Season 4 of The Masked Singer has been the strongest yet, featuring actually excellent singers that sound like they should instead be competing on American Idol or The Voice — or even at the Grammy Awards. But on Wednesday’s “Super Six” semifinals, half of these talented cosplaying contenders were sadly eliminated, all at once. And shockingly, among them were a three-time Grammy nominee, Taylor “The Popcorn” Dayne, and a two-time Grammy winner, Tori “The Seahorse” Kelly.
“The people who are going home today, they could have won in another season,” proclaimed judge Nicole Scherzinger, who later told Tori, “I’m not going to lie, I’m gutted that you’re going home, because we thought that you could take the entire competition. ... You’re the best vocalist we’ve ever had on the show.”
I’d also assumed that this week’s third axed contestant, the Jellyfish — who, as Nicole stated, could have been a frontrunner in any other season — was a professional entertainer, after she wowed everyone with this week’s powerful cover of Rihanna’s “Stay.” But the gelatinous chanteuse turned out to be Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim. Chloe can sing! The woman who once won the gold in the women's snowboard halfpipe apparently also possesses a golden set of vocal pipes. While judge Ken Jeong guessed this contestant correctly, for once, Nicole actually thought the Jellyfish was an electropop hipster like Grimes or Charli XCX.
I really thought I’d see the Popcorn (who did a Tina Turner cover this Wednesday that Ken described as a “religious experience”) and the Seahorse (whose Bruno Mars cover this week was a sassy tour de force) at this season’s finale, alongside fellow mystery diva the Sun. But then again, my predictions have been uncharacteristically wonky this season. I’m still cringing over that time I thought the Giraffe was Tommy Lee (when it was actually, um, Brian Austin Green, who perhaps uncoincidentally will soon be a regular judge on spinoff series The Masked Dancer). And up until this week, I was convinced that the Seahorse was Carly Rae Jepsen and the Jellyfish was Ashlee Simpson. And a lot of people even thought that the Seahorse was Jessica Simpson! So, all bets are off. However, if I were still a betting woman, I’d wager that in two weeks’ time, the Sun will win the Golden Mask trophy over this week’s other two surviving finalists, the Crocodile and the Mushroom.
But who, exactly, are the Sun, Crocodile, and Mushroom? Well, I used to pride myself on my now-tarnished Masked Singer track record, but I’m willing to examine this week’s clues and give it another try…
The Crocodile, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”
The Croc star dedicated this sentimental song choice (known on the reality-TV circuit as “The Asteroid Song”) to his two “hatchlings” at home, and Nicole was impressed by the emotional result, exclaiming, “Where did that come from? ... You laid it all out there on the line tonight!” Nicole’s fellow judge, Robin Thicke, agreed that it was the rawkin’ reptile’s “best performance yet.”
The clues: Aside from the key information that the Crocodile is a father of two, he once again alluded to his own difficult childhood, saying he wanted to give his kids “the life and love I didn’t have.” Each contestant tonight also revealed a personal connection to one of the Masked Singer judges, and the Crocodile mentioned that he had once “shared the screen” with this week’s guest judge, Craig Robinson.
Judges’ guesses: A.J. McLean, Nick Lachey.
My guesses: The A.J. guess wasn’t too off the mark, since the Backstreet Boys appeared in the 2013 comedy flick This Is the End with Craig. But the entire internet seems to think this is another Backstreet Boy, Nick Carter, and the Crocodile really sounds like him. Nick (and his troubled younger brother, Aaron) also endured a lot of family instability, as anyone who used to watch another infamous reality show, House of Carters, can attest. So, I agree with the internet: This larger-than-life lizard is probably the BSB heartthrob.
The Mushroom, “Valerie”
This fun guy did the jaunty, jazzy Amy Winehouse/Mark Ronson version of the Zutons’ mid-aughts indie hit, and while it was one of his weakest vocals — weaker than the Jellyfish, who sang against him in Wednesday’s instant-death smackdown — it was a buoyant performance that ultimately dominated the vote from the judges and virtual audience. Maybe it was that crowd-pleasing beatbox freestyle at the end of the song that gave the Mushroom the edge.
The clues: This vegetable seemed very rooted, very Zen, expressing a desire to “share a message of unity” during these difficult times. He also revealed that someone close to him recently died from the coronavirus, and that he’s “mixed it up” with Robin in the past. This week’s visual clue was a clock set to 3 p.m.
Judges’ guesses: Jaden Smith, Jordan Fisher, Leslie Odom Jr., Keegan-Michael Key.
My guess: Again, I’m not placing any bets, but based on this week’s clues and past clues, I still think the Mushroom is Pharrell Williams. Not only does this costume’s wide-brimmed headpiece resemble the “Happy” singer’s famous Vivienne Westwood Buffalo hat, but Pharrell has of course mixed it up with Robin on “Blurred Lines.” The clock could be a reference to Pharrell’s line of luxury wristwatches, and the number 3 to his triplets, who were born in 2017.
The Sun, “When the Party’s Over”
Choosing to start a “song that exposes my entire soul to the whole world” with an a cappella incantation, the Sun gave everyone chills. This was the most magical performance in Masked Singer history, bringing all of the judges to tears. “This is the reason I love music so much: It transcends everything. I could listen to you forever. You have a voice of the heavens. That was flawless. You are flawless,” sobbed Nicole. “All my life, I’ve felt the heat of the sun. I have never heard the voice of the sun — until now,” raved Craig.
The clues: She started doing dance competitions at age 5, and she first met Nicole in a bathroom at an awards show (which implies she’s an accoladed singer). She was also seen breathing fire.
Judges’ guesses: Alicia Keys, LeAnn Rimes, Brandi Carlile, Kate Hudson, Amelia Clarke.
My guess: This is LeAnn Rimes. Every past clue has added up, and this week, it was even more obvious. The youngest-ever Best New Artist Grammy-winner did a song by the second-youngest Best New Artist recipient, Billie Eilish — a song LeAnn covered earlier this year, before her viral video was mysteriously scrubbed from the internet. She just released an album inspired by her meditation practice, CHANT: The Human & The Holy, and I’m pretty sure that flaming clue was a reference to the “breath of fire” Kundalini yoga move. But the bottom line is, few people can sing as beautifully and shine as brightly as this — and LeAnn sure can.
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