The latest eliminated contest tells EW about the hint from his clue package that "got really out of hand."

By Lynette Rice
April 29, 2020 at 09:00 PM EDT
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Michael Becker/FOX

Warning: This article contains spoilers about The Masked Singer season 3, episode 14.

Ground control to the Astronaut: Sorry we have to bring an end to your very special musical mission!

Hunter Hayes was the latest song man to get the boot on Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer. Here, the 28-year-old country crooner talks about what he learned from wearing that space suit — and how he kind of bent the truth to get on the popular show.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What's it been like watching yourself on The Masked Singer

HUNTER HAYES: I am my worst critic. I've always been that way. The show magnified it. I was very hard on myself during the taping. Now on the other end, it's nice to kind of chill out and not get stressed, rather just kind of enjoy the fun of it. Being so far removed allows me to see how everybody else sees it, which is just having fun.

Is there anything in particular you learned about yourself while doing this show, other than maybe finding out that you're claustrophobic or something?

Um, luckily I wasn't. In one of the questionnaires when you sign up, they ask you if you're claustrophobic. I've had both experiences. I've had experiences where I have zero problem being in a confined space but I've also had, like, mild panic attacks being in confined spaces. But I didn't want them to know that. I won't say I lied, but I didn't really tell them about the potential for claustrophobia. Thank God it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. I had an advantage with my mask. I could see almost everything. My view was great. It wasn't as hard to breathe in my mask as I knew it was for others in their costumes. If I learned anything about myself, there were a couple things. In the first episode, I realized how powerful emotions can be behind a vocal. I didn't really have much movement with the first song and I knew that if I was going to make it to round 2, I had to just express everything. All the reasons that I wanted to do the song had to come through every line that I sang. It wasn't about perfection, it was about emotion. After getting the response that I got from that, I realized how important that is in general. When I sang "Signed, Sealed and Delivered," I let go of what I thought the Astronaut should be. I just started goofing off and being myself and focused less on throwing people off. I mean it's always been part of my story, writing songs and being honest with the world. But starting from that pure emotional place has kind of risen back, has come back as a priority.

Your costume did look hotter than hell to wear.

Yeah, it was very hot. Luckily, it wasn't too heavy.

Okay so full disclosure, we figured out early on that it was you. Let's go over some of these clues that made it a slam dunk for us. The number 500 was mentioned in reference to your self-titled debut album, which accumulated more than 500 million on demand streams. Is that correct?

Yeah. though that sounds a little pretentious. It was a reference to a couple of different things and couple of different sort of statuses. We didn't want to be too specific so it felt kind of a safe but subtle. I'm impressed that you picked up on it 'cause nobody else did.

Wow. Okay. Now, the image of the French horn. Was that a nod to your Cajun ancestry?

Yeah, that was a reference to growing up and playing Cajun music and trying to learn how to speak French. I never succeeded. But you know, the effort was made.

Let's talk about when you performed "Signed, Sealed and Delivered." You said that was a song from a dear friend. We know that you performed with Stevie Wonder at the ACM awards and on Dancing With the Stars.

Yep, absolutely. That was Stevie. It was like meeting royalty and getting to work with royalty. The personal side of Stevie is the best part of him. After meeting a hero like that, seeing the human that he is and getting to know him ... the effort he put into just staying in touch! He sends me song ideas and he's always just been really supportive. It's weird to call a hero 'a dear friend.' But I felt like that was a really accurate way to describe him, the way that he cares about fellow music makers.

And finally your comment about needing a little help from someone from an organized crime family. Was that a shout out to Robert Duvall?

Yeah, that was a Robert Duvall reference, which got really out of hand on set because there were tons of jokes made about that. But yeah, that was definitely Robert Duvall.

Let's say another famous singer like yourself came up and asked whether he or she should do this show. What would you say?

Do it and just make sure you're having fun. It is a competition, but the reason that I was really excited about it was that it's not a competition about technicality. It's about individuality. I think that's why it's been such success. That's why I fell in love with it was because it's like no other contest on TV. You have to just go in and have fun with it. That sounds simple, but it's really easy to get caught in the technicalities of dance moves and choreography and staging. But at the end of the day, the times where you just have fun were the times where I felt like I had a chance of moving on to the next round and. I would encourage anybody to do it!

The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays on Fox.

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