It’s officially 2019, which means that the world is forgoing basic reality programs for something so wild, so crazy, you’ll need to see it to believe it. Okay, so maybe we’re not throwing out tried-and-trued competition shows like The Voice and Dancing With the Stars, but Fox is definitely trying something new this year. And that new thing involves... masks?
The Masked Singer might just be watercooler show of 2019, if only because it is seriously bananas. The singing competition series features 12 already-established celebrities belting their hearts out, with one going home each week.
The kicker here is that each star is wearing a head-to-toe costume (which, of course, features a completely face-obscuring mask) so that the judges, host, and audience has no idea who they are. Each week, the identity of the star will be revealed, until only one — wait for it — “masked singer” is left standing.
Since we know you have questions, here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about The Masked Singer.
So, who came up with this idea in the first place?
The Masked Singer is based on a South Korean format, called King of Mask Singer. It is a very big deal in South Korea, so much so that when Ken Jeong was offered to be a panelist on the American version, his Korean parents insisted he take Fox up on the offer.
“[My parents are] so into the show that when I was offered to be a panelist on the show, my Mom was like, ‘You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to do this.’ It’s as simple as that. My Korean Mom told me to be on Masked Singer,” Jeong told Variety.
Who else is judging?
In addition to Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Robin Thicke, and Nicole Scherzinger will “play detective” on the series and attempt to figure out the identities of the stars performing. Nick Cannon is also onboard as host.
But seriously, how famous are the contestants?
We don’t know — because we don’t know who they are. (This isn't a Guess Who? situation where you can use process of elimination.) Fox, however, claims that the answer is "very."
Per the official website, the contestants include “Grammy Award winners," "legendary athletes," and everyone in between, which probably means the cast of Jersey Shore Family Vacation.
It’s safe to assume that the people performing are generally recognizable. It would be pretty awkward for someone to take off their mask only for the judges to still not know who they are.
So tell me about these masks.
The performers are identified solely by the name of their costume, embodying characters like “The Hippo,” “The Unicorn,” and even “The Pineapple.”
Suffer from maskaphobia? If you don’t, you might after watching The Masked Singer. Sure, it’ll probably take some getting used to, but right now, the costumes are pretty terrifying. “The Deer” looks like a high-budget Gargoyle King from Riverdale. “The Rabbit” is an American Horror Story fever dream. “The Poodle” is the fashion version of the dogs from Black Mirror’s “Metalhead.”
Ironically, the only one that looks relatively cuddly is “The Monster,” who could be the love child of Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc.
How are we supposed to figure out who each contestant is?
Before each performance, the singers will tease clues about their identity in order to help fans at home/drive them crazy with anticipation. Don’t bother trying to identify people via voice — it’s distorted beyond recognition. However, it’s certainly possible to narrow people down by who actually can sing: The show features actual Grammy winners!
How do eliminations work?
The masked singers will go head-to-head with different match-ups each week. (Think “Pineapple vs. Hippo,” for example.) The studio audience will pick the winners, and the judges will choose the worst overall singer of all the losers.
Are we sure this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror?
I mean, TBD.
Check out the trailer below:
The Masked Singer premieres on Wednesday, January 2, at 9 p.m. on Fox.