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Top 10 Masked Musicians

VO: Rebecca Brayton
For some artists, it's not only about giving the fans the best music, but also a unique and entertaining experience for all of the senses. For others, it can be about being shy or wanting to hide their true identities. Either way, using a mask or costume while you're in public, is sure to attract attention, especially if you're a music maker. For this list, we've chosen acts whose success and identities are tied to the costumes or masks they wear, and who are the whole package when it comes to audio and visual. In this video, we count down our picks for the top 10 costumed or masked musicians and bands.

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They have nothing to hide… or do they? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 costumed or masked musicians.

For this list, we’ve chosen acts whose success and identities are tied to the costumes or masks they wear, and who are the whole package when it comes to audio and visual.

#10 – The Residents

These multimedia pioneers have been making avant-garde and experimental music for over four decades. But, what makes them more unique is their commitment to their art and the methods they’ve taken to remain anonymous: in public, The Residents don’t speak and masquerade as top hat-wearing eyeballs in tuxedos. Though their technology-enhanced live shows have made waves, their true identities remain hidden to this day.

#9 – Parliament-Funkadelic

Funk innovator George Clinton leads this collective of musicians, whose P-Funk style is at its best when experienced in concert: thanks to their blend of funk, psychedelic rock, R&B, soul and doo-wop and their bright, freaky and evolving costumes, it’s an explosion of sounds and color. Featuring some of the most skilled musicians and performers out there, Parliament-Funkadelic’s influence reaches far and wide.

#8 – Insane Clown Posse

These hardcore hip hoppers brought many people’s fear of clowns to life. With their Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope personas, they added a terrifying dimension to their supernatural and horror-infused lyrics and enhanced the craziness of their live shows. Though the horrorcore genre hasn’t really found a mainstream audience, Insane Clown Posse has spawned a devoted bunch of followers with the Juggalos.

#7 – GWAR

This may come as a shock to some, but this bunch of heavy metallers has two Grammy nominations under their belt. Known for donning latex alien costumes and dousing fans with fake blood, GWAR has found a formula for success that has amassed them thousands of fans. If you love thrash metal, comedy rock or sci-fi and horror, then these intergalactic humanoid creatures are for you.

#6 – Slipknot

Popping up on the metal scene around the same time as the masked musicians of Mushroomhead, Slipknot grabbed the masses’ attention with their aggressive sound, terrifying disguises and frenzied performances. The band has defended the masks as a way to gain intimacy with the music and to protect their privacy. Whether you think it’s gimmicky or not, their carefully concocted image works: these Grammy winners have topped charts and sold millions.

#5 – Village People

“There’s no need to feel down,” when the Village People are in town: their tunes will make you dance and sing! Though their multiple on-stage personas were meant to appeal to disco’s gay fans, these “young men” hit it big thanks to the genre’s worldwide popularity. With their memorable singles and signature costumes, the Village People solidified their place in pop culture for good.

#4 – Daft Punk

Kraftwerk may have used robots before them, but Daft Punk did it “harder, better, faster, stronger.” At first, the French house duo masked their faces to cover their shyness, but they eventually used them to keep people’s attention on the music. They’ve since become known for their signature robot getups, which give them an air of mystery and match the rich, technology-inspired visuals of their shows and music videos.

#3 – Marilyn Manson

While he may not fit your description of one of “the beautiful people,” it’s hard to deny Marilyn Manson’s looks aren’t part of his notoriety and success. By carefully crafting an image around controversial themes like Satanism, sex and drugs, the Antichrist Superstar has shocked and awed countless people. But his graphic lyrics and performances have also allowed him to push numerous political, social and religious boundaries along the way.

#2 – Alice Cooper

Though Screamin’ Jay Hawkins brought macabre to the stage first, it’s Alice Cooper who’s the “godfather of shock rock.” Inspired by horror imagery, he crafted elaborate stage shows laden with execution devices, fake blood and reptiles. He upped the shock factor by dressing up to match with black eye makeup, corpse paint and loads of leather! His heavy metal sound and showmanship also set the stage for many shock rockers thereafter.

#1 – KISS

Influenced by Arthur Brown’s flashy stage makeup and burning helmet, KISS certainly “dressed to kill.” While their music was loud, catchy and anthemic, it was their eye-catching costumes and standout black-and-white makeup that cemented their hard rockin’ success worldwide. Add pyrotechnics and diverse special effects, and you’ve got a band who’ll not only “rock and roll all night” but who inspired the likes of GWAR, Lordi and more.

Do you agree with our list? Who are your favorite costumed or masked musicians? Be sure to subscribe to for more entertaining top 10s.

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