The Masked Singer debuted on Fox on Wednesday night, a new singing competition format where the point isn’t to make someone famous because all of the contestants already are.
Twelve celebrities will go head-to-head over the course of the series—but with a twist: They have to wear elaborate, head-to-toe disguises so that no one knows who they are, including the viewers, a live studio audience, and a panel of celebrities comprising Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger. They only reveal themselves if they get eliminated, and clues are dropped ahead of their performances as to who they might be. Tonight, six of those celebrities performed.
The limited series is hosted by Nick Cannon, who joked at the top of the show that some of the contestants could be his friends or even someone he has married, alluding to Mariah Carey.
The first pairing was Peacock vs. Hippo. When the Peacock first walked out, Scherzinger joked that it could be figure skater Johnny Weir. In the clue package, the Peacock—whose speaking voice was disguised—said that he “chose to become a peacock because we both share a love of the spotlight.” The package also hinted that he might play the piano and do card tricks. “Putting on a show is in my DNA, but it’s probably been a while since my mom had a poster of me on her wall,” he teased.
The Peacock sang “The Greatest Show” from The Greatest Showman, and Thicke concluded that he must be professionally trained because of his vocals. “Judging by your voice, it’s definitely a woman,” Jeong joked. “This might be a little bit on the money, but could it be Hugh Jackman?” McCarthy wondered, and other guesses included Zac Efron and Jimmy Kimmel. Scherzinger noted that she got magician vibes, and the panelists got to ask one question. She asked if he had been a part of a magic act, and the Peacock confirmed that he had.
The Hippo was up next, revealing in his clip package that he is probably an athlete. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a performer like me,” he said. “Every time I win, I just gotta dance, even if it gets me in trouble.”
He sang “My Prerogative,” singing over a vocal track. So it didn’t seem likely that singing was his main profession. The celebrity panelists indeed guessed athletes, including Odell Beckham Jr., Deion Sanders and Allen Iverson. “Are you a basketball player?” Scherzinger asked. He replied that his favorite pastime is “bowling.” After the initial round of voting, the Peacock won, placing the Hippo in the bottom three for the night.
Next up was Monster vs. Unicorn, starting with Monster. “I was at the top of my game, but the game turned on me, so I retreated into my cave to take a break from the public eye,” he said in the clip package. “Now I’m here to set the record straight and show the world that no one can stop me from doing what I love.”
The Monster sang “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, and Scherzinger praised his range and said that she heard some soul in the voice. She guessed Gucci Mane, and Jeong guessed Justin Bieber. He asked if the Monster is a professional singer, and the contestant replied: “not to everyone.” Scherzinger added that he had her favorite voice in the competition so far.
[embedded content]The Unicorn was up next and hinted that she grew up in a rich neighborhood and dreamt of singing but was told she was tone deaf. “All my life, people told me I wasn’t worthy,” she said. “I’m not going to listen to them any longer.”
She sang “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, and the panelists didn’t think she sounded like a trained singer. They guessed Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Ireland Baldwin. The final clue the Unicorn gave was “they call me bird.” The Monster was voted through, and the Unicorn landed in the bottom three.
The Deer and the Lion sang in the final showdown of the night. “I think it’s hard for people to get past who I am and what I’m known for,” he said in his clue package.“I’ve been knocked down many times,” he also said, having his antlers wrapped with tape. “Ravens, beware. I’m here to win.”
He sang “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons, and while he could sing, it was once again clear that he wasn’t a professional performer. The panelists were convinced he was an athlete. “I love horses,” the singer said at one point, further stumping them. But then Thicke wondered if he could be a Denver Broncos player, and McCarthy guessed Peyton Manning. They asked if he was in the NFL, and he plead the fifth.
The Lion teased in her clip package that she used to be Hollywood royalty. “True strength comes from embracing all your vulnerabilities,” she said, adding that she was ready to show her true self on the show.
She sang “A Little Party Never Killed Anybody,” and she sounded professionally trained to the extent that McCarthy actually suggested it could be Lady Gaga. Thicke disagreed though. The panelists latched onto something the Lion said about her pride, wondering if it could be a member of a singing group. “In my pride, there are lots of women,” the Lion added, narrowing it down to a girl band. Someone suggested it could be a member of the Pussycat Dolls, which Scherzinger was in. “If it was somebody in my group, I’d know” Scherzinger said. The panelists also guessed members of Destiny’s Child and Fifth Harmony along with Mel B of Spice Girls. The Lion won, and the Deer was in the bottom three.
The studio audience and panelists then voted on who would be eliminated and therefore unmasked. The Hippo was voted out, and the Deer and Monster stayed in the competition. The panel then made their final guesses as to who was behind the Hippo mask. Scherzinger guessed Allen Iverson; Jeon and McCarthy guessed Deion Sanders, and Thicke guessed Odell Beckham Jr. He revealed himself to be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown.
The Masked Singer returns next Wednesday on Fox.
[embedded content]This article originally appeared in THR.com.