Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday’s season finale of The Masked Singer.
No fourth place finish for Chris Daughtry!
The American Idol alum, who finished fourth during the fifth season of that singing competition, came in second on The Masked Singer. Here, the singer-songwriter reflects on playing a dog and how thrilling it was to find out he competed against the likes of Seal and Patti LaBelle.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It looks like that costume was pretty easy to move in. How did you feel?
CHRIS DAUGHTRY: Yeah, the jeans and the sneakers made it a lot easier. It was very constricting, very heavy, very hot. There was not one performance where I didn’t get winded and feel like I was gasping for my life. I think after one of them I just fell to the floor afterwards. I was just so run down — not passed out, it was definitely for dramatic effect, but I felt every piece of it.
Did you have a choice in costumes? Did you see the Rottweiler and said, “Oh yeah, that’s me.”
Yeah, I did. I was looking through them and at first I was like, I don’t really see anything that resonates and then it hit me, this is perfect. Very much in the same way that Batman became Batman, by being terrified of bats and becoming what he feared, I was bitten by a Rottweiler when I was 15 or maybe 16 so I was going to face my fears and embody my fear. It just resonated with me. And he was so damn cute. So it was a nice juxtaposition to what I thought Rottweilers were.
Was it an easy sell to get you to do this show?
Oh my God, yes. I remember years ago I saw Ryan Reynolds do the version in Korea. I think he was a unicorn and I thought, “Oh my God, that would be so fun to do something like that.” And then my publicist said, “Hey, have you seen Masked Singer?” I was like, “Wait, is that the same thing that Ryan Reynolds did years ago?” And he was like, “Yeah, but it’s releasing in America.” So I went back and watched season 1. I know T-Pain and it was really cool to see people who you know in these costumes and I was like, “I have to do this, I have to do this. I really want to experience this. It seems so fun and liberating.” And just the thought of being under that veil of anonymity was very attractive to me and I’m so happy I did it.
Your fans believe you have a very distinctive voice. Did you go through a period of debating whether to disguise it?
At first, I was going to pick a song like “Ice Ice Baby.” I was going to pick “Never Gonna Give You Up” from Rick Astley, because I wanted to do something that was going to almost be funny. But then I realized that’s not the goal of this show and that I needed to really be able to perform and showcase my voice. But I did change keys to songs so that it wasn’t putting me so up in my register that it would be a dead giveaway. And singing songs that really showcase my lower tone, which is something I typically don’t do. And there was a moment where I was like, maybe I should just sing differently, but once you start singing, all of that goes out the window and I just kind of dial back the grid a little bit so it wasn’t too aggressive. But even watching it back I’m like, there’s no way people don’t know who this is, this is so obviously me. And I was getting texts and phone calls from friends that I went to high school with, that I’ve known practically my whole life. And they’re not even asking me. They’re going, “Hey, you’re not fooling anybody under that costume.” And I couldn’t say anything. My poker face was really strong and even my kids were like, “Daddy, is that you?” And I would say, “I don’t see how it could be. I’m right here.” Some of the clues are very obvious.
Were there some songs that you worried sounded too much like vintage Daughtry?
I thought “Grenade” or “Love Runs Out “was going to put me in that slippery slope of, this is obviously me. But I don’t know how I managed to pull it off. They didn’t guess me.
Were you able to hear your competition much?
Never. Not only did we not know who was under any of the costumes, but we had no idea what songs were being sung. I didn’t know how many professional singers I was up against. And that was actually a great thing because it’s so easy to get in your head and go, “Oh, well if they’re here then I need to change my song or I need to change the way I perform because I’m up against this person.” It was so freeing to just go against me and me only. I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can do with this song and hope to God that I continue on or make it to the next round. So I never, ever — even when I’m standing in front of another contestant — I had no idea what they sang prior to that. You could hear some of it sometimes in the background, but you couldn’t really make out the performance of it, if that makes any sense.
What was it like watching the show with the rest of America, seeing who you were up against?
It was so surreal. And even Seal. I know Seal and I know Wayne Brady and once I found out it was like, really? I found out watching the show like everybody else. It was actually weird watching me. It was almost like I’m watching somebody else because I’m under a costume. I’m seeing things through this little slit in my mask and I don’t get the scope of it all. And seeing it like that was almost like watching someone else perform. And I was nervous every time watching it. And I remember hearing the Leopard for the first time and I was like, “Oh my God, that’s Seal. There’s no doubt in my mind that’s Seal.” I know his voice too well and I was really, really happy to see that that’s who it was. There were incredible people who I look up to, people who I have been fans of for many, many years and to see that they were on the same show competing with me was a very validating experience.
You sounded so superb doing “Grenade.” Any chance you would cover that later?
I don’t know. It’s certainly a fun song and I’m good friends with one of the gentleman who wrote it. I haven’t really thought about it yet. Everything’s been so about the show and we’re working on a new record right now in the studio. I’m very, very excited for fans to hear what’s coming. I’ll leave it at that.
You came in fourth on American Idol, but second place on The Masked Singer. Do you feel completely vindicated, Chris Daughtry?
Yeah! At least I did not come in fourth. That was my goal, to make it past fourth place. I felt very vindicated.
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