If you’ve turned on your TV this winter, there’s a high probability that you’ve heard of The Masked Singer. A Fox remake of the popular South Korean show, King of Mask Singer, it’s like if The Voice went on a dystopian party cruise with Yo Gabba Gabba and an episode of E! True Hollywood Story. Or, as Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk so aptly described the experience: “What if Gritty walked out on a soundstage made to look like an arena concert, belted out Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me,’ was described as ‘a professional’ by Jenny McCarthy, took off his head to reveal he was Joey Fatone, and the entire experience felt three clicks away from an episode of Black Mirror?” Well, more than 9 million people watched this nightmare show’s premiere episode, according to Nielsen. Nine million people who are now dying to figure out which celebs are under these elaborate masks. (But let’s be real, they’re more like costumes.)
By now, we’ve now seen all of masked singers do their thing: Deer, Lion, Monster, Peacock, Unicorn, Rabbit, Alien, Raven, Poodle, and Bee. (Also, Hippo and Pineapple, who were both sent home in the first two episodes and revealed to be NFL player Antonio Brown and comedian Tommy Chong, respectively.) Each contestant gives a few clues about themselves before they perform, complete with an intentionally hilarious voice-changing filter, and the show provides a few details like height, gender, and commentary from our slate of four useless judges.
Using my own expert judgment and the assistance of thousands of skimmed YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram comments, here are the most likely celebs hiding behind those wacky looks. Is this show about singing? No. Is it about the process of elimination based on the most likely type of celebrities who would agree to appear on a reality show like this? Yes.
Who is the Deer on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Deer. He’s six-foot-three, “incredibly competitive,” and considers himself a singer but is “not sure everyone’s going to agree with that.” He says: “I’ve been knocked down many times, but in the Wild Wild West you learn how to get back up and get back in the saddle.” And another suggestive quote would be: “Ravens, beware.” There’s also a slight southern accent to his highly altered speaking voice.
Why it could be Terry Bradshaw: He played on the Steelers, he loves horses, and he’s won four Super Bowls (something mentioned by the show’s marketing). The Steelers famously hate the Ravens. He’s the right height and, as a YouTube commenter observes, he “didn’t move to much during the performance bc he’s old” which is true. (He’s 70!) Plus, Terry had a singing career back in the day, releasing five country albums. Here’s Terry singing Glen Campbell in 1976, and here he is singing with the Isaacs in 2016.
Why it might not be Terry Bradshaw: His present-day voice doesn’t exactly match up, but that might because the songs are different genres.
Odds: Very high. (Update: Yep, it was him.)
Who is the Poodle on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Poodle. She’s “sassy and smart and best in show.” She loves to be onstage and take on a character. She’s either from or lives in San Francisco. “I come from a musical family, but I’m known for a different talent.” Which talent? “Stand-up,” she says as she lifts small weights. Her career is all about “exercising her right to free speech,” and a rainbow flag appears in the background. Another video has her talking on the phone as a clue.
Why it could be Margaret Cho: The comedian is from San Francisco and built a successful (and sometimes controversial) stand-up career. She was once a phone-sex operator, which could be the “poodle on the phone” reference. Cho is also openly bisexual, and released an album called Cho Dependent in 2010. Here she is singing a song from it. Sound familiar? She also loves dogs; unclear if she owns a poodle.
Why it might not be Margaret Cho: Maybe “exercising” means something else that I’m missing, but I don’t think so.
Odds: Very high. (Update: Yep, it was her.)
Who is the Lion on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Lion. She’s five-foot-six and says that some might she’s “Hollywood royalty.” She’s stepping away from her pride to “sing my heart out,” adding, “in my pride, there are lots of women.”
Why it could be Rumer Willis: She’s on Empire right now, she’s already won Dancing With the Stars, and, yes, she sings. She’s the right height and she’s Hollywood royalty: the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. Plus, she’s part of an all-female “pride” with two sisters, Scout and Tallulah Belle. She’s a Leo and at one point had a huge lion tattoo on her shoulder. (She got rid of it last year.)
Why it might not Rumer Willis: Every clue lines up; it’s probably her.
Odds: Very high. I know I keep saying this, but Willis was also on Dancing With the Stars. This feels like the No. 1 giveaway here.
Other possibilities: Tracee Ellis Ross, Paris Jackson, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Rowland, Dinah Jane.
Who is the Monster on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Monster. He’s five-foot-eight and is here to “rewrite” his mixtape, to prove that he’s more than just “puff and fluff.” He says: “I was at the top of my game, but the game turned on me. So I retreated into my cave and took a break from the public eye.” After he’s asked if he’s a “professional singer,” he says: “Not to everyone.”
Why it could be T-Pain: Aside from the fact that they sound exactly alike? Seriously, watch his viral Tiny Desk performance from 2014. Here he is singing the national anthem. He was at the top of his game in the mid-2000s, known for his use of auto-tune, so some people didn’t see him as a “real” singer.
Why it might not be T-Pain: This is another where every clue just lines up. Plus, his voice (even without auto-tune) is pretty unmistakable.
Odds: Very high. It’s the redemption story that T-Pain has been desperately seeking for years.
Other possibilities: Jamie Foxx, Wanya Morris, Seal, Wayne Brady, Cee-Lo Green.
Who is the Peacock on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Peacock. He’s five-foot-nine and started in show business as a kid. “Putting on a show is in my DNA,” he says. And follows that with: “It’s probably been a while since your mom had a poster me on her wall.” Plus, he claims to be best buds with Michael Jackson. Finally, “I have never been mauled by a tiger, but I have been part of a magic act.”
Why it could be Donny Osmond: Vegas references galore, plus when he pets the small dog statue in his intro package, it’s likely referring to Osmond’s “Puppy Love” in 1972. He was a teen heartthrob, so posters of his face lined many bedroom walls. Osmond and Michael Jackson were pals, and the peacock could be a reference to Osmond’s run as the lead in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat on Broadway. Also his favorite color, claims one YouTube commenter, is purple.
Why it might not be Donny Osmond: Vegas is full of has-beens looking for comebacks.
Odds: Very high. What other teen idols associate so closely with the glitz and magic (tricks) of Vegas?
Other possibilities: David Hasselhoff, Alfonso Ribeiro.
Who is the Unicorn on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the unicorn. She’s five-foot-six, born and raised in Beverly Hills. She had a difficult childhood and always wanted to sing, but someone she admired told her she was “tone deaf.” One of her nicknames is “Bird” and when she’s singing, Robin Thicke says, “She doesn’t sound like a trained singer.” Very nice of you, dude.
Why it could be Tori Spelling: She sure was born in Beverly Hills, the daughter of producer Aaron Spelling and socialite Candy Spelling. Her childhood wasn’t great (just read one of her three books) and thanks to her dad, she appeared on many of his TV shows, including 90210. She definitely has thought of herself as a singer. (Donna Martin graduates!) Bonus fact: “Bird” in Japanese is pronounced “tori.”
Why it might not be Tori Spelling: She sounds better in these clips than the Unicorn did on the Masked Singer stage, but “Fight Song” is definitely out of this singer’s range. Sorry.
Odds: Very high. I can’t imagine a more likely place for Tori Spelling to show up than on a reality show.
Other possibilities: Paris Hilton, Erika Jayne, Nicole Richie.
Who is the Rabbit on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Rabbit. He’s spent most of his life onstage, but he was “never alone.” Now he “pops up here and I pop up there.” Synchronized singing is his forte. “This rabbit’s gonna win and you believe the last mask standing is gonna be me.”
Why it could be Joey Fatone: Did you catch that “It’s Gonna Be Me”reference at the end? Plus, any self-respecting ’N Sync fan would recognize the signature white straitjacket from the “I Drive Myself Crazy” video. The Rabbit admits he was once part of a group, and the “pop up here” thing is definitely implying that he sang pop music. Let’s do a little process of elimination: Judging by fame level and timbre, respectively, it’s certainly not Justin Timberlake or Lance Bass. Chris Kirkpatrick’s always sang ’N Sync’s high harmonies. That leaves JC Chasez, who hasn’t been around much, and Joey Fatone, who has. Plus, it happens to sound just like him. (Sorry, but Chasez is a better singer!)
Why it might not be Joey Fatone: Jenny McCarthy (whose husband happens to be New Kids on the Block member, Donnie Wahlberg) notes that the Rabbit couldn’t Joey because he’s “too slim.” Which is rude, because he looks great.
Odds: Very high. He was on Dancing With the Stars twice (!), and has hosted a significant number of reality competition shows.
Other possibilities: JC Chasez, AJ McLean.
Who is the Alien on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Alien. She “comes in peace,” whatever that means. The Alien grew up in the public eye: “In my family, anonymity is a completely alien concept.” “No one will ever control me again,” she says. “For the first time, the world gets to hear my voice on my terms.” Later, she’ll tell the judges she has “many sisters” and in another video, they show a photo of a gold record as a clue.
Why it could be LaToya Jackson: If you’ve ever studied the speech of the Grammy Award–winning sister of Michael, LaToya Jackson, you’d recognize her immediately. If not, well, take my word for it. All the clues line up: She has two sisters (Rebbe and Janet) and “no one will ever control me again” is likely a reference to Janet’s iconic album, Control. LaToya’s songs are not as memorable, and if you can’t recall any, please listen to “He’s My Brother”and thank me later. (The voice is a definite match!) A snake referenced in her clue video could be connected to Jackson’s 1989 Playboy shoot, in which she appears with a snake wrapped around her.
Why it might not be LaToya Jackson: The judges keep calling the Alien “hot,” saying they think it’s a model. Alien looks good, but so does LaToya.
Odds: Very high. Jackson’s tiny stature matches, and she might need a little of this reality-TV paycheck to pay her overdue rent. Just saying.
Other possibilities: Kendall Jenner, one of the Braxton sisters.
Who is the Raven on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Raven. All her life, she’s listened to “other peoples’ stories.” She calls herself a sunny person, and say she’s always found an audience. “No one talks like me.” Recently, she suffered a tragic loss, and “like a phoenix, she’ll rise up.” A clue on a previous video is a hand holding a pregnancy test. (Seriously. This show is insane.)
Why it could be Ricki Lake: “So don’t cry baby, this one’s for you,” quoth the Raven. Cry … Baby … like the 1990 John Waters film starring Ricki Lake? She also starred in his version of Hairspray — which takes place in Baltimore, and the city’s football team is the Ravens. Even more convincing is Lake’s talk show on which she did a lot of listening to people’s stories. The pregnancy test could refer to the documentary Lake helped make about natural childbirth, and as for the mention of recent tragedy, Lake’s ex-husband committed suicide in 2017.
Why it might not be Ricki Lake: The pregnancy test thing could be a “You’re not the father!” reference, so watch out for Maury behind that mask.
Odds: Very high. I don’t think Sally Jessy Raphael was available.
Other possibilities: Rosie O’Donnell, Sherri Shepherd.
Who is the Bee on The Masked Singer?
Here’s what we know about the Bee. She’s had a long career, and never wanted to stop doing what she loves. Being a worker bee “keeps [her] young.” “You can call me Queen B, but Empress also suits me.” She wants to reach a new generation and prove that she still has what it takes to create a buzz. Another video reveals yet a clue: a picture of tennis balls. She tells the judges later that she started singing “in the ’50s.”
Why it could be Gladys Knight: Often called the “Empress of Soul,” Gladys Knight won Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour in 1952 when she was 7 years old. Then she created the Pips with her siblings and cousins, and they started touring in the late ’50s. Here she is singing one of my favorite karaoke songs, “Midnight Train to Georgia,” just last year. Oh, and she also loves to play tennis.
Why it might not be Gladys Knight: Because we didn’t get a ton of clues for this one, to be honest. But “Empress” is pretty telling. On a side note, I’m really happy that I checked out her Twitter because there are some great photos of her on the set of Hawaii Five-0.
Odds: High. Do you really think Tina Turner would do this show? Have some respect. Plus, she’s the Queen of Rock and Roll, not the Empress.
Other possibilities: Lil’ Kim.