"One of the most recognizable voices of our generation" is unmasked, and the panel wasn't even close -- plus, Pepper blows everyone away with an incredible debut performance!
Even though we’ve only spent one episode with Group B, it was back to Group A for a House Party-themed “The Masked Singer.” We also got the addition of yet another Wild Card, this one with an incredible voice.
Pepper hit the stage to compete alongside fan-favorite Hamster, powerhouse diva Skunk, showman Bull and the living nightmare that is Baby. We’re not trying to pick on this one costume after six seasons of this nonsense, but -- okay, we are trying to pick on it.
We’re not sure if it’s the giant gaping smile, those dead eyes or the very detailed knuckles on hands big enough to just reach up and cover Nick Cannon’s face, smothering him to death as the panel shouts out terrible guesses as to, “Who’s killing Nick? Who murders like that?”
The terrible guesses were flying fast and furious tonight, but they definitely saved the best of the worst for last. Tonight’s eliminated celebrity may just have the worst first impression guesses we’ve ever seen since this feature was added -- and their final guesses weren’t much better.
Thank goodness the masks themselves came through, with some incredible performance this week, even beyond Pepper’s showstopping debut. But there was also one of the most bizarre experiences we’ve ever had, as someone delivered one of the most somber and dramatic vocal interpretations of a cartoon show’s theme song than has possibly ever done.
Just when we thought this show couldn’t get any weirder.
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.
Bull came out like a -- well, bull, taking over the stage with incredible athleticism (he knows how to move in that costume) and killer vocals. He gave a very broad performance, making us think theatrical background. On top of that, he’s got that kind of Broadway bigness in his voice, projecting to the cheap seats and really showcasing an impressive range. This is a pro for sure.
Guesses: There was an interesting change in the clue package, we’re guessing between the time it was submitted to the subtitles company and the final audio edit. Considering everything is voiceover and masked, it’s easy enough to do.
In the clue package, Bull talked about how this was an opportunity to sing in solidarity and support for Britney Spears -- but the subtitle talk instead about how he wanted to perform this song once before, but was shut down at the last minute. Here, though, he could finally do it.
That’s not to say this wasn’t a tribute to Britney (beyond just being her song). He dropped a “Free Britney!” in the middle of this “Circus,” and really brought the party, which is what the night and his clue package is all about.
Bull said he is notorious for his parties, with great music and dancing. As a kid, though he was a bit of a wallflower -- now, he’s the life of the party. Visual elements included a scooter, hospital scrubs with a stethoscope, and a picture of Carnegie Hall.
“I got you a shirt, Nick,” Bull quipped when his party favor clue was brought out. In seriousness, he said he usually focuses what’s on the inside, but today the wrapping is what he’s showing off. That got Jenny thinking of rappers like Trey Songs or multi-talented artists who can also rap like Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino.
Robin, instead, too Carnegie to Broadway and since “Hamilton” is the only musical anyone knows anymore -- we’re all trying to temporarily forget about “Dear Evan Hansen” and “CATS,” thank you very much -- he threw out Anthony Ramos, which put Leslie Odom Jr. in Nicole’s brain.
When they weren't loving his #FreeBritney support, Twitter was just doubling and tripling down on their certainty that this is Todrick Hall. Honestly, it's one of those things where the more you hear a name, the more you hear it in the voice, so we're definitely buying this theory.
Hamster once again brought his Orbison-esque impression to a Queen song, indicating he knows how to have fun and can carry a tune, but he’s not singing in his own voice. It was on pitch for the most part, and a fun performance, but he’s definitely just doing this for a lark and by no means a professional singer.
Guesses: Interestingly, our own “Jersey Shore” joke/guess fit the new clues this week, where Hamster talked about how he and his friends became famous overnight together in their 20s and are still friends today.
He also said he lived in a huge city then, and what a kick they’re going to get out of seeing him do this. We also saw a picture of a basset hound, which Ken thought was just adorable -- not the point, Ken! … but also not wrong.
Hamster’s party favor was a “Party Animal” battling helmet with two water bottles attached to it. “I like to stay hydrated with my friends at the party,” he hinted. So … is that the Jersey Shore?
Ken actually took the “got famous with his friends” clue and applied it to the cast of “SNL.” Certainly many of them become overnight sensations together. It also makes you think of other sketch shows that fit the clue even better like “Kids in the Hall,” “In Living Color,” “MADtv” or “The Whitest Kids U’ Know.”
That put Jenny onto Rob Schneider, which is a pretty solid guess as Rob has a pretty famous Elvis impression, and the vocal cadence and intonations being delivered here are certainly in that vein. Nicole, though, took basset hound to Angela Bassett to Paul Rudd, together on-screen in “Avengers: Endgame.” It’s a bit of a stretch.
The internet is starting to get a little more confident that maybe this really is Rob Schneider. He did feature in "The Waterboy," and that was a lot of water. It really does fit the clues very well, and Rob is definitely among those who became an overnight sensation on "SNL" with his friends.
Skunk once again took us to old school with some Gladys Knight and she was absolutely beautiful to do it. She admitted to being older, and she performs like a legend of the stage. A great vocal, she slowly built to wailing with what still felt like not all of her power. She is an effortless singer with a magical ability to transport you into her world. Robin was so impressed, he declared her his favorite vocalist across all seasons -- and we’ve seen some legends.
Guesses: With another incredible vocal performance under her belt, Skunk talked about how she used to be the “hostess with the mostest,” back in the day. As she’s gotten older, though, she’s learned the value in keeping your inner circle a little tighter and smaller.
During the clue package, we saw a box of cookies with “Family Size” written on them, and she blew a kiss to the Puffer Fish mask, who was revealed to be Toni Braxton during the two-night premiere in a huge injustice.
Her party favor was a huge boombox. “Some people say, ‘Turn down for what?’ she said, hitting play and blasting the African-American spiritual anthem, “Down by the Riverside.” “I say, ‘Turn it up so the whole empire can hear what you’re saying.’”
If we’re considering the favorite guess of Twitter, which has been Faith Evans, then there are multiple connections between her and Braxton. But there’s also a tribute to Gladys Knight the two performed together during the 2005 BET Awards, which even ties in Skunk’s song this week.
Ken, though, immediately jumped to Taraji P. Henson following the cookies from the clue package with her use of the word empire. Jenny, though, thought maybe it was Queen Latifah, but Nicole kept it in the family, going ahead and guessing Tamar Braxton -- which would be a very close connection to Toni.
But the internet is still absolutely positive that this is Faith Evans. She's got the tools to do exactly what we're seeing. She's older, but not Gladysy Knight-era older, making this feel more and more right.
Do they keep guessing wrong solely for the cameras??!! Because that skunk is clearly Faith Evans!! They kept getting Kandi and Gladys Knight wrong too. I’m side eyeing the judges at this point… #TheMaskedSingerpic.twitter.com/22Ybv8jcrf
Baby definitely gave us a first, performing “The Flintstones” theme song. It was even more absurd than this show is usually known for. He was giving those overly dramatic vocals akin to the original animated “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” with the rolling R’s and everything. It was charming and creepy and also very stupid. But he was surprisingly talented at singing in this way, even having a vibrato on the bigger notes. “Baby, the nightmare musical,” Nicole said, and it’s pretty apt.
Guesses: We’re not sure if anything is weirder than that performance, except for how terrifyingly creepy this costume is in general. But we know he understands kids, as he’s got some of his own, talking about taking pics of them bathing in the sink of his one-time party bus.
In fact, he said his best house party ever was on the road in that bus. We saw him looking through a photo album that had a tooth on the cover, which had Jenny thinking The Rock because he was in “Tooth Fairy.” It’s that easy?
When Baby’s party favors came out, it was a cooler and a grill. “I may just be a baby, but I’m still the star of the tailgate. Even if there is a little grease on that grill.” Jenny took the grease reference to John Travolta, who starred with a talking baby in “Look Who’s Talking?”
“Yes, that’s definitely John Travolta,” Robin laughed. But she was thinking maybe it was Bruce Willis. Robin, though, thought Rod Stewart or Keith Richards maybe, because of the bus reference. Gordon Ramsay, per Ken, has a giant head like a baby, with Nicole helpfully adding that he throws a lot of tantrums in the kitchen. So, the horrible guesses are on track this season.
Michael Strahan showed up in a video of support for Baby, but does that mean he knows who it is, and even maybe has a close relationship with him, or was this just more “Masked Singer” random nonsense. Is anything on this show truly random?
We're not even sure if America cares who this is anymore. They are done with him after this bonkers performance. Honestly, we're kind of hoping it's him -- at the same time, we're sickly curious what else he might possibly do.
After this, we're also pretty sure it's a comedian or a huge goofball. But we've no idea, either. One Twitter user guessed that maybe Baby was their dad. Honestly, that's as good a guess as any.
Pepper definitely brought the heat. It’s hard to emote effectively to a live audience, much less through a television, much less through a ridiculous costume. So this was an incredible performance by Pepper, who had us feeling all the ache in her heart through this song. It’s a powerfully beautiful song, but she put her own stamp on it with a tender and powerful vocal that left us a bit shooketh, if we’re being honest.
Guesses: What’s remarkable after that powerful performance is that we kind of think this is not a huge singing star. Instead, her clues all hinted at a TikTok star trying to grab as much fame as she can while she’s in the public consciousness.
She said that she went viral this past year, while showing a Tic-Tac-Toe board filled with X’s and O’s, and that others then added their own flavor to what she did. So did she create a viral TikTok dance? We saw the words “Keep Dreaming,” as well, before we saw her standing on a “Chiliwood” variant of the Hollywood sign, so this really appears to be someone hoping to achieve a more mainstream success.
Pepper’s party favor was a pair of old-school roller skates. She then said, “You bring roller skates to a party because then you don’t need a drivers licence.” Is this shade at Olivia Rodrigo … or is this Olivia Rodrigo? So is this a fellow “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” star?
Ken wondered if perhaps the Tic-Tac-Toe and TikTok references might actually be pointing to Kesha, who showcased the depth and breadth of her pipes with her epic comeback anthem, “Praying.”
Nicole decided to tie things together, taking Chiliwood to childhood star Hailee Steinfeld, because sometimes her mind makes leaps and we dare not follow for fear of our own.
Twitter was gushing all over that performance, and they were quickly narrowing down their guess to one major voice that isn't quite as well known on this side of the pond. Natasha Bedingfield made major inroads on the U.S. charts with "Unwritten" and again with "Pocketful of Sunshine." She's got the pipes to pull off this performance. So did she?
A few others who latched onto the TikTok of it all were thinking names like Addison Rae
#TheMaskedSinger money on the pepper being Addison Rae, cause the only clues were tiktok, being famous, and Hollywood ( idk she did a movie ),, but she doesn’t seem to be the singer type but she’s the only one to come to mind
We were ready to declare ourselves ready to be done with Baby because we could do without the nightmares, and then he performed that wacky “Flintstones” theme song, and we think we’re ready to double down.
Obviously, Pepper is among the best this season has to offer, but so are Bull and Skunk. That only leaves Hamster and Baby. Neither are particularly stellar as performers, but at least Hamster is a genuine good time, and at least he’s tackling songs that are normal.
That said, maybe it’s us. Should we be surprised that Baby is singing a cartoon theme song? It’s better than a true children’s song like “Wheels on the Bus” or something.
As we saw with Puffer Fish two weeks ago, though, the audience sometimes doesn’t really care about talent as much as overall entertainment. And the legendary artists in seasons past didn’t go as far as they should have. Is that bad news for Skunk?
Thankfully, this audience is apparently also seeking peaceful dreams, as they pulled the binky on the Baby. We couldn’t be happier, as this is what we wanted to see happen -- for multiple reasons.
Robin Thicke: first impression (Chuck Norris), final guess (Chuck Norris)
Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Kurt Russell), final guess (Bruce Willis)
Ken Jeong: first impression (Hugh Jackman), final guess (Gordon Ramsay)
Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Michael Caine), final guess (James Corden)
Only Jenny seemed to have any confidence at this point, as every other guess was absolutely ridiculous. And we’re including both “First Impression” and final guesses from the panel. Chuck Norris? Michael Caine?! But honestly, Bruce Willis isn’t a terrible guess.
It wasn’t even remotely close, though, as instead it was Larry the Cable Guy. We do kind of love that they were close without being close, as the tooth was a reference to Larry starring in the sequel, “Tooth Fairy 2.”
When Jenny came up with a bad ‘80s wig for her Bruce Willis guess, Larry said he was sure she’d figured him out as she was totally looking like a classic trailer park beauty. Even better, they starred in a film together, and she knew his family grew up on a tour bus and she still didn’t get it.
“The Masked Singer” continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.