Weeknd no doubt, he has not had many chances to perform this song for any kind of live crowd. His 2020 After Hours Tour was put on hold due to the pandemic, but The Weeknd has performed the song live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Saturday Night Live, the 2020 MTV Music Video Music Awards, the Time 100 primetime event, and the 2020 Jingle Ball.
The danger is that he uses this tune as the big finale. And in that instance, any of the afore mentioned four songs are worth your attention, with preference for 'Can’t Feel My Face'.
The 2015 single was The Weeknd’s first to top the Billboard Hot 100 and went Platinum in 12 different countries. The song was chosen by Rolling Stone as the best song of 2015 and claimed to be the sound of the summer.
If The Weeknd chooses to finish on 'Blinding Lights', 'Can’t Feel My Face' would be the perfect opening banger.