Two legends emerge from underneath their masks in this Group 2 finale, though legendary for very different reasons.
Three masks enter, but only one would survive the night as the Group 2 winner and head on to face Firefly in “The Masked Singer” finale.
For us, though, this has been a two-way battle since we first met this latest batch of singers. Christie Brinkley and Penn & Teller were fun, but neither came anywhere close to the vocal prowess of either Miss Teddy or Ringmaster. And that goes for Armadillo, too.
The real question this week is which of the two divas are going to bring it the most on their final chance to impress before the finale and which one will secure the audience vote -- because we certainly know the audience doesn’t always get it right.
Next week, the show shifts to Group 3, so unless some fancy editing was done we should be seeing Rudy Giuliani. Will the show pull some clever trickery to replace him, or will they show it all -- including the moment Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong reportedly walked off the set in protest?
The show tends to try and keep it light and not get too political, despite booking polarizing figures like this, so it will certainly be interesting to see how they navigate that moment.
In the meantime, we’ve got to navigate through two rounds of competition and two unmaskings as a double-elimination reveals the Group 2 winner. Who did enough to move on, and which two famous faces get exposed? And how did guest panelist Leslie Jordan do with his picks?
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.
Along with the panel’s guesses, we'll be sharing some internet speculation, too, so if you don't want to be potentially spoiled (because they are very good at this), you may want to skip past the guesses sections.
(“Mercy,” Duffy)Miss Teddy is one of the all-time greats who’s enjoyed a decades-long career. She said as much, and then she proved it with the quality of her vocals. You could hear that experience, but also that incredible confidence and the grace with which she attacked the song. Those wails were absolutely everything, and pitch-perfect from the word … well, mercy.
Guesses: This Grammy-winner, who paraphrased Gloria Gaynor’s biggest hit last week, revealed that she only had one audition in her life, so clearly it was enough to launch her superstar career.
While talking about that, she flashed a picture of Eddie Murphy, which immediately makes you think of “Dreamgirls,” as Eddie was in the film adaptation. But this voice is more seasoned than the Jennifer Hudsons of the world, though it’s likely a Jennifer, as well.
Ken was wondering about all those gospel clues, speculating about Yolanda Adams -- though he couldn’t quite connect Eddie Murphy, so he made up a ridiculous story about Yolanda criticizing his comedy set by telling him, “You’re no Eddie Murphy.”
She also showed a picture of three Supreme Court justices, as well as a blue ribbon. Leslie got hung up on that Supremes imagery, thinking Cindy Birdsong, or perhaps Mavis Staples. Jenny, though, thinks that picture is about someone who performed with Diana Ross, so her guess was still Gloria Gaynor, though we think that one’s a bit on the nose.
All of this makes it more and more evident that the Twitter sleuths have once again cracked the code on this one and it’s more than likely Jennifer Holliday. Eddie Murphy ties it to “Dreamgirls,” which definitely connects to the Supremes.
It all fits, and Twitter has known that for a while. Well, most of Twitter. Even after the third iconic performance in a row, there are still a few outlier guesses like Patti LaBelle, Gloria Gaynor and Diana Ross' Supremes replacement Jean Terrell. These are people clearly ignoring this onslaught of clues, we think.
I’m convince that #MissTeddyMask is Gloria Gaynor with these clues: 1. Week 2: Grammy clue- Miss Teddy said that she was once afraid and petrified, which is a lyric from “I Will Survive”. 2. Week 1: Santa- A reference to Gloria Gaynor’s 2007 Xmas album. #TheMaskedSinger
(“Amazing Grace,“ [Traditional]) Armadillo gave us a growly “Yeah!” in the middle of singing this gospel standard, which was both very sweet and kind of funny. It was a charming and meaningful performance in tune with his professed faith and story this week, but certainly not the vocals of someone who is a singer for a living.
Guesses: His faith was just one of the big reveals this week, with the others including the Texas flag and him sharing that his life was on such a bad path at one point that he was incarcerated. But there were two clues that sealed the deal on his identity, as far as we’re concerned.
While talking about finding his faith and his passion to transform his life and move in a better direction, we saw a bus with the word “Fugitive” on it and then a dog leash. Those two things are painfully obvious allusions to Dog the Bounty Hunter, and the rest of the story lines up, too.
Plus, if anyone has ever seen Dog kick down a door then they know exactly what that looks like and how it lines up with all the kicking Armadillo has done in previous weeks. Jenny was with us in thinking that tonight’s clues were a bit of a “duh” moment and landed right there with Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Leslie, though, thinks that the “Fugitive” clue could be a little more direct and it’s the star of that film Tommy Lee Jones. Ken was ridiculous with his Al Pacino guess and justification, and made it very clear that even he doesn’t believe it.
“Those were some really guesses, right?” Nick said. “Except for Ken.” There were a few outliers online, but most people were just confirming their guesses, as we did, with tonight's obvious clues that this is Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Armadillo is definitely not a great singer but the feelings behind the song and what the words mean is what makes people emotional #TheMaskedSinger
(“I Will Always Love You,“ Dolly Parton [as performed by Whitney Houston]) Ringmaster just put it down with one of the best performances in the history of the show. She not only covered Whitney, she took it head-on with virtually no adjusting of the trajectory of the song, nailing all of its most iconic moments. Her voice was powerful and stunningly rich. This was a moment, and probably a guaranteed lock to win this round.
Guesses: Ringmaster packed her clue package with more clues than any we’ve seen so far this season, with images of a hula hoop and one of the men in black performing as a mime. She also juggled (poorly), but some of this was allusions to her learning and growing.
She talked about going to a prestigious school and being advised to become part of the “in crowd,” then suggesting that she did so by being part of a group and showing a sign welcoming her to Nashville. Unfortunately, she only got a “B-” grade for this effort, despite trying to make it work.
Instead, she took a shot on herself, where we saw an elf doll with the “No” circle/slash symbol on him. She got an “A++” for forging her own path. Earlier in the package, there was also prominent visual placement of the laughing/crying emoji.
When asked what it would mean to advance, she shared that music is her “first love,” suggesting that it may not actually be what she’s most known for. Perhaps her second love is where people might have seen her, though that could just as easily be performing in musicals on TV, film or the stage. Singing could still be part of how we know her. It’s just hard to imagine that voice being some kind of secret.
Robin took the same cue we did and tying the laughing emoji with NASA pointing to “Veronica Mars” and her born in the ‘90s making him wonder about Sarah Hyland. Leslie was flummoxed, throwing around Noah Cyrus before landing on Kacey Musgraves.
Nicole has been all over the place herself, but recalled that Ringmaster’s guitar pic had crossed bones on it, making her think of “The Bones” by Maren Morris. She also noted that Maren performed at the Nashville Christmas tree lighting as a proud citizen of that city. Could it be her?
Probably not, as the clues fit even better Twitter's best guess, "The Goldbergs" star Hayley Orrantia. So they were close in thinking Haley and sitcom, they just had the wrong one.
Hayley got her start in a girl country group on "The X Factor" called Lakoda Rayne, so the pipes were always there, but she's definitely known more for acting. And the "No" elf fits her film "Cancelling Christmas" much better.
That didn't stop Twitter from throwing out some other guesses from left field as they're not nearly as locked in, but this feels like a lock for us. So no, it's not Rebel Wilson or Emily Osment or Kacey Musgraves or Maren Morris or anyone else. We're that sure!
#TheMaskedSinger Ringmaster is Maran Morris, gosh I'm so mad that "She" said this before I reestablished my Twitter account. I knew this last week. Everyone knows the song Bones, it's her!
For their last chance to impress, the three semi-finalists hit the stage together to tackle the same song. It's a great way to showcase their diversity as artists, how well they can collaborate vocally, and who stands out just a bit more from others in the pack.
(“One Way or Another,” Blondie) Armadillo did about what we expected in this, though we’re impressed he was able to stay on pitch. Actually, the song wasn’t really doing much for any of them as a showcase for vocal talent, though maybe that was intention for him. Miss Teddy had more character in her voice, even on this track’s limited range, while Ringmaster came through with a lot of stage presence and visual performance.
Still, it’s very hard to speculate between the two of them who should win this. It almost comes down to personal preference this round. Miss Teddy is no joke, a consummate professional who has a lot of flavor and texture in her voice. She’s a pleasure to listen to and a real tour de force.
But Ringmaster is a powerful presence in her own right. She’s been solid all season, but went next level with this performance. She definitely has the most impressive vocal range of the season. She had a masterful evening and has had a great run to this point.
We’re not sure how arbitrary these votes are on double-unmasking nights, but it’s imperative that Armadillo get eliminated first. Yes, he pulled heartstrings with “Amazing Grace,” but the performance itself was by no means amazing. And there’s no way he’s a stronger contender to take on Firefly in the finale than either of his opponents.
Thankfully, the audience got this right -- making the next unmasking reveal even more of a nailbiter -- in sending Armadillo out the door first. When he was announced for the Showdown, his nickname was presented as “Dawg.” Or, you know, Dog the Bounty Hunter. Right?
Robin Thicke: Stone Cold Steve Austin
Jenny McCarthy: Dog the Bounty Hunter
Ken Jeong: Al Pacino
Nicole Scherzinger: Dog the Bounty Hunter
Leslie Jordan: Gary Busey
We don’t know if production stopped the music in the studio when Ken echoed his terrible guess from earlier in the night as his final guess, but we want to believe it happened. We want to believe that even the production team couldn’t get behind such an awful guess.
Nicole jumped on board Jenny with the most likely and logical guess of the night. Everything fits him so well, we’d be surprised if it was anyone else. So of course we weren’t surprised at all that it was, in fact, Dog the Bounty Hunter under there.
Both of the remaining singers are totally worthy of contending in this season’s finale. Like the last round, it was heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to the incredible Jordan Mailata and we fully expect to have our hearts broken again.
We’re throwing our support behind Ringmaster for this one as she gave us more dynamic range and a bigger array of tricks and tools in her vocal arsenal. She’d be a formidable opponent in the end, and a tough one to beat. But can she get there?
She can and she did, as the consummate pro and bona fide superstar Miss Teddy was knocked out of the competition. The woman is an absolute legend, but she’s also proven herself in this industry. Ringmaster still seems like she has a lot to prove, so we’re happy for her to get that chance.
Robin Thicke: Karen Clark
Jenny McCarthy: Gloria Gaynor
Ken Jeong: Yolanda Adams
Nicole Scherzinger: Jennifer Holliday
Leslie Jordan: Jennifer Holliday
If she hadn’t said it before and had it cut before final air, Nicole had clearly been thinking this might be Jennifer Holliday for a while -- we just never saw her make that guess. The clues all line up, and that iconic voice seems a dead giveaway. There’s really no one else it could be.
And there’s no one else it was, as Jennifer Holliday stood revealed when that adorable Miss Teddy head came off. And then she proved why she’s so incredible, moving superfan Nicole to tears, by reprising her powerful interpretation of Demi Lovato’s “Tell Me You Love Me.”
“The Masked Singer” continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.