The Masked Singer debuted to Western audiences with a lot of criticism about the further ‘dumbing down’ of television – and these are undoubtedly valid points as we sit glued to our television sets watching celebrities in outlandish costumes attempting karaoke. Yet you cannot so easily write off a show that has captivated audiences around the globe and turned families into detectives in television’s most addictive guessing game.
The franchise which originated in South Korea has spread to over thirty countries and attracted a plethora of star judges and participants that have kept viewers across the globe guessing. Praise should also go to the range of talent participating – from the usual mix of reality television personalities to some genuine musical royalty.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most shocking celebrity reveals on international editions of The Masked Singer. Shocking in part due to the level of star power of the participant – not necessarily the fact that they were a challenge to guess (we’re looking at you Kelis).
The Masked Singer UK – Kelis
The “Milkshake” and “Acapella” hitmaker was one of the more vocally obvious contestants as the Daisy on the UK’s debut edition of the show – being revealed in the fifth episode of the series. Nonetheless, she was an incredible signing for British broacaster ITV showing that they were not afraid to shell out on top talent for the initial run of the series. Major highlights included the Daisy’s performance of “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd and “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole. Thankfully this prompted a boost in publicity for Kelis in the UK with the singer going on to announce a British and European tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her Kaleidoscope album.
The Masked Singer USA – Dionne Warwick
Musical royalty Dionne Warwick graced the third series of the American version of The Masked Singer as The Mouse. The distinctive hushed whispering tones of the “Heartbreaker” and “Walk On By” singer took her to episode five of the US series. A genuine musical legend, Warwick delivered renditions of “Get Here” by Oleta Adams and “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” by Natalie Cole, before leaving the contest. Warwick’s participation continues to reflect American broadcaster FOX’s range of entrants with musical superstars and lesser known personalities mixing throughout its three season run.
The Masked Singer UK – Katherine Jenkins
The Welsh mezzo-soprano managed to avoid suspicion as the Octopus by adorning a faux American accent and focussing her clues on her earlier modelling career. Jenkins provided a further air of credibility to the contest through her operatic-flavoured renditions of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid, “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin, A Star Is Born’s “I’ll Never Love Again” and a standout rendition of Dame Shirley Bassey’s “Diamonds Are Forever.” These tremendous vocal turns were enough to keep Jenkins in the running until the final where she reached third place.
The Masked Singer USA – La Toya Jackson
The thinking man’s Jackson, La Toya, reminded the world of her vastly underrated musical abilities with her appearance as the Alien on season one of the American edition of the show. The Jackson who has numerous hits on the Billboard Dance Charts and nine albums to her name, reminded us of her talents with “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man, “Lovefool” by The Cardigans, and “Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King. This was a lovely return to performing for the notoriously shy Jackson who was unmasked in the seventh episode of the contest.
The Masked Singer Australia – Cody Simpson
Winning the first season of the Aussie edition of The Masked Singer was singer Cody Simpson. Simpson was a high profile signing with three US Billboard charting albums to his name as well as numerous EPs. Appearing as the Robot, Simpson’s highlights included performances of “Hold Back the River” by James Bay, “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” by Kylie Minogue (in front of her sister, pop royalty Dannii Minogue), and “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga.
The Masked Singer USA – Gladys Knight
Iconic soul star Gladys Knight reached third place of the American edition’s debut series as the Bee. The Empress of Soul has seven Grammy Awards to her name, has sung a Bond theme, and is an inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – an incredible signing for the debut of the US series. “Chandelier” by Sia, “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars, and “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus were stunning ways for Knight to reconnect with contemporary pop and R&B music.
The Masked Singer Russia – Sergey Lazarev
Even Russia has got in on The Masked Singer action with its debut series running now (April 2020) with judges including Eurovision maestro Philip Kirkorov and singer Valeriya. Participating out of competition was two time Eurovision legend Sergey Lazarev – appearing as a guest judge on the seventh episode, Sergey debuted as the Dinosaur performing Kirkorov’s “Cruel Love.” Quickly unmasked, Sergey then joined the panel for a guest stint for the episode.
The Masked Singer USA – Seal
Just missing out on the final of Season 2 of the American edition was legendary British soul singer Seal. With twenty million album sales to his name and ten LPs, Seal brought a bit of British class to the US series as the Leopard. “Somebody to Love” by Queen, “Stitches” by Shawn Mendes, “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry, Shirley Bassey’s “Big Spender” and The Pussycat Dolls’ “Don’t Cha” showed off Seal’s range and provided a showcase for the singer’s range – and the fact that he refused to take himself too seriously.
The Masked Singer Russia – Elena Katina
The Russian edition of the show has also attracted T.A.T.U. frontwoman Elena Katina as the fabulously outfitted Spider. Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” were two of the English language tracks taken on by the Russian pop star, helping her reach the fifth episode of the series.
The Masked Singer USA – Patti LaBelle
The Godmother of Soul has one of the most illustrious careers in music shining from the 1960s to present day and tapping into genres including soul, R&B, gospel, pop, disco, and dance. With 50 million record sales to her name, LaBelle was an another incredible signing from FOX. Hits with her girlgroup LaBelle including “Lady Marmalade”, as well as solo successes such as “New Attitude” and “Stir It Up” have asserted Miss Patti’s talents over the years – yet The Masked Singer was a chance for her to shine with contemporary material. Starring in the second season as the Flower, LaBelle shines with “Cheap Thrills” by Sia, “Amazed” by Lonestar, and “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton, the soul star made it to the eight episode.
The Masked Singer UK – Jake Shears
The beloved Scissor Sisters frontman brought a touch of Hollywood glamour and camp to the proceedings as the out loud and and proud Unicorn. Shears again asserted that ITV was determined to bring an air of credibility to the contest with some genuine international singing talent. Whilst Shears was perhaps not the biggest mystery underneath the mask, his renditions of “Juice” by Lizzo, “Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top, and Kate Bush’s “Babooshka” were enough to keep him in the contest until episode six.
The Masked Singer USA – Michelle Williams
The Destiny’s Child star featured in a surprisingly emotional comeback on season two of The Masked Singer USA as the Butterfly. With gorgeous performances of “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones and “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, Williams was able to show off her vocal chops without being the butt of jokes. High octane performances of “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi and “Bang Bang” asserted Williams’ fun side, however, Williams’ confessions about struggling with her confidence and being out of work for a year revealed a surprisingly emotional note to the show.
The Masked Singer USA – Sarah Palin
Nightmares came true with former Alaskan government and Senator John McCain’s vice presidential running mate’s appearance as the Bear on Season 3 of the US version. The ultra conservative former politician dropped her strict moral code for an unforgettable performance of “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. Whilst this performance cannot be described as enjoyable – more aptly haunting – it’s nonetheless a truly shocking signing. Kudos to FOX for that one.
The Masked Singer USA – Chaka Khan
With the casting of Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, and Dionne Warwick, the legendary Chaka Khan appearing on Season 3 as Miss Monster is perhaps not massively unsurprising, yet Khan is the undisputed Queen of Funk with ten Grammy Awards and an estimated 70 million records sales worldwide to her name. Renditions of “Something to Talk About” by Bonnie Raitt, “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry and “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore were very out of the ordinary choices for the Funk singer, that continued to showcase the performer’s talent.