‘The Masked Singer’s Rottweiler Chris Daughtry: ‘I Never Felt More Alive on Stage’

Lisa Rose/FOX

The Masked Singer revealed the winner of Season 2 and unmasked the rest of its contestants in the season finale Wednesday, December 18. And finishing in second place? Rottweiler, who turned out to be none other than Chris Daughtry, as many had guessed.

The former American Idol contestant — who came in fourth place on Season 5 in 2006 — calls the two singing competitions “two different animals, no pun intended.” “They were so very different in the way they were set up and even the reason you were doing it,” he explains to TV Insider. “[The Masked Singer] wasn’t this, ‘my career’s over, I was just unmasked.’ There was nothing really serious about it, aside from the fact that I was very serious about doing my best and really taking advantage of it. It was just fun.”

The singer-songwriter also shares that of all of his fellow contestants, the only identity he was able to guess correctly while watching the season was singer Seal, who was revealed to be Leopard. “I know that voice anywhere,” he says.

Here, Daughtry discusses his experience returning to TV singing competitions on Masked Singer Season 2.

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You’re obviously very musical and used to performing in front of crowds. Were there any aspects of doing that in this way that you didn’t account for and discovered — good or bad — when you first took the stage this season?

Chris Daughtry: First of all, how difficult it was going to be see with no peripheral vision or not really getting a full scope of what’s surrounding you. Also just how winded you would get when you combine any choreography or even just standing there is hard enough, but you’re breathing your own air over and over and it’s almost like singing in a paper bag. I feel like I’m all over the stage during my performances and I never get winded, so I didn’t realize how difficult that was going to be and how much it would change my ability to really sing the way I typically sing when I’m doing my shows.

Let’s talk about the appeal of the Rottweiler costume. You’ve mentioned you were bit by one. Do you feel differently about Rottweilers now?

I think I gotta give them another chance, right? That’s the whole transformative aspect of being in the costume and for me it was like in the same way that Batman became Batman by becoming what he feared the most, bats, it was me embodying my fear and thing I’m most terrified of and how much of a juxtaposition it was in the sense it was this super cute Rottweiler and it wasn’t the image of the Rottweiler I had in my head. It was a really cool connection.

Can you talk about your song choices?

We thought about that a lot when we were picking the songs. I’m a big Hall & Oates fan and “Maneater” is one of my favorite Hall & Oates song, and I just thought it would be really cool to go out with something super classic and modernize it. That was a lot of fun to do choreography to.

And I always wanted to sing a Sia song, but I wanted to save it in case I went to the finale because I just thought it summed up my whole experience. I never felt more alive on stage and present and just free and liberated to do whatever I wanted without any preconceived notions of who I am or they think I should be doing.

For me, I liked that people don’t realize I can actually dance, mainly because I can pick up moves very easily and I’m a very visual learner like that. I knew that would be a fun thing to do because it doesn’t really cater to our music. We wanted to pick songs that gave some opportunity for that.

Also I didn’t want to be too high up in my register because it was going to be super difficult in the costume and I didn’t want to be too signature me. We would lower keys to showcase a different part of my voice. I didn’t really disguise it. Maybe I backed off a little bit on the grit.

What was it like for you to hear some of the guesses from the panelists and from America?

My phone blew up instantly. Everyone was hitting me up. The fan base was clued in immediately. A lot of my friends were texting me, and I couldn’t say anything. I had to lie, lie, lie. Anytime I would hear a name that wasn’t mine, it made me so happy, it didn’t matter who it was. I remember when they guessed Jared Leto, that was really cool for me, because I love Jared Leto. And Gavin Rossdale. Those were really fun for me because it felt like it was in the same vein of my style of singing, so I felt like they were onto something. When they started mentioning Darren Criss, I didn’t quite get that because I don’t know his stuff very well. They seemed to be pretty adamant about that. That was pretty fun to hear every week because it was like, “Good, I’m throwing them off my trail.”

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What appealed to you the most about doing this show and what are you going to take away from this entire experience?

What intrigued me the most was just the freedom to perform under that veil of anonymity and not feel like you have to do what people expect you to do because they know who you are or think know who you are and that was really attractive to me.

I remember seeing this clip years ago of Ryan Reynolds as a unicorn on King of Masked Singer in Korea and ever since I saw that, I was like, “Oh my gosh, that would be so fun to do, just in any capacity.” Just to sing in a costume like that and no one knows who you are, I thought that was really fun.

(Lisa Rose/FOX)

Then my publicist was like, “Hey, you watch Masked Singer? … Last season just ended and they’re wanting to know if you’d want to do it.” I was like, “Absolutely.” I caught up and found out T-Pain was The Monster, and I know T-Pain, so that was really cool because I didn’t guess it.

I was like, I feel like I’ve been missing this, whatever this is, this excitement again because you do the day in and day out being on tour and for lack of a better term, it gets a little redundant, even though you love it. You’re doing the same thing. This felt like such a challenge and an exciting opportunity. It just seemed like, even if I got to do one or two songs, a lot of fun and I wanted to experience that.

If I could take away anything from that, it would be to embrace that freedom without the mask.

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Are you going to tune in to Season 3?

Oh, absolutely. I’m a huge fan of it now. It’s so fun to watch and wonder if one of your peers or friends is in the costume. I think it’s a great show. I think it’s a great concept.

The Masked Singer, Season 3 Premiere, Sunday, February 2, 10:30/9:30c, Fox