The Weeknd's Face: Here's What Really Happened

The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, had quite the year in 2020. He released his fourth studio album, After Hours, in March, which debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 chart, becoming his fourth No. 1 album. Plus, After Hours broke Apple Music's record for the most pre-saves for any album with a total of 975,000 saves before its release, per Chart Data.

While his 2020 After Hours Tour was postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic (per Rolling Stone), fans got to see the "Blinding Lights" singer celebrate his success on television at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards and the 2020 American Music Awards. He went home with several awards between the two shows, including Video of the Year and Best R&B for "Blinding Lights" at the MTV VMAs, and Favorite Male Artist (Soul/R&B), Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and Favorite Song (Soul/R&B) at the AMAs.

However, The Weeknd's performances and new trophies weren't what everyone was talking about following his appearances — it was his look. Fans noticed his very different style at the shows, which includes a bruised face and bandages wrapped around his head. As he prepares for his monumental Super Bowl LV halftime performance, fans can't help but wonder if he will don the same style, or completely reinvent himself again. As the suspense grows, let's take a look back at what really happened to The Weeknd's face.

The Weeknd's bruised look came from his 'Blinding Lights' video

The Weeknd first sported a bruised face for his After Hours short film and following "Blinding Lights" music video. He then wore the same red suit jacket and beat-up face to Saturday Night Live in March ahead of the release of his album, per Distractify.

The Canadian singer told Esquire in August 2020 that "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, but nothing could stop you from trying to go see that person, because you're so lonely." He added that he doesn't want to promote drunk driving, "but that's what the dark undertone is." This would help explain his new style.

It's not strange for a musician to express his or her artistic flair in unique ways, but that didn't stop fans from being super confused when they saw The Weeknd arrive at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards in August with a bruised face. However, upon accepting his awards that night, he made no mention of his head-turning look.

The Weeknd donned his bruised faced at the 2020 American Music Awards

The Weeknd once again promoted his new signature style (at least for 2020) at the American Music Awards that year. However, this time he stepped onto the stage with his face looking more beat up than his appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards with his head wrapped in bandages. By this time, many fans were aware that his style choices were to match the tone of his album promotion, thanks to a Metro article that denied any allegations that the "Save Your Tears" singer was seriously injured. 

Despite the new information, fans were still wondering why The Weeknd would want to sport fake injuries, with some even accusing him of promoting physical abuse. However, the award-winning singer still remained silent about his bloodied face. During his acceptance speech for Favorite Soul/R&B album at the AMAs, he decided to put all his focus on pop icon Prince. "Last time I received this award, it was given to me by the late great Prince," he started, per ELLE. "And you know, he's the reason I get to constantly challenge the genre of R&B, and I'd like to dedicate this award to him. Thank you."

Fans were seriously concerned when The Weeknd looked like he got plastic surgery

The Weeknd brought his mind-boggling style into 2021 when he posted a selfie on Instagram, simply captioned "So good." The photo that accompanied the caption made the Canadian singer look as if he got botched facial reconstruction surgery. However, the shocking fillers were actually just prosthetics that were used in his look for his "Save Your Tears" music video, which premiered on Jan. 5, 2021.

The music video shows The Weeknd singing to an audience of masked onlookers who are dressed in formal attire. Once again, fans were a bit confused. Perhaps, though, that's exactly what he wanted. He wrote on Genius that he doesn't like to "spoon feed" his audience, because he "grew up idolizing story tellers who tell stories using symbolism." He added that "it was in my nature to do the same."

On Feb. 2, 2021, the "Starboy" singer released a teaser for his Super Bowl LV performance, which might have given more insight to the ongoing changes to his face.

Is The Weeknd trying to send a message to his fans?

The Weeknd released a head-turning teaser for his Super Bowl LV halftime performance just days before he was set to take the stage. In the teaser, he is seen walking past projections of his prior music videos as a narration plays. "Our stories, our lifetime in the making. We give to the world and the world gives back," the voiceover begins. "What we create changes us. Every performance, a new chapter. Every stage, a new beginning." The video ends with The Weeknd taking a deep breath before heading toward what is assumed to be the Super Bowl stage.

With the message of changing, new chapters, and new beginnings, perhaps The Weeknd's last facial reconfiguration signaled the end of his transformation, with his Super Bowl performance being "a new beginning." Plus, the co-producer of his halftime performance opened up to Entertainment Tonight on Feb. 1 and said there is a solid message the singer "wants to communicate in this performance."

Whether he was trying to or not, The Weeknd mystified many with his questionable and evolving looks. Perhaps more answers will be revealed when he steps on to the Super Bowl LV stage.