There was no way this unmasking was going to be anything but a heartbreaker -- Popcorn, Snow Owls and The Sun have all been amazing with every performance so far.
We came into these Group A finals on “The Masked Singer” preparing to have our hearts broken and we were not disappointed. How could we say goodbye to anyone from Popcorn, Snow Owls or The Sun?
All three have been consistently incredible, powerful and moving throughout the season, to the point we kind of hated these past two weeks with Group C because we found ourselves missing some of those incredible Group A and B performers.
But at least we knew that we were going to get one (or two) more incredible performances before one of our favorites had to go.
That’s right, this round marks the return of the Smackdown, with the two acts receiving the least votes facing off head-to-head in a second round of singing. While it might be stress-inducing for them, it’s a treat for us, as more is definitely better when it comes to all three (well, technically four) of these singers.
On top of that, with a little extra time to fill this week, the Group A finalists hit the stage together for a rousing performance of P!nk’s “Raise Your Glass.” What makes it even more fun is that everyone left in this group can really sing, so it was one of the strongest group numbers we’ve seen yet.
What makes it much less fun is that everyone left in this group can really sing and wanted to bend the rules and save them all. And they definitely did not disappoint as there was not a weak performance all night long.
Now, let’s jump into this week’s batch of contestants, complete with clue packages and performances. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking, we're going to make you power through the terrible (and occasionally good) guesses made by our illustrious panel of Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger first. We do this because we love ... to torture you.
The Sun performed with digital centaurs and we still don’t get that at all, but she sounded absolutely incredible, with range and power for days. On top of that, she was really working that stage with a very sexy performance filled with vibrant energy and a real sense that she knows who she is as an artist.
Guesses: This week’s clue package featured what we’re guessing is either her husband, fiance or partner, who said that this is the longest she’s gone without performing, so this is a bona fide superstar performer. Her husband also revealed she has at least one certified gold single.
He also talked about them taking RV road trips during their Covid time off, and had imagery including a sand castle in Mexico, an Alaskan moose and four plastic cows, not to mention Angelic wind chimes.
Sun threw to him by saying, “Honey, take the wheel,” which only further fuels Carrie Underwood speculation. Certainly Carrie is a non-stop performer and a showstopper like this, but her voice is usually cleaner than Sun. Did she add some grit?
Ken thinks this might be fellow “Idol” alum Katharine McPhee, with David Foster the man behind the giant windshield sun blocker. Niecy, however, said husbands don’t talk about their wives like that … the man in the package is a boyfriend!
She took the Alaska clue from the package, and the youth of her knees, to think maybe it was Jewel, but Nicole instead considered the castle as a Disney reference to bring back an old favorite guess, Demi Lovato … though Niecy thought she was really stretching a bit to make the clues work.
Twitter is feeling Carrie Underwood, too, but are also theorizing it may be Christina Aguilera due to the RV clues, or possibly early favorite guess, LeAnn Rimes. Outside of Carrie, LeAnn is the hands-down favorite pick on the internet still.
The Sun on #TheMaskedSinger is Crazy good! How Do I Live is she doesn't win?? I honestly think it's Written In The Stars for her. I Probably Wouldn't Be This Way if she didn't hit all those notes perfectly but... idk I guess Life Goes On.. pic.twitter.com/fozCe6ZmWo
Snow Owls slowed it down this week to show a more tender side to their voices, and it was incredibly effective. Interestingly, he sounded a little nervous at the top, but she came in strong with a lot of vocal nuance. From this piece, it sounded like she might be the stronger singer of the two, but both of them are clearly adept at this style of entertainment; having to command the stage like that from inside an egg is no joke!
Guesses: This week’s clue package came from someone who said they’ve been resting on his branches for 20 years, giving a suggestion either of their career length or age (we’re guessing the former). His mega-clue was that they were “sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” which should put to rest any sibling theories.
There were also images of a space shuttle, a Roy Rogers (the drink), rocking horse and the Parthenon, which Jenny pointed out has a copy in Nashville. That’s because Niecy said she was getting real cowboy vibes, which could pinpoint a region of origin.
Niecy took that Nashville connect to Brad Paisley and wife Kimberly Williams (who starred in “Nashville”), but Robin thinks the “Empty Nest” blimp from the package suggests the kids are gone, doubling down on Amy Grant and Vince Gill.
Ken went on a wild ride, though, deciding the tree “famous friend” was Woody Harrelson from “Cheers,” meaning this was Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman -- perhaps hiding in an egg to hide their diminutive frames. Of course, “Cheers” debuted nearly 40 years ago now, so the timeframe doesn’t match his 20-year reference.
The internet is standing by an old guess, but still in that country couple wheelhouse, with Clint Black and Lisa Hartman. ‘90s country babies are taking to Twitter to say that his tone was just unmistakable tonight, though Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood grabbed a few nods as well.
It seems that even if there isn’t dead certainty on who it is, that ‘90s country vibe is unmistakably present.
As someone who grew up on 90’s country music I can tell you the snow owls are absolutely Clint Black and Lisa Hartman. Calling it now 😂#TheMaskedSinger
Been doing process of elimination for the Snow Owls - they're definitely a country music couple. Maybe Clint Black and Lisa Hartman? They don't sound like Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. #TheMaskedSinger
Popcorn has a very cool vibe, but didn’t sound super confident on this modern uptempo track, though she still sounded great. We get the feeling she’s a real pro, but maybe not in this style. She carries herself and moves like an older artist, but showed a whole different energy level on this one and, as Robin noted, took it up a register out of nowhere and never lost her pitch.
Guesses: “You know you are a diva when you point to the note before you hit it,” Niecy told her. “It’s going right there.” That puts her on the same page as the panel and most who’ve been guessing this is an old-school artist who knows her gifts, but maybe isn’t as relevant now as she once was.
New clues included a friend with a Russian nesting doll in her head who said Popcorn won’t sing at her karaoke parties. She also had bunny ears, what looked like coal and a sewing kit while revealing that she herself was familiar with the stage Popcorn is now performing on.
Is the friend a former contestant on this show? And if so, is it the U.S. version, or one of the other foreign spin-offs from the South Korean original? She also dropped another big clue, saying that the panel has guessed Popcorn’s identity at some point throughout the show’s run (though not necessarily even this season).
Jenny suddenly aligned with Twitter’s favorite guess based on that clue and the hair crimper we’ve seen, landing on Taylor Dayne, but Robin doesn’t think so and wonders who her famous friend would be -- Nicole points out Leah Remini was a guest panelist, so it’s technically the same stage.
Niecy, possibly fooled by the probably-fake accent, thinks all the New York clues are pointing at Cyndi Lauper. Ken threw out Anita Baker with some really bad clue connections, but that inspired Niecy to think it might be “The Princess and the Frog” star Anika Noni Rose.
If anything, though, Twitter felt validated that Jenny sided with them as they’ve been rock solid on Popcorn being Taylor Dayne since her first note on this show. And they are not here for any of these other guesses.
That said, it’s not a total slam dunk online, as there remains spattering of love for the likes of Cyndia Lauper, Gloria Gaynor and even Tina Turner. But those voices are largely being drowned out by the certainty that it is Taylor.
For the first time, Snow Owls seemed to fully betray their country music roots, or at least he did. There was definitely a ‘90s country twang coming out of that costume, more prominently than ever before, and with a tone that had us leaning more toward Clint Black than Vince Gill.
Look, we know guessing is not the point of this round, but it’s never sounded more clear who this was, so you take these moments when they come. But aside from that, they sounded once again lovely together, with effortless harmonies and tons of heart.
Popcorn then took on Bryan Adams and suddenly she sounded a little nervous even as she put her signature rasp on the track, showing a softer side to her voice. Neither were quite as strong as they’ve been in the past -- jitters? nerves?anxiety? --, but Popcorn did a great job in the final notes of connecting with the lyric and audience..
After that Smackdown, it might be the tightest race in the competition. We knew it was going to be brutal coming into this Finals, but we didn’t expect it to be so difficult to choose here in the final moments.
For overall performances across the season, we’d have to go with Snow Owls, but that’s not to take away from Popcorn, who seems to be getting more and more comfortable with the ridiculousness of this whole show.
But what did the voting audience do? They felt those final notes from Popcorn, sending her into the Super Six, leaving poor Snow Owls to take it off (twice). We think the finals are weaker for their absence, but blame the distribution of groups more than anything they did. This group was just stacked with incredible talent!
As a final clue, the Snow Owls showed off their full costumes, which were stunning, by stepping out of their eggs. It also confirmed that they are not Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, Ken! It would also seem to rule out Vince Gill and Amy Grant.
Robin Thicke: first impression (Amy Grant & Vince Gill), final guess (Amy Grant & Vince Gill)
Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Maureen McCormick & Barry Williams), final guess (Amy Grant & Vince Gill)
Ken Jeong: first impression (Derek Hough & Julianne Hough), final guess (Danny DeVito & Rhea Perlman)
Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Donnie Osmond & Marie Osmond), final guess (Clint Black & Lisa Hartman)
Niecy Nash: final guess (Harry Hamlin & Lisa Rinna)
Nevertheless, Amy and Vince were Robin’s first and final guesses, with Jenny joining him there. Only Nicole shifted to the more likely Clint and Lisa, based both on their vocals in that Smackdown and their revealed physiques.
In the end, that’s exactly who it was, as Clint Black & Lisa Hartman stood revealed. And yes, Clint quickly put on his signature cowboy hat so we’d be sure to recognize him.
In the end, we totally agree with everyone that they should now take this opportunity to record and perform together, because their harmonies are truly stunning. We’re ready for the Black duets album we never knew we needed!
“The Masked Singer” continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.