Leave it to a guy who has built an entire empire out of tacos and donuts, kicked ass in action flicks like From Dusk Till Dawn and Grindhouse, and appeared in several Slayer music videos to dress up like a hungry raccoon and deliver two of the most trash-rockin’ performances in Masked Singer history.
Yes, at the end of The Masked Singer’s Group A performance show Wednesday, it was revealed that the one-and-only actor-restaurateur Danny Trejo lurked behind the Raccoon’s ringed eyes — after he weasel-screeched his way through “Ring of Fire,” an outlaw performance only slightly less unhinged than his cover of the Troggs’ three-chord proto-punk garage classic “Wild Thing” on the Season 5 premiere.
The judges guessed that all sorts of rebels and eccentrics might be behind the Raccoon mask, including Nick Nolte, Sammy Hagar, Joe Pesci, Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Sylvester Stallone, Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman (huh?), and Gary Busey. I’d guessed Busey myself a couple weeks ago, based on “Wild Thing,” a bonkers number that made Mickey “The Gremlin” Rourke’s “Stand by Me” from Season 4 seem tame and in tune.
But this week’s clues about the Raccoon learning to box from his uncle, becoming an actor late in life, and training other actors to fight — coupled with his previously mentioned storyline about prison and redemption — made it clear that this was Danny. If only the Raccoon had pulled a taco or donut (or maybe a machete) from one of those onstage prop trashcans, the judges would have figured it out.
"I feel like a winner, I don't care!" Trejo said with a smile after being eliminated. "Besides that, I was a cute raccoon!" He also shared a sweet moment with judge Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, saying, "Jenny, I'm helping raise two autistic kids, and you know what? I love the work that you do. I mean that from the bottom of my heart." Aw. Trejo really was a cuddly character tonight.
So, that left three other celebrity cosplayers in Group A… or actually four, as this week’s episode introduced the first “wild card” contestant of this “game-changing season”: a shiny blue whale named the Orca, who showed up out of nowhere with a big splash and made some major waves. Here are the Group A singers who performed well enough to maintain their masks for at least another round:
The Russian Dolls, “Wonder”
After splitting into two separate singing pods on Season 5’s premiere, this week these replicant collectibles multiplied and regenerated again, hatching a third, smaller doll with an equally massive voice. (And apparently there’s a still-unseen fourth doll, according to some overheard backstage banter!) Judge Nicole Scherzinger was wowed by their “real major vocals,” and Robin Thicke was rightfully “blown away.”
Clues: We saw a solar system with three planets, a varsity jacket with the letter M, and a banjo. They admitted that they “haven’t always been in unison,” revealed that one of the dolls was once hospitalized with a serious health scare, and mentioned the word “pop.” In their previous episode, the Russian Dolls said they “used to be the world’s hottest toy,” but people “tried to put them in a box,” so now they’ve been “doing their own thing for quite some time.”
Judges’ guesses: Lady A, Sugarland, the Jacksons, Boyz II Men.
My guess: There is no need to “Wonder” here. This is without a doubt independent “MMMBop” pop trio Hanson, whose eldest brother Isaac nearly died from a pulmonary embolism in 2007. (And yes, there’s a fourth musical Hanson brother, Mac, who may or may not be in one of those doll costumes.) Also, the Russian Dolls sound exactly like Hanson. Their harmonies haven’t changed much since their first game-changing television performance, playing acoustic on MTV’s The Jenny McCarthy Show in 1997 — so I think Jenny is just playing dumb. Come on, she knows this isn’t friggin’ Lady A.
The Robopine, “All of Me”
Directly serenading Nicole with John Legend’s heart-on-spiked-sleeve slow-jam, the artist formerly known as the Porcupine delivered a Legend-ary performance. “First Season 5 tears! When you sang that song, everything else stopped,” gushed a flattered Nicole. Nicole even said this was her favorite Masked Singer performance ever (flattery will get you everywhere, Robopine) and called the quilled crooner “unbeatable.”
Clues: He has “been in a funk lately,” but competing on The Masked Singer made this 60-year-old porcupine feel sharp again. Visual clues included police sirens, lightning bolts, superheroes, a stuffed-animal cat, a royal throne, and a painting of a blond hair-metal rocker. He also mentioned growing up in Costa Rica, performing on “big stages,” overcoming arachnophobia, and deeply admiring sanitation workers (who instilled in him a strong work ethic). Previous Robopine clues referenced a rough childhood, either Washington D.C. or Washington state, a “random call” from an “angel” who “said hello,” and that fact that he has several kids and grandkids.
Judges’ guesses: Brian McKnight (who, it should be noted, was already on The Masked Dancer), Jason Derulo, Wesley Snipes, Eddie Murphy. (I guess the judges really do not believe that the fleet-footed Robopine is over 60 years old, huh?)
My guess: I was going to take the Robopine at his word, and say this is 61-years-young Babyface. And Tyrese Gibson and Jamie Foxx also seem like legitimate guesses, based on the vocals alone. But that Costa Rica clue has me stumped. I have a feeling when the mask comes off — which might not be until the finale, at this rate — it will be one of the biggest surprises in the show's history.
The Seashell, “Confident”
This marine goddess was shy during her first performance, admitting that it had been a very long time since she’d sang onstage. But she came out of her shell this week and earned a standing ovation from the judges. “Girl, you did that!” gasped impressed guest host Niecy Nash.
Clues: We saw a small black dog and black cat, a two-minute stopwatch, baseballs, and bagels. She mentioned that her significant other is a “jock” and said she “wears many hats” (as represented by a tornado of books, workout equipment, microphones, and bowls of food). The last time the Seashell performed, we saw a hot dog, a chameleon, a witch’s broom, a liberty bell, and a cowboy hat, and it was implied that she is a former child star.
Judges’ guesses: Ashlee Simpson, Jenny Slate, Hilary or Haylie Duff.
My guess: I originally guessed Tia or Tamera Mowry; now I'm narrowing that guess down to Tamera, who is married to former professional baseball player Adam Housley.
The Orca, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
This “wild card” character bumrushed the show and gave the best marine-life musical performance since Left Shark stole Katy Perry’s thunder at Super Bowl XLIX. The judges were rocking out, even jumping on top of their desks and pumping their fists, to Twisted Sister’s anti-authority anthem. And that rawker scream at the end was so high, it almost sounded like a dolphin whistle. “You can’t fake that kind of voice,” declared Robin. “That was one of my favorite performances of any season!”
Clues: The Orca, who is “always the biggest fish in every scene” and catches the “biggest waves,” was depicted running a pizza parlor (with the address 1313 Melville Court) and serving lemon, orange, and pumpkin pizza (yuck) for either $9 or $4. Pizza apparently “shaped his life,” as the Orca used to hide his VHS audition tapes in the pizza boxes he delivered to high-powered showbiz executives. And that tactic worked — which was a good thing, because at that point he was 24 and about to be a “punchline,” and his dad had given him a deadline that he had to make it by age 25. We also saw a hawk, a bowl of hard candy, and a clock set to 2:59.
Judges’ guesses: Dave Grohl, Laird Hamilton, Gordon Ramsey, Billy Corgan, Kevin Bacon.
My guesses: This might be a different Foo Fighter, Taylor Hawkins — who is a great rock ‘n’ roll screamer in his side bands Chevy Metal and the Coattail Riders; once said that he’d be “delivering pizzas” for a living if Alanis Morissette hadn’t given him his big break two decades ago; grew up in Orange County (specifically the surfside Laguna Beach, which is in the 949 area code); and has a hawk tattoo. It also could be OC rocker Mark McGrath, who looks like Ethan Hawke and sounds like the Orca. (The candy could be a reference to Mark's band, Sugar Ray, and the "2:59" could be a military-clock reference to Sugar Ray's album 14:59.) Or... it could be Rami Malek, who won an Academy Award playing a rock star and (HERE'S THE BIG CLUE) used to tape his headshots and résumés to pizza boxes! It seems like a weird career move to go from portraying Freddie Mercury to portraying an inflatable PVC whale, but hey, at least Rami is versatile, if this is him. And if it is him, then maybe Rami will soon have a Golden Mask trophy to put on his mantel next to his Oscar statuette.
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