'The Masked Singer' Winner on Her Costume: The Other Choice 'Was So on the Nose'
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 4 finale of The Masked Singer, "Last Mask Standing."]
Then there were three — but which masked celebrity shines the brightest at the end of Season 4?
Yes, it's Sun who walks away with the Golden Mask trophy, beating out Mushroom (second) and Crocodile (third) for the honor. And after the other two are unmasked (as Aloe Blacc and Nick Carter, respectively), it's time to find out who wowed everyone (and drove panelists to tears) all season: singer-songwriter LeAnn Rimes.
The multi-hyphenate (she's an actress and author, too) isn't sure if she's been approached for a previous season, but the timing worked out perfectly for this one. "Honestly, this was the only time I really thought about doing it," she tells TV Insider. "I was at home and siting on the couch, thinking, 'I miss performing. It'd be fun to create this character and to just play and see what happens.'" Other seasons were longer — this was done in "a very short period of time" — and she would've likely been on tour.
Here, Rimes discusses her time on The Masked Singer and winning it all.
Congratulations on winning! If someone had told you years ago that you'd have a Golden Mask Trophy to go along with your Grammys…
LeAnn Rimes: [Laughs] Yeah, this is such a unique experience. I totally didn't think I'd ever be doing something like this in a million years. I don't think I'll ever do anything like it again. It was so fun to create this character and it was such a challenge and so much went into this whole process. It's just as important as my Grammys. All my blood, sweat, and tears, along with everyone else's that worked on the show went into this creation, so it's not like we weren't all really passionate about what we were doing. It made for a really fun time.
What appealed to you about the Sun? The costume itself? What it represented?
They came to me with different costumes, a lot had elements of the earth. There was a Moon costume, but we thought it was so on the nose because of "Can't Fight the Moonlight" — beautiful costume, but I was like, "Let me just sit with this for a moment and let me think about what I want to say, who I want to present and the messaging behind it. Why can't I be the opposite of the Moon, which people connect me to so much? I could be the Sun." And what a great time right now to bring light into this dark world.
For me, it just really connected visually to the message behind everything I'm putting out, between my Chant record and my Wholly Human podcast and my new song "If I Could Throw My Arms Around the World." There was a really specific story that I wanted to tell with the Sun and a specific feeling I wanted people to feel, of hope and unity, so a lot went into being the Sun and the arc of the songs and how I really wanted to shine some light in a dark moment.
The show itself is so joyful. People really tune in to get a hit of joy, [which] is unlike any other show on television. I'm glad that I got to tell the story and bring a character to life that really spoke to the opposite of the times we're in and what is possible.
You needed to adjust the costume after the first performance. Did your vocal experience and that arc for the songs help you figure out what needed to be done?
Yeah. I wanted to have a costume I could play around with different elements for different performances, and the halo especially was tough to sing in. The whole costume was challenging to be honest because it's so heavy. My skirt stood up on its own. It weighed 20 pounds. The halo behind me got stuffed down into the costume — it almost felt like a corset — so very challenging to sing in. For the Janis Joplin performance, I wanted to not have a skirt. I really wanted to be able to move so I took into the consideration when we were designing: "How can I play around with this singular costume and have different looks?"
Was there a specific song that after you performed it, you thought that you could win the season?
Y0u hope with every one of them, you've chosen one that would stand out to win. I definitely think the Billie Eilish was unique in the arrangement and being able to perform a cappella for most of that was super important to me. I wanted people to feel that intimacy.
Part of being behind that costume was there was no preconceived storyline that was connected to me and there was just the true essence of my voice and the story I was telling and for people to just be able to feel that was so important. That song especially, I went for people's hearts, 100 percent I knew what I was doing.
Is that different from the performance you're most proud of looking back at the entire season?
All of the performances I'm proud of in their own unique way. Especially I loved the Lizzo performance because it's so different than what people would've expected from me. That song and that performance especially is probably the highlight for me.
You didn't fool everyone, with fans and panelists guessing it was you. Was there anyone in particular on the panel that you expected to figure it out?
I thought Nicole would probably figure it out faster than anyone. And I've performed with Robin before. We've done a couple shows together and been on the same bill.
You also got everyone on the panel and probably most at home emotional with your songs, and then you got a bit emotional up there on stage as well. Did you have any inkling that might happen coming in to this?
That's where I go with my music: to the heart of us, of human beings. I like to be able to stir up emotions in people. I do it in my concerts. I love to be able to take people to places where they don't normally go, and music is such a beautiful tool to be able to instantly move people. For me, especially, I cry at everything. I'm so emotional at everything. When you're opening yourself up that way and to the whole experience of just being completely bare when you perform, there's so much emotion.
I expect that to happen for myself and a lot of the time people are moved by the fact I'm willing to be that vulnerable. It's so powerful to be able to connect to people on that level. That's, as a musician, what I strive to do every time I open my mouth to sing. How can I connect with the song I'm singing, the story I'm telling? How can I connect with my own heart? How can I connect with the anger or the joy inside of me and bring that to life? It was just beautiful to see that reflected back from people being moved by it.
What are you going to take away from the overall experience?
Anything I do from here on out is super easy because that costume was 150 million percent a massive challenge to sing in. Having that weight off of me now when I sing, it's pure freedom. I don't think I'll ever complain again about being in any kind of costume.
And there's the weight off having to deny it was you.
Yes, it's been so challenging. I've done interviews for my Chant record and full-on had to be, "I have no idea what you're talking about. ... Whoever it is, they're fantastic." All my social media has blown up, my mom's texting me constantly. I can't say anything.
You didn't tell your mom?
No, no, no! My mom knew from the moment I opened my mouth. She watches the show. I'm still like, "Mom, I don't know what you're talking about. It's not me." But she's like, "You can't fool me. I birthed you." She's right. If there's anyone I can't fool, it'd be her.
The Masked Singer, Season 5, Spring 2021, Fox