The Masked Singer

   Fox’s new reality competition series “The Masked Singer” wrapped its debut season on Feb. 27, surprising viewers with intriguing reveals and dazzling performances.  

   Hosted by Nick Cannon and featuring Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Jenny McCarthy and Ken Jeong as panelists, the show follows 12 hidden celebrities performing a variety of tunes in front of the judges and a studio audience.

   Based on the South Korean program “King Of Masked Singer,” the American adaptation premiered in early January to approximately nine million viewers.

   During each episode, a portion of the contestants face off against each other with their songs of choice. Afterward, the judges and audience cast their vote on who should stay and the losing celebrity is unmasked.

   The name “Masked Singer” is a slight misnomer, as the contestants have not only hidden their identity with masks but have been clad head to toe in elaborate costumes centered around a chosen identity. This season’s ensembles include the Hippo, the Poodle, the Unicorn and the Raven, among others.

   Marina Toybina, a recipient of four Emmy awards for costume design, created the various costumes used in the show. While discussing her designs with the New York Times’ Lara Zarum, she described her intention: combining aspects of fashion with costume.

   “So the costume part of it becomes the mask, and the fashion part of it became the outerwear,” Toybina explained. “It wasn’t so literal. The deer that I created almost looks like a soldier. We put a lot of details into aging the jacket and creating the elements of this character.”

   During the course of each episode, contestants offered the audience and judges hints to their identity through various visual and audio clues.

   For example, a clue package showed the Pineapple washing a vintage pink Mercury. The car sported a bumper sticker reading “Pipe Dreams,” along with the number 52438T across its license plate.

   Unmasked during the second episode, he was revealed to be actor and comedian Tommy Chong, who was born May 24, 1938.

   “Growing up in the public eye, my life was never my own,” revealed the Alien in one of her clues, alluding to a life ran by her family. She later clarified this statement by stating in another clue “I let other people define me, but I will never let anyone control me again”.  

   The Alien was unmasked during week seven and revealed to be singer LaToya Jackson.

   As for the choice of music, contestants mostly chose songs that were outside of their comfort range on purpose.

   In an exit interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Joey Fatone, who suited up in the Rabbit costume, explained the lengths that producers went to in order to ensure secrecy.

   “I think the cool thing about it is the other celebrities definitely were going outside the box on their comfort zone as far as songs are concerned,” Fatone stated. “And on top of that, they were very strict with that stuff. I was like, ‘Can I do ‘Mustang Sally?’ And in the beginning they would literally be like, ‘No.’ I’m like, ‘Why not?’ They go, ‘Well, if you Google your name, videos pop up of you singing it.”

   “That’s how extensive they actually went,” he continued. “They did not want you to ever have sung that song once in your life.” Fatone and actress Rumer Willis, the celebrity veiled in the Lion costume, were eliminated during week eight.

   The two-part season finale involved the three remaining contestants: the Bee, Monster and Peacock.

   Singing an impressive version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, the Bee finished in third place and was unveiled as Gladys Knight, the Empress of Soul.

   The Peacock performed the appropriate “Shake A Tail Feather” by the Five Du-Tones and the Monster covered Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”.

   Rapper and singer T-Pain emerged from the Monster costume victorious, triumphing over the unmasked Peacock, singer Donny Osmond.

   “I didn’t have a chance to come into the game with my natural voice and, you know, a lot of my peers did and they get accepted,” T-Pain mentioned after the reveal. “This helped me get my voice out there even more.”

   Knight tweeted him a congratulatory message on March 2.  “Congrats again on winning The Masked Singer, @TPAIN!” the tweet read. “So well deserved. You have such a beautiful voice and spirit. We need to get together and make some music!”

   Due to a strong viewing average of 8.167 million viewers an episode, Fox renewed “The Masked Singer” on Jan. 30 for a second season.

Maxwell Patton

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