Who else gets the boot in this first part of an epic two-night premiere?
Finally back in the studio with an actual live audience -- no more crappy CGI -- “The Masked Singer” kicked off its sixth season with a surprise double elimination!
The costuming is getting better and better with each passing year, though we have to say that Mother Nature is the stuff of nightmares. She seems sweet enough, but we already know we’re going to open our eyes to see that dead, wooden face staring down at us ready to suck our souls out.
Her royal horror-ness was joined in this first night of a two-night premiere by the diva-tastic Skunk, an energetic Bull, a sensual Puffer Fish and the tallest contestant we’ve ever seen … the Octopus.
Between all of this season’s 16 contestants -- we’ve so many more to meet -- we learned that they’ve picked up 85 Grammy nominations, 32 marriages, 20 divorces, multiple Oscar nominations, made out with everyone from Sean Penn to Will Smith to our own Jenny McCarthy!
The biggest surprise of the night, though, came when Nick Cannon revealed that after five performances, the season was kicking off with a double elimination! Five will become three, but really it’s 16 becoming 14, so we’re all gonna be okay.
But it also means absolutely zero time to impress the panel and studio audience. That said, by the end of the night, we were feeling pretty confident in who we thought should go home. We’ve been disappointed before, but they wouldn’t let us down already, would they? Not in the first episode?!
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.
Skunk brought a confident and sensual vocal, a little raspy and lower in the register, making us think this a seasoned singer in her middle years or beyond. She definitely sings like someone who’s been on stages for a long time making this her living, but maybe doesn’t have the range she once did. A consummate professional, though, even if she did so with very little actual movement.
Guesses: Skunk is diva-licious, even had a D-vase in her premiere package. She said she chose the skunk as she could relate to that duality, the “yin and yang of it all,” suggesting there are perhaps two sides to her. Either an over-the-top public persona, or maybe two facets that have both lived in the public eye.
There was a newspaper headline reading that the Golden Ear Winner (Jenny) had lost her mind, making us wonder if Jenny maybe guessed her in a previous season and Skunk was not flattered by the comparison.
We also saw a ticket to Seoul, South Korea, a pink purse, lots of diamonds and she told us that she’d learned you don’t have to react when provoked (maybe that duality of personality as maybe she used to react) and she’d recently taken a break (from her career?) for family.
She told Nick she did the show to take a big leap and do something she hadn’t in a long time, and that’s what we heard in her vocals. This sounds like someone who used to maybe sing professionally all the time but hasn’t now for a while.
Robin was tossing out names like Gloria Gaynor and Faith Evans, while Ken rattled off a bunch of divas this isn’t like Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu and no it does not sound exactly like Anita Baker. Jenny’s Mary J. Blige wasn’t much better, because MJB still got it (no offense, Skunk) vocally as strong as she ever did. We’re not feeling Sade, either, which means the panel is completely stumped.
The internet, though, thinks Robin might be on to something, with Faith Evans quickly rising to their top pick (Brady being Fox on this show and "family" helped tie it together). Another popular guess was Kelis, though we didn't hear any real arguments behind it other than some thought it sounded like her.
Octopus had a lot of gravel in his voice, and was clearly having fun out there, but this is not a guy who was ever a professional singer. We’re not even sure he wasn’t putting on this voice to try and hide his real one. He wasn’t comfortable moving around the stage, and didn’t try to do a lot of things, but he was confident in his voice, and stayed on pitch -- so it was better than expected overall.
Guesses: With a story that reminded us of Howard Stern’s path a bit (but we’re pretty sure it’s not him), Octopus is a very tall man who found success at a young age. He seems to think he’s known for his smile and feels lucky that he was able to make a comeback.
He said he wasn’t taken seriously and people wanted him out. And they got their way, as he fell, and it wasn’t until he was able to let go of his ego that he got the chance to rise again. We saw blocks with A, B, and C on them (Big Bird, is that you?) and a gold phone.
He likes the supernatural (or the show “Supernatural”), can be overly defensive, eight is a lucky number and he feels like a lucky guy at this point. Did we mention that this dude is huge; he even referenced it in his package. His legs go on and on!
He spoke with a tremulous high-pitched voice that was definitely a put-on, saying he chose to do the show because it’s his mom’s favorite. Jenny went the most obvious route, wondering if this could be Dennis Rodman.
But Ken knows “exactly who this is,” but he doesn’t know. Ken’s actual guess was Dwight Howard, but Nicole wondered if it might not be “one of the great vocalists of our time,” Shaquille O’Neal. Jenny had to point out that Shaq is rocking a bit of a super-sized dad bod these days.
That left Dwight Howard, who’s larger than life personality definitely fits the on-stage antics of the Octopus, as Twitter’s most prominent guess, too. Could Ken get one right? Does he actually know exactly who this was?
Other names thrown about included Dennis Rodman, but also J.B. Smoove -- he’s got the height and definitely gets wacky out there. It’s not a bad guess, though we don’t think he’d sound like that singing.
Puffer Fish came out with a whole lot of surprises, including two different rap vocals and a very sultry, whispery singing voice that brought every part of Doja Cat’s “Say So” to life. We could feel that she was in command of the stage before she broke into the rap, but at that point it was clear she’s a stage performer. She really brought a great energy to the stage, and a very cool sound.
Guesses: We’re not sure what she meant by saying she had a different voice that wasn’t well-received, leading even to ridicule, as we weren’t hearing that. Is this Iggy Azalea trying to shut down her haters? That would fit the boomerang image but we think she’s even curvier.
She said she’d always wanted to blend in coming up, but wasn’t able to. Instead, she was the kid blowing up the science lab. She said she learned how to stand up for herself, and credits that for her success. She also said she’s stood out her whole life.
Another image from her package, that saw her beamed up to an apparent spaceship before accidentally blowing up a volcano, was an electric guitar with GUIT ARRA written on it. Another clue was the fact that she went for Nick’s backside, and he said he knows exactly who it is.
She said she chose Puffer Fish because she is queen of the sea, and did so with a rasp in her voice even through the modulator … so maybe it’s her speaking voice that had people gritting their teeth, like Fran Drescher back in the day.
Nicole wandered through Minnie Ripperton and Maya Rudolph to find the petite Paula Abdul in the frame. Paula was not taken seriously as a vocalist, but can she rap like that? Ken’s terrible guess was Issa Rae, who is not as petite as Puffer Fish, but that didn’t stop him. “Nick is 4’6”” he explained, “And Issa feels very secure standing next to him.”
Robin tossed out Jessica Alba, who’s enjoyed dancing with her kids on TikTok, but no one’s ever talked about her voice. The internet wasn’t feeling super confident, either, with nods to Toni Braxton (minor thoughts about Tamar), Kylie Minogue
Chile, I don't even know why Toni THEE Braxton would even come on #themaskedsinger dressed like a Puffer Fish thinking we weren't going to immediately recognize that tone and sensuality. pic.twitter.com/9Y8TojJ5uj
Mother Nature came out with a ton of swagger and attitude on that stage, but this was a karaoke performance at best. This is definitely not what she does. She’s a confident woman, but more confident walking with presence than she is moving around a stage and singing. And we don’t even know what to say about the multi-mallet game of Whac-A-Mole with background dancers -- is that a clue?
Guesses: Perhaps the biggest clue for this strong woman, who we’d guess is in her middle years, is that she’s not a mother herself. But she is patriotic, she likes flowers and she changes with the seasons.
She had to come to terms with not having kids of her own, but she’s protective of the family she already had -- which somehow relates to a picture of Wayne Brady (is she from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”). We also saw a giant Lincoln penny and a sparkler while she talked about how protective she is of those she considers family.
Once again, based on the hug she gave him, Nick said, “When someone get up on you, you gotta know who it is.” That got a laugh out of Mother Nature, who asked Ken if he was ready to call her Mommy. She said she chose this persona because Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with, beautiful and scary.
Ken was convinced it was a comedian, thinning Aisha Tyler but is thinking more the “She Ready” vibe. Tiffany Haddish isn’t a bad guess, if we’re being honest, so how did Ken come up with it? Nicole also considered it could be Chelsea Handler, but Jenny wasn’t feeling that.
Robin was thinking the whole vibe could be Tracee Ellis Ross, another solid guess. “And just on principal, she would come out singing her mom’s song,” he concluded, before Mother Nature sashayed away. She’s easily the most fun personality so far on the show.
The internet is thinking, based in part on the Wayne Brady clue, that it’s Vivica A. Fox, though we also saw guesses for Kim Fields and even the panel’s Haddish and Ross guesses.
Bull was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, as his intro package did not prepare us for the raw power and quality of his vocals. He commanded this song from the first note and had us more excited than anyone else tonight -- and yet we’re still thinking he’s not a professional singer. His stage moves are rudimentary, but his vocals are stellar, so he’s a very good amateur if he’s not.
Guesses: Cooperstown featured heavily in his promo, which always makes you think of baseball. He said he came from a small town and traveled the world seeking to be the greatest of all time. But every door was closed to him, so after too many nos, he became his own boss.
From there, he got noticed by both Hollywood and Forbes (is this someone from “Shark Tank”?). Visually, we saw a portrait of him looking like Washington crossing the Delaware, though that could be the matador costume. He also featured a stuffed lion on the beach after he landed.
Bull revealed that he’s actually shy about singing, which was a shocker for Ken who was sure this was a “superstar.” With that talent, though, hopefully this journey will give him the confidence he should have in his abilities.
Jenny saw the Astronaut and wasn’t thinking former contestant Hunter Hayes, but rather Lance Bass -- and his space dreams -- taking her to boy bander Brian Littrell. But could any of those boy band boys really be shy about singing? How would that even work? Nicole thinks she knows who it is, but decided not to share so no one would steal it -- but isn’t that her job?! NICOLE?!? What is you doing?!
Robin went on overall quality of performance to find Sisqó while Ken went over the deep end again to come up with the massive physique of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. We don’t care how big Nick is, Dwayne would look much more massive than that, though it would be awesome to find out he could sing that well.
The internet, when they weren’t tossing around horrible Jeong guesses like Kevin Hart, seemed to rally strongest around Todrick Hall as the likeliest to be under the horns. Another big guess, that we’d be surprised to see on this show, is Donald Glover (though we dig the lion-Simba connection they found).
Puffer Fish and The Bull brought the most exciting and surprising performances to the stage, while Skunk established herself as a diva and likely a legendary singer. We’re not ready to say goodbye to any of them. That leaves Octopus and Mother Nature out of these five.
If it weren’t a double, we’d love to see Octopus come back -- and we could even see voters keeping him over Skunk because he was much more charismatic on stage, but Mother Nature was the clear weakest link for us. But would she go home first?
No, instead it was Octopus (so maybe she’s next). Was he really the lowest vote-getter? That doesn’t seem right. But as sad as it is to see him hit the road, we are definitely intrigued to find out who is under the tallest mask we’ve ever seen on this show.
Robin Thicke: first impression (Joel Embiid), final guess (Joel Embiid)
Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Dennis Rodman), final guess (Dennis Rodman)
Ken Jeong: first impression (Dwight Howard), final guess (Dwight Howard)
Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Shaquille O’Neal), final guess (Shaquille O’Neal)
For the first time that we can remember, the panel all stuck with their original guesses, and none of them were too bad. Robin explained that Joel had gotten some grief for not taking himself seriously enough on the basketball court, so he regrouped and tried harder. So was it him?
Turns out, our resident NBA expert was right on the money, with Dwight Howard teasing and mocking him throughout the episode before being revealed as the man beneath the tentacles.
With Dwight Howard’s Octopus already unmasked and out of the competition -- and what a hoot he was even unmasked -- we were ready to say goodbye to Mother Nature. There is no way that she could outlast the others in this competition, is there?
“This is so anti-environment,” Robin joked after Nick revealed that it was Mother Nature while the panel pretended to be shocked and devastated. Like they really wanted her to outlast any of the other three? Come on, now!
Robin Thicke: first impression (Tracee Ellis Ross), final guess (Tracee Ellis Ross)
Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Tiffany Haddish), final guess (Tiffany Haddish)
Ken Jeong: first impression (Tiffany Haddish), final guess (Tiffany Haddish)
Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Chelsea Handler), final guess (Tracee Ellis Ross)
In a totally rude and unnecessary move, the producers decided to try and ensure fans would tune in to Thursday night’s premiere continuation by holding off on this reveal until then. So … we’ve no idea who is under this mask, though we’re digging both of these guesses on the surface.
And another shocking development for this two-night premiere of “The Masked Singer” will see tonight’s three advancing contestants perform again tomorrow, squaring off against two new Wild Card contenders. So fans of any of them are in for a treat -- and we have to admit, we’re excited to see Puffer Fish and The Bull again (sorry, Skunk, it just didn’t grab us as much).
“The Masked Singer” two-night Season 6 premiere continues Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.