“I’m excited to for people to continue connecting with me in this way,” said Rimes, who had been disguised as the Sun. “I think it’s giving people a new view on what they feel from the music and that’s really powerful.”
Rimes’ “The Masked Singer” unmasking coincided with the release of her new song, “Throw My Arms Around the World.” She also recently unveiled a new meditative chant album, “Chant: The Human & The Holy,” and is finishing up a new album of music with a target May release date. Additionally, she hosts the podcast “Wholly Human” for iHeart Media.
“It’s just a moment where I’m really kind of utilizing my voice in many different ways and for me it’s been a massive expansion,” she said. “Because I was so proficient at utilizing my singing voice. But now in all these other different ways and creating different pieces with that voice has been exciting.”
In performing as an anonymous character, Rimes said she relished the idea of the audience hearing her music without any of the preconceived notions of who she is. “People have known me for 25 years, and depending on where you come in on my story is what you connect with me, in your mind, who I am,” she said. “This is the first time people got to feel my essence, and my voice and my gift where there was no story attached. I knew I wanted people to feel me in such deep ways and different ways and so each song had very different feelings to them.”
That included kicking off her first performance with “Cuz I Love You,” by Lizzo. “I started off with Lizzo thinking like that might confuse people a little bit,” she said. “But as we went along I think I kind of gave in to the fact that I feel like people are going to know it’s me and I just wanted to bring these beautiful TV moments, and these great songs to life.”
Other songs she performed on the show as Sun included “Praying,” by Kesha; “Piece of My Heat,” by Janis Joplin; “When the Party’s Over,” by Billie Eilish; and “The Story,” by Brandi Carlile.
“I think there’s such a beautiful passion in ‘Praying’ and the Billie Eilish moment, I was very specific in wanting to do that song mostly a capella and just have this really intense intimate moment on the show.”
Meanwhile, second place finisher Aloe Blacc said he also felt a bit transformed by his time as the Mushroom on “The Masked Singer.”
“Doing the show really was an opportunity for me to step outside of the normal, every day, Aloe Blacc,” he said. “This was a chance for me to kind of experience, what the rigors of theater might be like, playing a different character, having choreography. Doing it repetitively in a way that we have to do camera rehearsals, light blocking, choreography. All of these challenges that normally I don’t have to face. And, you know, I’m hoping that I can use some of what I’ve learned here in my every day artistry. I’m super grateful that I had the chance to do it at this time, because I feel like we really do need the kind of joy and the kind of happiness that the ‘Masked Singer’ brings to the country to the world.”
Blacc’s final song as Mushroom was “I Wish,” by Stevie Wonder, but before that he chose songs from female artists: “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush (although he covered Maxwell’s cover of the song); “If I Could Turn Back Time,” by Cher; “Unconditionally,” by Katy Perry; and “Valerie,” by Amy Winehouse.
“I specifically chose the female power ballads, just so that I could use a completely different part of my voice,” he said. “Because if I just come out singing with the same tenor, with a little bit of that rasp in there, I think people would have guessed who I was right away. So instead I wanted to do something like what I did with the Cher song.”
Blacc dropped his latest studio album, “All Love Everything,” earlier this fall.
As for third place Nick Carter, who performed as the Crocodile, doing “The Masked Singer” was a way for the Backstreet Boys star to also reassert himself as a solo artist.
“I’ve always felt as if maybe I haven’t been really good on my own, haven’t come into my own as a solo artist,” Carter said. “I do feel as if I tried to put some records out, but I’ve had failed records. And, I just felt like it was a way to maybe grow a little bit more as an artist — for my group and also individually — and challenge myself. Also, I think when you put on that mask, people are only listening to your voice. They can only hear one thing. There’s none of the other extra added noise. It’s just the performance itself and the voice. I was interested to see what people would think about that and I’m actually pleasantly surprised how far I went.”
Carter wowed the show’s panel and audience with his renditions of “It’s My Life,” by Bon Jovi; “Toxic,” by Britney Spears; “Bleeding Love,” by Leona Lewis; “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” by Aerosmith; and “Open Arms,” by Journey.
“I felt like maybe if there was anybody out there who is turning on the show and wants to escape a little bit from the reality of what everyone’s going through right now, if I could just be a little part of that story, to bring a little bit of joy. That would be the reason I’d want to do it.”
Carter also hopes to capitalize on the success and attention that comes with being on “The Masked Singer,” having released the new song “80’s Movie” this week.
“Our reach of the talent that we had, we had some of our best singers ever the season,” said executive producer Craig Plestis. Our final three were exceptional. Croc, Mushroom and Sun, I have to say, the finale had probably the best finale numbers we’ve ever done.”