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The new era of singing competitions

By Kaylee Haskell

The Masked Singer premiered Jan. 2 on Fox, inaugurating a unique method to American singing competitions. Inspired by the Korean show King of the Mask Singer, the new production features celebrities battling against each other through song to advance forward into the next week. The show was recently renewed for a second season.

While it may sound like the endgame audiences are used to, The Masked Singer hides the identities of each contestant through elaborate, hand-selected costumes. Each celebrity is disguised from head-to-toe, with no visual way to assess who they may be. While the show focuses on music, contestants’ professions vary beyond professional singers. From athletes to comedians – there is a vast range of possibilities under the masks.

As the show heads into the semifinals of their debut season, audiences have unmasked big names like NFL legend Terry Bradshaw, comedian Margaret Cho and Jackson 5’s sister LaToya Jackson.

Hosted by Nick Cannon and judged by Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger and Ken Jeong, The Masked Singer features a montage of clues from each contestant before their performance to help solve the mystery.

After the performance, judges make their best guesses about the identity of the performer. Following this, the in-show audience is invited to weigh in by casting their votes. The performer with the lowest number of votes is revealed at the end of the show. The Masked Singer’s shock factor has accrued overwhelmingly positive feedback, with approximately nine million viewers  tuning-in each week excited to see a different side to some of their favorite celebrities.

As the show enters its eighth week, here are my predictions for the remaining five contestants.

Monster: T-Pain

T-Pain has been the most obvious contestant. His voice is incredibly distinct and it’s hard to comprehend how the judges haven’t figured this one out yet. The monster’s clue montage in episode seven discussed his trials and tribulations within the music industry. Due to reaching initial success by utilizing autotune, T-Pain was shut out of the music industry by the popular opinion that he can’t really sing. However, if you’ve ever listened to him acapella, you’ll know that he has some serious pipes.

The monster also mentioned he was “living the ‘good life,’” naming one of T-Pain’s most successful features – Kanye West’s The Good Life from 2007. In the fourth episode, the monster is shown with a money gun in his clue scene – something T-Pain has recorded himself doing on his Instagram. In the same episode, he also mentioned he was from down south, corresponding to the singer’s hometown of Tallahassee, FL. Lastly, the monster recently said “my shot at the semifinals is all ‘teed’ up,” using a play on words to literally say his name. There is no question about this one, the monster is T-Pain.

Rabbit: Joey Fatone

The rabbit is another character that seems clear. From the beginning, the rabbit mentioned that he “found safety in a group” as well as continuously mentioning never being in the spotlight. Joey Fatone from *NSYNC is the only reasonable guess for the rabbit’s identity.

The rabbit talks about being “boxed in” as well as “a puppet master” which are two different references to the boyband’s music video for their 2000 hit It’s Gonna Be Me. There has also been mention of hot dogs and italian ice. True *NSYNC fans would know that Fatone’s recent endeavor outside of singing was opening his restaurant Fat Ones in 2016, where he sellshot dogs and italian ice.

Bee: Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight’s voice is fairly easy for me to recognize, which is why I believe she is under the bee mask. The bee mentioned beginning her career with a group, as well as winning 10 Grammys. Knight won seven awards in her solo career and also won three with her group, Gladys Knight and The Pips. She recently gave away the biggest clue to her identity by referring to herself as the “queen bee, or empress,” as Knight earned the title Empress of Soul for her groundbreaking career.

Peacock: Donny Osmond

My decision on the peacock’s identity hasn’t been final since the beginning, but I’ll have to go with Donny Osmond as my pick heading into the semifinals. He recalled that his career began when he was five years old, which is when The Osmonds first started performing. There is also repetitive reference to the identical wig and rainbow cape featured in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a movie that Osmond starred in. The peacock also talks about being a child star followed by a lengthy, diverse career.

Lion: Rumer Willis

The lion has been the most mysterious singer since the beginning and definitely required some additional research before making any conclusions. In the first episode, the lion talked about being part of a girl group, which caused the judges to speculate about a member of the Spice Girls or Destiny’s Child. However, the lion recently admitted she was born in Kentucky and is part of a famous family.

The final clue to secure my guess was the most recent mention of a cabaret in the clue montage. Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, has two other sisters– confirming her girl squad and famous family. She also performed on Broadway in Chicago, making the cabaret reference come full circle. My final guess for the lion is Rumer Willis.

If you haven’t tuned in yet to make your predictions, The Masked Singer airs at 9 PM every Wednesday. If you would prefer to start from the beginning, Fox announced on January 30th that the show will be renewed for a second season.

Kaylee Haskell can be reached at kaylee.haskell@spartans.ut.edu

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