Ahead of next week's Super 8 and with all contestants revealed, there are officially only three women in the competition this season, down again from a paltry five-and-a-half last season -- what's happening with casting?
Just one step away from the Super Eight on “The Masked Singer” and they decided there was still time to lob one final Wild Card contestant at us -- at least it wasn’t Nick Cannon.
Nick returned to the show, and it really did change the energy of the room. Niecy Nash did a great job, but the history the panel shares with Nick on this journey has created a comfort and fun back-and-forth that she just wasn’t able to replicate in five short episodes.
We will spoil that the latest Wild Card is another male, because it’s been interesting that of this season’s 14 contenders there have only been three women, Caitlyn Jenner (as the Phoenix) and the still-competing Black Swan and Seashell.
Has it been that difficult to find women interested in doing this show? We can understand a slight disparity one way or the other, but this goes way beyond that. And it’s certainly the least number of women we’ve seen yet.
It appears to be a growing, and alarming, trend. The ladies made up half of Season 1’s 12 contestants and Season 2’s 16 contestants, 8 of Season 3’s 18 contestants, and only 5.5 of Season 4’s 16 contestants (Lisa Hartman Black competed with husband Clint Black as Snow Owls).
The overall number of contestants is down again this season, despite the show still being a big success, and the number of women is dropping glaringly low. Is casting getting more and more difficult as the seasons carry on, both overall and with finding women interested in doing this?
At least there’s no denying the talent among the group they’ve assembled this season. At this point, there are absolutely no weak links among the remaining contestants -- and that includes this week’s Wild Card. It’s going to be a tough road from here to winning that trophy.
Let’s jump right in with this week’s masks. 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.
Russian Doll came out again as a performing trio, but they had the biggest doll on the stage as a prop. Those harmonies are so sweet, this is clearly a trio of artists who’ve been singing together for a long time. And the way they arranged this song to suit their different tones created such a magical sound quality. These are definitely pros and fantastic singers.
Guesses: The guys shared their story of touring all the way to perform at places like softball fields, pizza parlors and parking lots to blowing off the roof of the White House, so clearly their success hit the stratosphere at one point in their careers.
We also saw an image of a snow owl, a bowl of what might have been ice cream or orange sherbet (they never got close to it) outside the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln featured as well with one of the background “agents” in his beard and hat.
This week’s bonus clue came in the form of a t-shirt. This one had “What goes around…” on the front and “Comes around” on the back. They suggested that this group had been together a long time, but only recently reunited (possibly for this show).
Nicole wondered if the harmonies could be pointing to Pentatonix, just dismissing the fact there are only three performers on stage by saying, “There could be a couple in the back,” with a wave.
Ken wondered if perhaps this was the Jonas Brothers, but Jenny put on giant golden ears to another boy band, 98 Degrees. She then said that Uranus is tilted at 98 degrees, matching an earlier clue that showed planets -- Nicole was done at this point, saying she was starting to sund like Ken.
Twitter isn’t mad at the Jonas Brothers guess, and certainly Nick and Joe can carry that same sort of falsetto, deep-throated shared performance, and a few are still thinning Rascal Flatts alongside some other outlandish guesses, but not enough of them to take away from the general consensus that this is totally Hanson.
They’re also totally cracking up at Jenny’s 98 Degrees guess, because they’re just as positive that Nick Lachey is Piglet and he’s pretty unlikely to be competing twice -- or is this the other three members? That would qualify as a game-changer, right?
Robopine was definitely holding back the full quality of his vocal ability, perhaps for fear it would be too recognizable. But he still had a lovely tone on this, with a rich, slow vibrato that caressed the lyrics and brought a sultry smoothness to the performance. Then he dropped the same with some killer dance moves that were cool and sexy and almost too much.
Guesses: With an “Indiana Jones” themed video, Robopine shared that he’s been on a quest for gold already (awards?), showing us a trophy and a bejeweled cup with a one dollar bill in it later. We saw the number 6 on one column, and the letters “MM” knocked over to spell “MW.”
A referee called him out for traveling at one point, with “R 00” on his nametag. His t-shirt had “AKA” on it, which Jenny misidentified as “Otherwise known as.” So she’s definitely settling into the Ken role nicely this week.
Janny paid up the $50 to again choose Jamie Foxx, with Nicole backing his play. Jenny insisted that it’s got to be right eventually. When Ken tried suggesting Tom Cruise, Robopine started lumbering right toward him … actually just taking a set because the guess was so terrible.
Robin actually liked Ken’s guess of Terrence Howard, “because I don’t want to pick Jamie Foxx.” Cluedl-doo then dropped in to offer four new clues by giving us what Robopine’s eyes see about the panelists.
Robin Thicke got “hopeless romantic,” Jenny “loves to talk,” Ken’s message was, “We’ve both changed,” and Nicole’s was “friends with benefit.”
The internet has been feeling pretty good about Jason Derulo on this one, but there’s a growing Tyrese movement this week. Could he have found the time to dress up like a robot porcupine while taking flight for the new “F9” movie? But wasn’t Robopine 60, or was that a mislead?
I know him very well so my guess for Robopine is Tyrese Gibson who playing Roman Pearce from the Fast and Furious franchise #TheMaskedSinger
Seashell continues to limit her stage presence to rocking her hips back and forth, so propping her on a clamshell this week helped keep that from standing out. She delivered a great vocal, though, with lots of attitude and subtle aggression. She’s definitely someone who knows what kind of an instrument she has, and how to use it, but we’re still not getting professional singer with that stage presence -- or lack thereof.
Guesses: This week’s clue package talked about the many shoes she’s worn as a trailblazer who still has people following in her footsteps. She also shared that she’s still recognized when out and about, which touches her. Visually, we saw a wedding cake and lots of shopping references.
She says it means a lot to her because opportunities to be seen weren’t there for people like her when she was coming up until she became that visibility for the next generation. She showed herself finding a superhero cape and talking about continuing to “blaze forward.”
She was also extremely familiar with Nick, making him feel he knew instantly who it was -- and the soulfulness of her performance surprised him. The t-shirt clue was “Motown,” which Seashell says brought her family together -- and that confused Nick.
Jenny threw out Mya and Ashanti, both on Motown Records, but Nicole thinks her deeper, richer tone could point to Keke Palmer. Robin did some weird mindmelt thing -- we seriously think his brain was melting as he was talking -- to connect seashells and superheroes to find Alicia Silverstone.
While the judges are making their guesses, Twitter is at this point tripling down on this being one half of the “Sister, Sister” duo, Tamera Mowry. Now they’re just playing the game of making the clues fit. That said, there are a few out there who aren’t so convinced … because what if it’s Tia?
Orca has a gentle rasp in his voice that was perfect for a Bon Jovi cover. He was a little ahead of the beat, and didn’t carry himself like a professional singer. But he is a very good singer who clearly has done a lot of it, and loves doing it. The performance had a lot of heart and sincerity in place of flash.
Guesses: His latest clue package was about how much he looked up to his father, who he lost shortly after his own child’s baptism. He also showed two little orcas (green and pink) at the end of the package, suggesting he has two young children left (revealed as ten-year-old twins).
There was an image of $3 as well as a whole lot of Swedish fish swimming around. The panel actually found it a very touching clue package, and we have to admit the narrative nature of tonight’s clues is a welcome -- and in this case moving -- evolution of the format that can at times feel chaotic.
Orca got a little emotional talking about his twins and his dad, who he dedicated the song to. His Nick Cannon shot was an absolute disaster, flying way off the set. Nicole snatched up it’s message of “Purrrr,” which Orca said was because he also likes to “purrr-ty.”
He also said there were three clues in the shirt. Ken took the three to either Fred Durst or Billie Joe Armstrong, who also performed a tribute to his father on a previous album. Jenny, though, thinks the hawk from previous package could refer to Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner.
Internet sleuths quickly picked up on the most direct clue Orca gave, which was that he had ten-year-old twins. That narrows it pretty much all the way down to one man, Mark McGrath. He probably wasn't supposed to be quite that direct with his clues.
Yeti offered full choreography through his entire routine, which was impressive in its delivery through the costume. He cut a few of his lines short during this, as if the movement was perhaps cutting his breaths a little short during the verses. But he soared on the chorus with a genuine ‘90s/'00s R&B sound (and moves, if we're being totally honest). It’s definitely the sound of a true singer and performer.
Guesses: Our first clues said that he only comes out of hiding for a mammoth reason, so is he a notoriously private or reclusive person? He was carrying a wood pile and talked about the warrior women who showed him how to be a gentleman.
There was a breakfast (toast sandwich with berries), and a cutout heart, as well as three cupcakes. His t-shirt clue -- another long shot -- was “Aphrodite.” “Yeti is all about love, love, love.”
Jenny immediately was thinking of Ray J and “For the Love of Ray J,” with the cupcakes and candles for his hit, “One Wish.” But Jenny was feeling Justin Bieber for the firewood referencing “Fire” and desserts that are “Yummy.”
Ken went way out into the woods with the firewood to Englewoed and Taran Killam for the night’s most ridiculous guess.
Almost immediately, the Twittersphere descended en masse to share that they are absolutely positive they know this voice and it’s absolutely definitely gotta be Omarion. Unless, of course, it’s not. There were some other stray guesses, including Ralph Trasvant, Marques Houston and Mario, but there is definitely a building consensus.
Some did take the time to make fun of Jenny’s terrible guess that Justin Bieber would actually appear on this show, which we feel is a worthy use of their time. And, as they quickly pointed out, it doesn’t even sound like him.
Russian Doll again stole the night, but there were some solid performances also from Seashell and Yeti. We felt like Robopine was holding back, which actually hindered his rankings among a sea of contenders where everyone is good.
Orca and Seashell both come across like singers who aren’t professionals, but Seashell really had a strong vocal this week in what was probably her best outing yet. Orca missed the rhythm a bit and came across like a strong fan of singing, but not someone who really does this.
The rest of them seem to take singing seriously, while Orca looks like he just has a lot of fun with it. For that, and for the fact his was the only performance that had amateurish flaws in the vocals at all, we’d have to pick him to go.
Thankfully, this week the panel and voting audience again took the reins of the show and made the decision of who stays and goes. As silly as it is, we still like to pretend that this madness has some structure and meaning as a singing competition show.
Oh, and the good news is that the voting body got this one absolutely right, sending Orca back to the ocean … sans mask. His was a beautifully touching performance, but it wasn’t quite up to the professional standards of his fellow competitors.
Robin Thicke: first impression (Billie Joe Armstrong), final guess (Billie Joe Armstrong)
Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Dave Grohl), final guess (Kelly Slater)
Ken Jeong: first impression (Jon Bon Jovi), final guess (Billie Joe Armstrong)
Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Dave Grohl), final guess (Dave Grohl)
Honestly, none of the panel’s guesses felt right to us based on the vocals alone. We were still kind of vibing on Kevin Bacon as someone who’s a huge fan of music -- he has his own band -- but doesn’t do it professionally with the voice.
But that Twitter groundswell for Mark McGrath and that very, very, very specific clue he gave was giving us Season 1 this-is-too-easy-to-play-from-home vibes. At the same time, we'd just called him not a professional singer, so either we're about to have egg on our face, or Twitter is.
Of course it was us, and of course it was Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath. That said, he was way more likely to do this show than any of their guesses, or ours, so this makes sense. If there's someone who loves the camera more than Mark McGrath -- they probably invented the camera.
“The Masked Singer” continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.