Hunter Hayes is no longer “Wanted” on “The Masked Singer.” The country singer was the latest star to be unmasked on the hit Fox reality competition series, having been disguised as the Astronaut.
For his final performance, Hayes performed “Story of My Life” by One Direction on Wednesday night’s episode.
Hayes told Variety that he took the “Masked Singer” gig because, coincidentally, his next album — the second in his “Wild Blue” trilogy — will focus on themes of “the unknown and embracing the unknown.”
“It was a great chance for me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things in a safe place — even though it airs on national TV,” Hayes said. “I think being behind a mask gave me confidence and gave me the chance to really push myself.”
Hayes said he was offered both the Robot and Astronaut costumes, but chose the Astronaut because flying is a frequent reference in his music.
“When we saw the Astronaut, it was as if they tailored this mask, based on my current story,” he said. “Especially when I saw it in person and started working in the suit, it definitely felt like an extension of me, more than a costume. Other than the fact that it was very challenging to move in and breathe in.”
Indeed, Hayes said the costume was probably easier to maneuver than some of his celebrity competitors’ outfits, but nonetheless the reflection of the metallic Astronaut costume and its rigidness made it difficult at times.
“The only real challenge was learning how to overcome that threshold and continue pushing what I thought the suit could do or I could do in a suit,” he said. “It was very hot, it was a giant heater. The lady that was helping me in and out of my suit every day, told me that every time she would take the backpack off, there was a steam coming from the suit.”
Hayes also said the secrecy of the show also presented a challenge.
“I had it easy, because I was meant to be in LA, and all my friends and family and colleagues knew that I was in LA working on an album,” he said. “I kind of lived this sort of double life, I would get up super early in the morning, we’d go and rehearse and then then I’d get back home right around the time that I would normally wake up.”
As for the panel guesses, Nicole Scherzinger got it right with Hayes, partly because she remembered performing with him at a July 4 event in Washington, D.C. Guest panelist Gordon Ramsay and Robin Thicke thought it was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, while Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg picked Ben Platt. Ken Jeong chose Skylar Astin, who was Scherzinger’s original guess.
“It was all over the map,” Hayes said of the panel’s guesses throughout the season. “I was flattered by a lot of them because they were these triple threat people who can dance, sing and act. But every episode there was something that was just outrageous. The one that sticks out the most is Eddie Vedder. That that was the most entertaining part.”
Besides Hayes, so far this season, Lil Wayne, Drew Carey, Chaka Khan, Tony Hawk, Dionne Warwick, Tom Bergeron, Sarah Palin, Bella Thorne, JoJo Siwa, Rob Gronkowski, Jordyn Woods and Bret Michaels have all been revealed.
As the competition continues, five celebrities are left this season: Turtle, Frog, Kitty, Rhino and Night Angel. The quarterfinals will air next week.
Here’s a recap of this week’s contestants and their performances on Wednesday:
Kitty’s song: “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” by Marilyn Monroe
Clues from Kitty: “I’ve been on many stages and played many roles in my nine lives. I learned the hard way, it’s not enough to just have a good voice. If I want to stay in this fairyland, I have to reinvent myself everytime I step out on that stage. I’m taking a cue from some of the soloists I’ve performed with before.”
Kitty’s masked munchies: Opera cake (Multi-layered chocolate cake)
Panel guesses: Charlotte Church, Lea Michele, Eva Longoria
Rhino’s song: “Die A Happy Man,” by Thomas Rhett
Clues from Rhino: “Rhinos are solitary creatures so I need to take my time with nature before going any further I need to reflect on chief source of power: My love for my wife and my baby rhinos. Tonight I hope I can attain nirvana and namaste in this competition.”
Rhino’s masked munchies: Spaghetti, meatballs and cheese
Panel guesses: Jeff Bridges, Charles Kelley, Barry Zito
Frog’s song: “Whatever It Takes,” by Imagine Dragons
Clues from Frog: “Joining a show with ‘singer’ in the title was a tough case to crack. But this whole experience has shown me I can do anything, if I just take the leap. So tonight, I’m pushing myself even further and taking a risk with a genre I’ve never tried before.”
Frog’s masked munchies: Catfish
Panel guesses: Lil Jon, Bow Wow, Omarion
Night Angel’s song: “Black Velvet,” by Alannah Myles
Clues from Night Angel: “I’ve gotten a lot of calls in my life. Some good, some bad, some that even upended my life. But the key to my success is, I answer them all. Being here has reawakened parts of myself I’ve been keeping on the down-low, reminding me I don’t have to go chasing anyone else. I can stand on my own.”
Night Angel’s masked munchies: Crickets on a stick
Panel guesses: Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, Kandi Burruss, Dawn Robinson
Turtle’s song: “Stay,” by Alessia Cara
Clues from Turtle: “My whole career, I’ve been riddled with insecurities about not being good enough. Despite my strategizing, I always seem to put myself in last place. This stage in this mask, I can feel my confidence growing in the right direction. Tonight, it’s not just about vocals, I’m showing I can be a full package entertainer, dance moves and all. Check mate.”
Turtle’s masked munchies: Tortilla chips and apple salsa
Panel guesses: Gavin DeGraw, Adam Lambert, Zayn Malik
Below, watch Hayes’ unmasking: