Fox’s The Masked Singer joined Wednesday night primetime television with its premiere episode on January 2. The show, which is based on a South Korean show by the same name, asks unidentified celebrities to face off in a singing competition while disguised in head to toe costuming including, as the show title indicates, an ornate mask. Nick Cannon hosts, and Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, and Nicole Scherzinger serve as the show’s panel of judges.
According to Fox, the show’s premise is structured as follows: “With each performance, the host, panelists, audience, viewers and even the other contestants are left guessing who is singing behind the mask. Ranging from Grammy Award winners to legendary athletes, and everything in between, the singers may attempt to throw the crowd off of their scent, while keen observers might pick up on tiny clues buried throughout the show. One singer will be eliminated each week, ultimately revealing his or her true identity.”
Based on the show’s premiere episode, the voting system is pretty straightforward to follow, and it is important to remember that the episodes are not airing live. For the season 1 competition, The Masked Singer has recruited a total of 12 top-secret celebrities to sing and perform on-stage in front of an audience. That audience ultimately decides who stays and who goes home at the end of each episode by voting for their favorites. In the premiere, six of the competing celebrities were paired off and asked to sing in a head-to-head battle; at the end of each head-to-head, the audience members were asked to vote for their preferred masked performance. The winner was deemed safe “to sing another day,” and the loser was sent to the bottom three until the end of the episode. After the audience had voted on their three winners, the bottom three were brought back out, and the audience was immediately asked to vote again. The masked celebrity with the least amount of votes in that “sudden death”-style voting round was eliminated from the competition and forced to reveal their identity.
There is no at-home voting, and the judges do not have a say in who stays and who goes beyond voicing their opinions on the quality of each performance. They do, however, get to place a final guess on the identity of the eliminated celebrity before they remove their mask and reveal themselves. For the fans at home, The Masked Singer‘s Twitter page encourages viewers to tweet their guesses throughout the season.
The 12 celebrities have been divided into two groups of 6 for the purpose of utilizing the show’s allotted 1-hour time slot. For the premiere episode, the first six celebrity competitors performed and one was eliminated at the episode’s conclusion, revealing that celebrity identity. Episode 2 will feature the other six and eliminate one from that group. Next week (episode 3), the show will return to the remaining 5 from the premiere and eliminate another contestant. Presumably, the episodes will alternate back and forth between the two groups until the number of remaining contestants is small enough to feature in one episode together.
Episode 2, “New Masks on the Block” airs tonight. According to its description, “The second six undercover celebrity singers — rabbit, alien, raven, pineapple, poodle and bee — face off against one another while wearing elaborate head-to-toe costumes.”
Episode 3 airs next Wednesday night, January 16. In that episode, called “Five Masks No More,” “Peacock, monster, unicorn, deer and lion take the stage for their second performances; Joel McHale joins as a guest panelist.”
Watch The Masked Singer on Fox on Wednesdays at 9/8 CT.