Is The Masked Singer a new kind of talent competition?

Talent competitions are highly popular in America, ranging from dancing to unique talents. However, singing competitions draw in viewers by the millions and generally receive positive feedback. (Photo used with permission of Flickr)

Over the past five years, more and more Americans each year are tuning into reality tv shows. Out of the reality tv genre, competition based series have dominated the field with shows like America’s Got Talent.

America’s Got Talent saw a total of 14.6 million viewers in 2017 and became the summer’s most watched show in 2018. America’s Got Talent seems to favor singers, and since the show’s debut in 2006, almost 50% of winners are singers.

Talent competitions garner huge views due to the premise that anyone can become famous. It is simple as auditioning and even if one does not have substantial talent, producers and viewers also value personality. Seeing an individual with a unique personality or even representing a major cause can bring in tons of views and often receives positive feedback from viewers.

One key thing to keep in mind, however, is the lifespan of fame these winners ultimately receive. For example take the popular talent show The Voice. Numerous winners from that competition have barely launched their careers to this date, or do not receive the same attention they did when they starred on the show. Viewers grow bored quickly, and the constant need to churn out new ideas and tv shows to keep them satisfied can become difficult when the concept is so repetitive.

Taking a turn from this popular concept comes the opposite, a show that instead of finding new talent, uses celebrities as contestants.The show combines aspects that show favorable ratings. From the personality of celebrities, which draws influence from series such as Keeping Up With The Kardashians and guessing games, that are highly popular due to a surge in murder mysteries. With those combined ideas comes a new American singing competition called The Masked Singer .

The show, which takes place in other countries like South Korea, received a large following and high ratings. The show is a competition involving celebrities performing in elaborate costumes and requires the audience and judges to guess who the celebrity is.

While it seems foolproof to work over in America, the ratings and reception for the show displays unfavorable reviews. The show is watchable on FOX, yet many viewers have taken to YouTube where clips of the show give them the ability to comment and share their opinions.

So how did something as a simple singing competition go wrong? The idea of the show bothered fans mainly due to the casting choice. Instead of casting famous singers, the American version casted mostly celebrities and not singers. This idea almost defeats the purpose, which is to identify the singer by their singing voice. If you have never heard the celebrity sing, for example football players, it could be very difficult to try and identify the voice.

Americans are often stereotyped for their loud outgoing personalities, but the judges for the show garner criticism for their over dramatization of guessing and commentating. Throughout the songs, the judges will comment frequently, creating a jarring experience for the listener. To listen the back and forth between the singer and the commentary has irritated many fans.

The Masked Singer did try to help the viewers out and each week would release a series of clues on YouTube to fans, to help them guess in who is behind each mask. While this seems like a great solution, the clues gave too much information and made each person easily recognizable, ruining the guessing game the show provides.

With the obsession, many shows utilize autotune and other post-production effects to make the voice sound more appealing. This is prevalent in The Masked Singer, with singers having pre-recorded audio and in some cases slight modifications. Some fans have viewed that as an issue, saying that it ruins the idea of a singing competition.

Despite all the negativity, The Masked Singer still turns in substantial views. The first episode that premiered on January 2 2019, received 9 million live viewers. Through following week, the show saw a total of 12 million views via Hulu.

Believe it or not, The Masked Singer has potential to make a mark on reality tv shows. The show features one of the best marketing tactics: celebrities. Each week, a celebrity performs a certain song, and the most popular or best singer of the week advances to the next round.

It is no surprise that society idolizes celebrities and watching them compete against each other provides quality entertainment. Many Americans feel envious or idolize the rich lifestyle shown by celebrities. By watching celebrities embarrass themselves on stage, provides comedic value. Any outcome in the show ends up receiving positive views as Americans continue to tune in to see the failure or success of celebrities every week. No matter the opinion, the truth is that reality tv and its competition based shows are the hit thing on tv in America. The Masked Singer does showcase many flaws, but hopefully by season 2, they’ll improve and take the show to new heights.


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