The Weeknd lit up the 2020 VMAs Sunday night.
The 30-year-old Canadian singer kicked off the show with his performance, described in advance as a “keyed-up, dazzling” showcase. He lived up to the hype with a rooftop version of his hit single “Blinding Lights” — which won VMAs for Video of the Year and Best R&B — from the observation deck at Hudson Yards, complete with a background of fireworks.
The Weeknd pre-taped parts of his performance there and in Brooklyn last week. While out and about in NYC, the artist was all-in, embracing a red jacket and bloody makeup reminiscent of his battered visage in his VMA-nominated, frenetic “Blinding Lights” music video. He wildly cruised through big-city streets in a Mercedes-Benz in the film, which was shot over the course of four days in Las Vegas and LA.
The three-time Grammy-winner’s song — is a tale of loneliness, intoxication and yearning — includes familiar hints of electronic keyboards, a perhaps unintentional nod to a-ha’s 1985 chart-topper “Take on Me” (which won six VMAs in 1986). The tune was the second single from his latest album, “After Hours,” which dropped in February.
A six-time VMA nominee this year, The Weeknd was up for video of the year, artist of the year, best R&B, best direction, best cinematography and best editing. He joined a performance roster that included a quarantine-weary Lady Gaga and “Rain on Me” collaborator Ariana Grande, Maluma, BTS, DaBaby, Miley Cyrus, Doja Cat, CNCO and the Black Eyed Peas.
The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, previously fired up the VMAs stage in 2015 with a performance of his breakout hit “Can’t Feel My Face.”