The Weeknd has changed his look multiple times over the past year.
Ahead of his headlining gig at Super Bowl LV Halftime Show, the singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, shocked fans with his bruised, bloodied, and bandaged face as part of a progressive look. The look was part of the concept for his album After Hours, which features his hit single “Blinding Lights.”
As fans tried to make sense of it all, the Weeknd revealed the dire theme behind his hit song and, possibly, how it tied into his bloody look.
“’Blinding Lights’ [is about] how you want to see someone at night, and you’re intoxicated, and you’re driving to this person and you’re just blinded by streetlights,” he told Esquire. “But nothing could stop you from trying to go see that person, because you’re so lonely. I don’t want to ever promote drunk driving, but that’s what the dark undertone is.”
While he didn’t confirm that his “character” got into a drunken accident, a gory theme has played out in a series of appearances, including the high-profile MTV Video Music Awards.
The Weeknd later told Variety that his bandaged “character” was “having a really bad night” and fans should “come with your own interpretation of what it is.”
In an update just before his Super Bowl appearance, he told the outlet the bandages are “a progression and we watch The Character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on.”
“The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” the singer later explained.
The Weeknd First Stunned Fans With His Bloody Face on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in March 2020, Then Went Even Further at the VMAs and the AMAs
The Weeknd first started confusing people on March 8, 2000, when he showed up for an appearance on Saturday Night Live with bloody cuts on his face and small bandages. The singer wore a red suit jacket, which has since become his signature outfit, as he performed his songs “Blinding Lights” and “Scared to Live.”
The wild look was also teased on the cover of his After Hours album, which dropped days after the SNL guest spot, as well as a short film that was released alongside the album. The After Hours film featured the Canadian singer walking around a city with swollen eyes and a banged-up nose.
In an interview with Variety, which took place during his SNL rehearsal, The Weeknd referenced his busted nose, fake bruises, and bloody marks on his face, by noting, “I forget that I have it on sometimes.”
Five months later at the MTV Video Music Awards, he showed up bloodied again, but this time with even more bandages. Ahead of the VMAs he was seen leaving a New York hotel in the shocking makeup as he paused to greet fans, according to Page Six.
The singer performed “Blinding Lights” from Hudson Yards as part of the virtually produced show, starting off laying on the ground before walking to the edge of a Manhattan skyscraper to give viewers a closer look at his banged-up face.
The Weeknd went on to win the Best R& B Video and the prestigious Video of the Year award for “Blinding Lights.”
In his speech, he somberly stated that he couldn’t celebrate his VMA win due to the horrific events that had taken place in the Black community in the prior months.
“It’s really hard for me to celebrate right now and enjoy this moment, so I’m just gonna say justice for Jacob Blake and justice for Breonna Taylor,” he said. “Thank you.”
Two months later he showed off a heavily bandaged, bloodied, and bruised face at the American Music Awards. As he accepted his award his entire head was bandaged.
The Weeknd Took Off the Bandages In January 2021 & Revealed Another Jarring Look
In January 2021, The Weeknd fast-forwarded the story to a post-bandaged look. The 30-year-old had a new look for the music video for his song “Save Your Tears,” and also shared a photo of what appeared to be a faux post plastic surgery look with newly-chiseled cheekbones and swollen lips.
Ahead of Super Bowl LV, fans did get to see The Weeknd back to his old self. In a promo for his appearance, he pulled up to stadium security with no blood or bandages and flashed a quick smile.