These are the horrors you might be seeing on your screen come 2021. For the love of reality TV, why? (Photo: Getty)

WTF is The Masked Singer NZ?

The Masked Singer NZ is the bizarre, top-secret singing contest that’s hitting our TV screens next year. What can we expect?

What is The Masked Singer?

It’s a reality TV show that began in South Korea and was picked up in 33 countries around the world, from Australia to Israel to Ukraine. Basically, it’s an anonymous karaoke competition for famous people, and a New Zealand version is coming in 2021.

So famous people compete in a singing contest, but we don’t know who they are?  

Exactly. Who doesn’t love a bit of musical mystery? 12 celebrities hide their identities by wearing outrageous costumes and then belt out a cover song in front of a panel of judges and a live audience. The judges try to guess the celebrity based on a series of clues, and everyone votes on their favourite performer. The last singer standing wins the coveted Golden Mask Trophy.

At the end of each episode, the celebrity with the fewest votes is eliminated. They must “unmask” and reveal their true identity, while the judges point and shriek “WHO IS IT?” until we all keel over in anticipation.

Is it Beyonce?

No, and it probably never will be. Despite the judges’ eternal optimism that the famous person dressed as an enormous taco is either Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake or Meghan Markle, The Masked Singer attracts a certain level of celebrity and talent, and Beyonce is way above it.  

So the contestants are well-known for their musical prowess?

Not always. The show does pull some legit singing talent (like Deni Hines and Christine Anu on the Australian version, or Seal in the US), but that warbler dressed as a big piece of broccoli is more likely to be a reality star, actor or athlete. Think Tori Spelling, Sarah Palin or, um, Australian cricketer Brett Lee.  

Is it as bonkers as it sounds?


But why? Haven’t we suffered enough this year?

It’s the year of the mask, and the age of dressing up in silly costumes to cheer people up. There’s no better time for a bit of ridiculous, fun television.  

What do the judges do?

The judges try to work out the identity of each singer, but mostly they’re having the time of their lives. Nothing makes a judge get out of their chair and raise their arms skyward than a pink sequined crocodile belting out a slow-mo cover of Britney Spears’s classic Toxic, even though they seem equally mystified and electrified about the very reason that they’re there.

Best of all is when the judges offer up serious critiques of each performance as if the singers aren’t standing in front of them dressed as a giant pair of lips.


Did you say a giant pair of lips?

The Masked Singer costumes are wonderfully elaborate, and probably the best bit about the show. We should probably expect a few Kiwiana-themed costumes in the New Zealand version, like an oversized buzzy bee or giant mince pie. Delicious.

What else can we expect from The Masked Singer NZ?

The series will screen sometime in 2021, and Three is promising a “vibrant and fresh reality series” that will showcase local celebrities like we’ve never seen before. That’s a big call given I still see David Seymour’s Dancing with the Stars neon sweatband whenever I close my eyes, but we can expect a variety of New Zealand TV presenters, sports stars and singers chucking on a big Kiwi costume to smash out ‘Why Does Love Do This To Me?’.  

Imagine Duncan Garner donning a sequinned sheep suit to give us his best ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, or Winston Peters squeezing into a giant jandal costume to croon ‘My Way’. Comedian Urzila Carlson was a judge on the recent Australian series, so she could bring her judging experience to deduce whether it’s Erin Simpson or Kanoa Lloyd who’s rocking an oversized lamington outfit and singing ‘Anchor Me’ as if their career depended on it. Either way, we’re about to see a whole new side to both New Zealand celebrities and big broccoli.  

The latest American season of The Masked Singer screens on Three on Friday nights and on ThreeNow.

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