Super Bowl LV halftime show: The Weeknd to headline halftime show in star-studded lineup

Canadian R&B star The Weeknd has taken the stage as the headline act for the Pepsi Super Bowl LV halftime show, the legendary performance amid the annual NFL championship game - the biggest event on the American sporting calendar.

The 'Blinding Lights' hitmaker, 30, performed a medley of his biggest hits, including 'Can't Feel My Face', 'Starboy' and 'The Hills', at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Sunday (local time) as the reigning Super Bowl champion, the Kansas City Chiefs, take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Dressed in his signature red jacket and black shirt, The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, and an army of dancers performed against a backdrop of a glowing cityscape, before transitioning to a metallic maze. The set culminated with the performers taking over the field, launching into a choreographed routine to 'Blinding Lights'.

The dynamic set also featured a choir and plenty of bandages, an aesthetic The Weeknd has explored in recent months. Speaking to Variety earlier in February, The Weeknd described the full-face bandages - as seen on his dancers during the Super Bowl halftime show - as a statement on the nature of celebrity.

"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," he told the outlet.

Pop powerhouse Miley Cyrus preceded the hotly-anticipated halftime show with her pre-game TikTok Tailgate concert, taking the stage alongside special guest Billy Idol for a supercharged performance.

Cyrus, 28, and the iconic British musician, 65, performed their collaboration 'Night Crawling' - a track from the pop star's latest album Plastic Hearts - followed by a rendition of the rocker's hit 1982 post-punk anthem, 'White Wedding'.

Cyrus's pre-game show was peppered with a number of covers, including renditions of Toni Basil's 'Hey Mickey', Dolly Parton's 'Jolene', Nine Inch Nails' 'Head Like a Hole', Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' and Bikini Kill's 'Rebel Girl'.

TikTok Tailgate welcomed a live audience of 7500 vaccinated healthcare workers from around the country.

The pre-game ceremony's star-studded lineup also included Grammy-winning musician H.E.R., who performed the patriotic song, 'America the Beautiful'. Country music artist Eric Church and R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan followed with a rendition of the American national anthem, 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gormon, 22, also recited an original work. The poet and activist gained recognition for her reading of 'The Hill We Climb' at the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month.

Traditionally, the halftime headliner is accompanied by special guests, with Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin joining industry heavyweights Jennifer Lopez and Shakira last year.

However, The Weeknd took the stage solo aside from a number of dancers. He shut down speculation over possible special guests on Thursday (local time), telling the NFL Network "there wasn't any room" for an additional artist.

"I've been reading a lot of rumors," he told the network.

"There wasn't any room to fit it in the narrative and the story I was telling in the performance. So there's no special guests, no."

As reported by AP, The Weeknd said he would "keep it PG" during his slot on Sunday (local time).

The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, joins the impressive list of celebrated musicians to play the Super Bowl halftime show, including Madonna, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and last year's duo, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez.

And the celebrity cameos didn't stop there, with the Super Bowl's usual stream of star-added advertisements. Actor Timothée Chalamet can be spotted as 'Edgar Scissorhands' in a Cadillac advert, while comedian Amy Schumer appeared as the magical 'Fairy Godmayo' for Hellmann's mayonnaise.