We have to hand it to The Masked Singer’s casting team – they did a great job getting some serious star bookings for this year’s series.
So far, we’ve already seen comedy legend Sir Lenny Henry and actual Spice Girl Mel B unmasked – not to mention the fact that a certain Grammy-winning American R&B singer is still in the competition, if rumours are to be believed.
But the UK’s version of The Masked Singer isn’t the only one to have bagged some A-list talent to take part in the wackiest show on TV.
In the past few years, the US edition has featured acclaimed actors, award-winning rappers and even a controversial political figure.
Here are just 14 stars we still can’t believe said yes to The Masked Singer...
Lil Wayne (Robot, eliminated first)
Probably the biggest shocker in Masked Singer history came when Robot took his mask off during the launch episode of the US show’s third series.
Following a performance of Lenny Kravitz’s Are You Gonna Go My Way, Robot was booted out of the competition, taking off his mask to reveal Lil Wayne.
T-Pain (Monster, won)
Another rapper who fared a lot better on the show than Lil Wayne was T-Pain, who won the first ever American run of The Masked Singer.
Things got off to a shaky start for the Grammy-winning star when his Monster alter-ego wound up in the bottom in the first episode, but went on to win the whole show.
Explaining why he picked the Monster costume, he told the LA Times: “I figured I’d get voted off super-quick. So I was like, ‘Lemme just wear the most ridiculous thing I can before I get up out of here’.”
Michelle Williams (Butterfly, seventh place)
Yes, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child was a contestant on The Masked Singer during its second year.
She competed as Butterfly, and given how distinctive Michelle’s singing voice is, we’re surprised she lasted as long as she did – although fans had her sussed from the very beginning for that reason.
Michelle told Entertainment Weekly: “When I was backstage, I heard a playback of myself and I scared myself because I was like, ‘that’s Michelle, dummy!’. I did that to myself.
“It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in entertainment, though,” she added.
Mickey Rourke (Gremlin, second out)
Former boxer and Oscar-nominated actor Mickey Rourke landed himself a very unique title when he competed on The Masked Singer’s fourth US series in 2020.
After his first (and only) performance, Mickey admitted he was struggling with the heat under his costume and took off his own mask, becoming the first celebrity to ever do so, and therefore disqualifying himself from the contest.
Following his exit, he joked to presenter Nick Cannon that he’d taken part because he happened to be “in the neighbourhood”.
Chaka Khan (Miss Monster, eliminated third)
Two years on from T-Pain’s win, Miss Monster – a female counterpart of his Masked Singer character – arrived on the scene.
“It was very heavy,” she said of her Miss Monster costume. “We had to make a lot of adjustments but I’m just a little short girl.
“We had to lighten it up. It was really hot under there.”
Dionne Warwick (Mouse, eliminated fifth)
Another iconic singer who actually competed the same year as Chaka Khan was Dionne Warwick, who appeared under the disguise of Mouse.
Because of her distinctive vocals (and a few giveaway clues) the panel had already sussed who was behind the mask.
“It’s kind of hard to disguise my voice, unfortunately, in this case,” she told EW. “And they recognised my voice, there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Gladys Knight (Bee, third place)
While Dionne Warwick said she took part in the show because she’d already seen some of her her “buddies” compete in previous years, fellow music legend Gladys Knight appeared on The Masked Singer’s very first US series, so had no idea how the show would be received.
As Bee, Gladys made it all the way to the final, eventually finishing in third place.
She later said: “I had no clue [what I’d got myself into].”
“You’re never too old or too young to learn and progress with whatever you’re doing,” she added. “If you’re singing or dancing or whatever you’re doing, you get a chance to learn a different genre or vernacular. Get out there and do it! It is a fun show.”
Sarah Palin (Bear, eliminated seventh)
Perhaps The Masked Singer’s most shocking reveal ever came in 2019, when Bear revealed herself to be former Alaskan governor and one-time US vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.
Perhaps even more alarmingly, she was eliminated after this performance of Baby Got Back.
Describing why she wanted to take part, the divisive politician said: “I knew it would be so refreshing and so freeing and well, in a real respectful way, kind of a walking middle finger to the haters out there in the world where I could do whatever I wanted to do and not care what anybody said because they wouldn’t know until after the fact.
“So it all worked out.”
Donny Osmond (Peacock, second place)
Osmonds singer and Las Vegas staple Donny Osmond did very well when The Masked Singer aired its first-ever US series, beating all but one of his competitors to second place.
“I had heard about the show in South Korea. But I got the joke immediately,” he said after his elimination.
After finding out the show would be airing on Fox, with a multi-million dollar budget, Donny told his agent “lock it in’, commenting: “If that’s going to be the case, this is going to be huge.”
And he was absolutely right.
When The Masked Singer finally made the jump across the pond in 2020, Donny served as a guest judge for one week, as did former competitor Kelly Osbourne.
Seal (Leopard, fourth place)
While many Masked Singer viewers in the US thought Leopard was RuPaul for a number of weeks, he eventually unmasked himself as Seal right before the final in the show’s second series.
“He did the whole thing to surprise his kids and make them laugh,” a producer later revealed to Variety.
“I really wanted to send a camera, the moment that his kids see that it’s him, but we couldn’t, unfortunately, for various reasons.”
Tony Hawk (Elephant, eliminated fourth)
Not someone who’s often associated with singing – or dressing up in elaborate costumes and putting on a show – American skateboarder Tony Hawk put in an appearance during The Masked Singer’s third year in the US.
He didn’t last all that long, but it sounds like enjoyed his brief stint as Elephant all the same, performing Friday I’m In Love by The Cure, which he and his wife had danced to at their wedding.
The judges had previously guessed Tony was behind the Robot costume earlier in the series, after Lil Wayne’s character was seen with a skateboard.
Paul Anka (Broccoli, seventh place)
This Canadian crooner has truly done it all. He’s performed live all over the world, he’s collaborated with Michael Jackson and he’s performed a Lionel Richie ballad while dressed as a massive broccoli on national television.
“It was just fun to get out of the house and do it,” he joked to People after he was eliminated from the show.
LeAnn Rimes (Sun, winner)
One of The Masked Singer’s newest additions, LeAnn made it all the way to the final in 2020 under her sunny disguise.
The Can’t Fight The Moonlight singer admitted that her claustrophobia meant various adjustments had to be made to her mask – including the back of her head not being covered.
“The costume in itself was a challenge to wear and perform with the weight of it. As a singer, my airway has to be open and there was a lot of weight on my head,” she explained to EW.
“[The mask] was on a helmet that I put on, and then clasped underneath my chin.”
And finally, here’s one more completely unexpected celebrity appearance…
You may know that The Masked Singer began its journey in South Korea, where it proved to be a huge hit and eventually spawned various international editions.
Well, before the show became a huge success in the States and the UK, Ryan Reynolds actually paid a visit to the South Korean version, performing Tomorrow from Annie.
Why? Well... because he’s Ryan Reynolds, of course.
The Masked Singer UK airs on Saturday nights at 7pm on ITV.