The best performances from every season of The Masked Singer
As much as The Masked Singer emphasizes the mystery of who's behind the costume, it can be easy to forget that the show is still, at its core, a singing competition — and usually a really good one.
Sure, you have your White Tigers and your Bears (Rob Gronkowski and Sarah Palin, respectively), the non-professional crooners who seem to come on the show more for the fun of it all than to show off their vocal range. But you also have your Suns (LeAnn Rimes), Turtles (Jesse McCartney), Monsters (T-Pain), and Kitties (Jackie Evancho), who have some seriously impressive pipes.
To celebrate the best of the best of the wacky show, EW rounded up the best performances from each season so far. Vocal chops were a major consideration, but we also took into account the staging, arrangement, originality, and choreography. After all, a true performance is the whole package. Check out our picks below.
Ringmaster singing "I Will Always Love You," by Dolly Parton
With this performance, Ringmaster (who was unmasked to reveal The Goldbergs star Hayley Orrantia) managed to cement her status as a frontrunner for the Golden Mask Trophy and do justice to the legendary Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston versions of this song, which is incredibly hard to do. She knocked the vocals out of the park and managed to put her own spin on things to boot.
The Prince singing "Lay Me Down," by Sam Smith
As a Broadway veteran, the Prince (a.k.a Cheyenne Jackson) absolutely knew what he was doing up on stage, and this hit by Sam Smith really let him shine. The ballad allowed him to bring the emotion and the heart (moving panelist Nicole Scherzinger to tears, naturally) and also showcased his full range and great belting abilities. The Prince definitely didn't deserve to be eliminated first in the finals, and performances like this one prove that.
Queen Cobra singing "Leave the Door Open," by Silk Sonic (a.k.a. Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak)
Justice for Queen Cobra! En Vogue (as these slithering beauties were revealed to be) truly deserved better because every week they served up unique performances like this one. This song allowed them to fully utilize their ability to harmonize — and the effect is goosebump-inducing. Plus, they took turns with the verses, giving the individual members a chance to shine as well.
Pepper singing "Jealous," by Labrinth
EW's crackpot theory is that Pepper went home too early because her voice was too recognizable. Indeed, that tone, rasp, and gorgeous timbre unmistakably belong to Grammy-nominated singer Natasha Bedingfield, and this emotional ballad showcased all that. It wasn't just her best performance on the show, but one of the best of the season, period.
Queen of Hearts singing "La Vie en Rose," by Édith Piaf
As the winner of the season, Queen of Hearts (who was revealed to be four-time Grammy nominee Jewel) gave several incredible performances. We chose this one because it highlighted what made her such a special contestant — the sheer volume of different genres and types of performances she was able to pull off. She said she'd never sung in French before, and yet she nailed this Gallic classic like the music royalty she is.
Bull singing "Circus," by Britney Spears
The choreography! The splits! The "Free Britney" shout-out! The vocals! This performance had it all and perfectly encapsulated why Bull (a.k.a. Todrick Hall) made it all the way to the finals as the season's runner-up. Are you not entertained?!
Yeti singing "Lonely," by Justin Bieber and Benny Blanco
Justice for Yeti, who poured his heart and soul into his performances week after week and kept things fresh, choosing a totally different style of music each time. All his performances were great, but we chose this one because he added the extra element of rollerblading, which had never been done on The Masked Singer. His serene movements, coupled with the icy-gloomy set design and Omarion's haunting vocals, made for one heck of an emotional performance.
Piglet singing "Superstition," by Stevie Wonder
We're pretty sure "Superstition" has never been done quite like this before. Season 5 winner Nick Lachey pulled out all the stops for this performance by kicking things off with a small operatic aria (are you kidding us?!) before launching into the beloved funky beat. He even ended things with a bit of scatting, much to the delight of panelist Robin Thicke, who had to excuse himself from the judges' table afterward.
There's a reason Fox showed this performance before season 5 even started — it's just that good. Guest panelist Chrissy Metz's reaction said it all. Those Hanson brother harmonies are hard to resist. And their falsetto was so good that for most of the season the judges were convinced a woman must be hiding in the Dolls, and this performance did nothing to dissuade them from that line of thinking.
Sun singing "When the Party's Over," by Billie Eilish
It's no surprise that Sun (LeAnn Rimes) won season 4. After all, she brought flawless vocals to the Masked Singer stage week after week. Her vocals here, which she performed almost entirely a cappella, brought the panelists and EW staffers to tears and gave us full-body goosebumps. Not only was it the best performance of the Super Six, but it just might be one of the top performances in Masked Singer history. Although it would be another week of performances before she'd be crowned the winner, this was Sun's magnum opus. Dare we say she was positively radiant?
Crocodile singing "Toxic," by Britney Spears
After several weeks of tamer choreography and fewer theatrics in season 4, Crocodile (Nick Carter) kicked off week 4 with camp galore and fun choreography (was anyone else concerned about the backup dancers meeting the wrong end of that tail?), and he managed to sound good while completely throwing his voice for a second week in a row. An effort like that deserves a shout-out, and we're always here for a falsetto performance. With his pop-rock sensibilities and spot-on impressions, Croc brought entertaining performances throughout the season, but his take on Britney was just irresistible.
Seahorse singing "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion
There's a reason Celine Dion songs don't often appear on The Masked Singer. It's hard to find someone with the raw talent, skill set, and powerful vocal strength needed to pull them off. But the Seahorse (Tori Kelly) pulled it off and then some — she absolutely nailed it. It's a shame she didn't save this performance, which blew all the judges away, for the Super Six. A showdown between Sun and Seahorse in the finale would have been a fierce thing to behold.
Mushroom singing "I Wish," by Stevie Wonder
This fungi is so talented he pulled off a different voice every week! The man behind the stem, Aloe Blacc, told EW in his exit interview that his performance of "I Wish" is probably the performance that sounds most like him naturally, and we agree. He's completely in his groovy element here, and the staging and choreography all contribute to the high-energy nature of this performance. He brought it every time, but this performance was sporely his best.
Turtle singing "Fix You," by Coldplay
In this shell of a performance, Turtle (Jesse McCartney) offered his soulful take on the Coldplay song, which was complemented by unique set design and choreography from the backup dancers. Turtle nailed the melody, and his vocals were perfect to boot. Turtle had many incredible performances in season 3 — shout-out to "Kiss From a Rose" — but we had goosebumps throughout "Fix You," which featured a different side to his vocal range.
Kitty singing "Dangerous Woman," by Ariana Grande
Like Turtle, Kitty (Jackie Evancho) had many purrfect performances. But with "Dangerous Woman," she really came into her own. She embraced her sultry persona, and the song choice really highlighted her stunning voice. Plus, there's something impressive about effectively using a yellow chair as your only prop.
Frog singing "Whatever It Takes," by Imagine Dragons
Frog (Bow Wow) hopped his way to the finale with consistently entertaining performances. With "Whatever It Takes," though, he took things up a notch by taking a non-rap song and turning it into one. He made the song his own and played it to his strengths. His incredible dance skills, which in this case he utilized without backup performers, also brought the house down.
Night Angel singing "Million Reasons," by Lady Gaga
Night Angel (Kandi Burruss) tackled just about every musical genre out there throughout her time on season 3, but she was best when she put her powerful voice to use in a ballad, such as this Lady Gaga hit. This emotional song gave a showcase for Burruss' distinct vibrato, and the resulting performance was — dare we say it? — heavenly.
Astronaut singing "Never Gonna Give You Up," by Rick Astley
You didn't think we'd forget about the time a contestant Rickrolled us all on April Fool's Day, did you? (From one '90s baby to another: Hunter Hayes, we thank you.) Jokes aside, Astronaut's out-of-this-world rendition of the pop hit starts off as a ballad, giving the song a new twist. The staging and choreography were also one of the more unique sets from Astronaut.
Thingamajig singing "Rainbow," by Kacey Musgraves
Thingamajig (Victor Oladipo) was the king of the soulful slow song (just ask his No. 1 fan, Nicole Scherzinger), but his version of "Rainbow" was truly the crème de la crème. Who could resist that falsetto and that emotion? The fact that Oladipo isn't a professional singer — he's an NBA player — makes this performance all the more unbelievable.
Flamingo singing "Hallelujah," by Jeff Buckley
With nothing but stained glass windows adorning the stage behind her, Flamingo (Adrienne Bailon) took us all to church with her version of "Hallelujah." Her through-line in the season was doubting the quality of her own voice, but with the notes she hit in this performance, she should never, ever doubt herself again. To quote panelist Jenny McCarthy, "You slayed, girlfriend!"
Rottweiler singing "Maneater," by Hall & Oates
The more obvious choice might be Rottweiler's (Chris Daughtry) rendition of Lewis Capaldi's "Someone You Loved," but we went with "Maneater" because he took a classic and messed with the arrangement to give it a new spin. The performance was pawsitively high-energy, and the set design was super fun to boot. With "Maneater," the dog showed he did not come to play — he was there to compete.
Fox singing "Tennessee Whiskey," by Chris Stapleton
Fox's (Wayne Brady) smooth vocals were the perfect match for this song, and he brought so much passion and warmth to it. It wasn't one of the many high-energy performances Fox gave over the course of the season, but when you've got a take on a song that's "warm as a glass of brandy," you don't need all the extras.
Leopard singing "Big Spender," by Shirley Bassey
If there's one contestant on The Masked Singer who created a character and owned it, it was Leopard (or shall we say Seal?). And this performance really embodied the spirit of that character: It's flamboyant, and a bit garish. But it features classic Seal vocals and holiday decorations, so what's not to love?
Monster singing "Stay With Me," by Sam Smith
The panelists cried. We cried. This is one of the show's best performances, full stop. T-Pain's rich tone accentuated the emotional highs and lows of Sam Smith's hit, and although he won after singing "This Is How We Do It," by Montell Jordan, this is the performance we'll always remember Monster by.
Bee singing "Wrecking Ball," by Miley Cyrus
Only the legendary Gladys Knight could come in (like a wrecking ball) and make an already great song greater. Just when you think she couldn't possibly push her incredible range further, she does. This performance gets bonus points for the backup dancers clad in full ballgowns and wigs cavorting about the stage.
Peacock singing "The Greatest Show," by Hugh Jackman
The costumes! The choreography! The vocals! Peacock (Donny Osmond) really strutted his stuff with this number, which felt like something out of a live Broadway show. As the first performance, the Peacock started The Masked Singer off on a high note — and the rest is history.
Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?