Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer.
The sequined fish with powerful and versatile vocals was revealed to be two-time Grammy winner Tori Kelly. Ahead, the gospel artist and former American Idol semi-finalist reveals what she would have sung in the Masked Singer finale, why she was initially hesitant to do the show, and she gives EW the lowdown on her new Christmas album.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you say yes to doing The Masked Singer?
TORI KELLY: So they asked me to do it, and I'm gonna be honest, at first I was like, wait, that show is crazy. I don't know if I can do it — it's really out there and wild. After giving it some thought, I realized that it could be a cool opportunity to kind of show many different sides to me, really, and kind of show my alter ego a little bit and have fun with the songs. So after a little bit of thinking it through, I got really excited about it. So I said yes.
Your costume was so beautiful, but the panelists made a good point that it doesn't have a tail. Did it ever have one? The show is usually so fond of its costumes with tails.
Thanks. The costume team is just incredible. I was obsessed with them. And I don't think it originally had a tail. I just know when I saw the sketch of it when they kind of presented it to me, I thought it was cool, but I didn't realize how sparkly and amazing it would be in person. So it wasn't until I went to the fitting and kind of tried it on and saw it in person that I was just blown away. I believe this is the first time they were experimenting with airbrushing too on a mask, which I thought was really awesome. [There was] so much detail. I remember they were literally adding rhinestones every episode, like every time I put the outfit on, it was like, oh, there's more rhinestones in this little corner near my hand! Every single centimeter of my body was covered in rhinestones. So that was fun for me to notice little things like that every time.
I was stunned that you were sent home this week. Were you disappointed?
I mean, it's hard to say disappointed because it's just such a fun experience as a whole. And I think there is a little part of me too, right when they said I was going home, I was like, oh, okay, cool. I get to show people that it's me. It's such a unique show. So it's hard to be so sad when I feel like I got to show so many different sides of me. Each of my song choices were really, really particular actually. From the Rihanna song, I wanted to show just kind of the sassier side of me and really focus on my strut in that song. For the Britney [Spears] song, I love doing vocal impressions, so I thought that was a fun opportunity to kind of throw them off a little bit and try to sound like Britney a little bit. Even doing the Bruno [Mars] song, the last song I did, I wanted to just dance. I wanted to do choreography and kind of step out of my comfort zone in that way because I'm so used to being seen with a guitar. So yeah, I guess to answer your question, I don't think disappointed is the right word, but it's just a whole mixture of feelings. You feel kind of exposed when you take the mask off. It's just weird because you're like, "Wait! You're not supposed to see who I am!" It's a whole mixture of things and it was really, really unique — I guess that's the best word to describe that feeling.
What would you have sung in the finale if you had made it?
I was thinking of doing a Sam Smith song, actually. [I wanted to do their] song "Latch" with Disclosure because I just wanted to, if I made it to the finale, just kind of have like a party song and just have fun with it and jump around and go crazy on stage. So I think that was going to be an option for the finale.
How did you feel when Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger finally guessed it was you?
Ironically, the two musicians ended up finally guessing me and I've actually met both of them before. So they were kind of like, "I can't believe I didn't realize it was you!" I've literally sang with both of them before. So that felt kind of good, though, because that was my goal, to really throw them off and and try to make them think of other people. So I feel like I accomplished that with the panelists.
Your fans were a different story. They clocked you immediately! Did you follow along with the theories online at all?
Oh, yeah. I mean, I would be lying if I said I didn't go on Twitter and look at all the comments, and Instagram and all of that. I mean, I kind of had a feeling that my fans are gonna know right away that it's me. I mean, they were finding like old videos of little hand movements that I would do and put it right next to the Seahorse clips and they're dissecting the clues, but they knew right away. I can't even try to hide from them, even when I would do the little impression stuff they knew. So yeah, I guess that's a good thing that my fans know me. I can't hide. So I'll take that as a good thing. [Laughs.]
Who was your "Spiritual Advisor" in your third clue package?
That was Kirk Franklin actually. We actually did a whole gospel album together. And he's become not just a producer to me, but he's really become like a mentor, him and his wife, to my husband and I. I can call him and ask for advice on anything. And I just really value who he is in my life. So yeah, he seemed like a good choice to kind of have on there and make a little cameo about. I think he was talking about when we first worked together and everything. That was a fun little test.
Now that you've performed with all of the finalists, did you find yourself trying to guess who else was on the show with you?
Yeah, I mean I had some idea… I was definitely trying to guess and I was trying to play the game with everyone else. I had some idea, but we'll see. That's the whole fun of the show, you know?
You've been busy this year. Tell me about what you've been working on lately.
I put out a Christmas album this year, so that's been really fun and something I've always wanted to do. And I mean, ironically, this year of all the years as crazy as it's been, it was the year to do it. I've been home and I have a recording studio at home. So it just kind of happened and I'm so proud of how it turned out. I got to record it all with the legendary Babyface. And we did it all remotely like on Facetime and emails and stuff. I'm just so thankful that I get to even put out music and continue to create during such a crazy time. That's kind of my Christmas gift to everyone this year.