Four singers take "The Masked Singer" stage, but only one will survive -- who did enough to be crowned the Week 1 King or Queen, and who is gone?
We have a theory as to why “The Masked Singer” put together the most brutal and cut-throat twist in its history for Season 8, and it’s all about trying to score bigger and better stars. They’ve certainly got more than ever!
This season, Nick Cannon revealed that there are an incredible 26 celebrities competing on the show. So how can that not take 22 episodes to get through? Well, it’s going to take multiple eliminations per week, and that’s definitely their approach.
Each week, it looks as if four acts will take to the stage to perform -- and only one will advance! That means that three Masks go home in this very first episode, and three more next week and so on and so on. Now, 26 doesn’t divide evenly by four, so there must be some other tricks on the way, but “TMS” always plays it coy with its structure each season.
This does allow for the opportunity to score even bigger names, though, if most of them are only going to have to perform once. And even if they do advance, they’ll come back maybe one or two more times, but much later down the road. This is easier for busy celebrity schedules to accommodate.
Based on the first unmaskings we got tonight, it certainly looks like they’re getting some big names, as these were some all-time legendary faces we got to see coated in sweat and matted hair coming out from under those masks. So who was unmasked and who was crowned the King or Queen in this Royal-themed premiere?
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.
(“Perfect,” P!nk)Harp set an incredibly high bar with the first performance of the night. What an incredible instrument, with such a rich and hypnotizing vibrato. She has such power in her voice it’s an absolutely undeniable presence that knocks you back and demands you take notice. On top of that, we could feel her connection to the lyrics. We didn’t need to see her face to feel her heart in these vocals. That’s a hard one to beat; everyone else had to be sweating bullets after this.
Guesses: Our first instinct based on presence, power and strength was Amber Riley from “Glee,” probably because her character’s story seemed to echo the real story Harp shared in her package. She talked about auditioning as a teen for the world’s biggest show, which has to be “American Idol,” and being told she didn’t fit the mold.
Earlier seasons of the show were extremely brutal about needing the pop star “package,” criticizing people for being plus-sized or otherwise not fitting narrow beauty standards, so it’s very possible this is what Harp experienced in her formative years. But she said her “uniqueness” helped her land the “opportunity of a lifetime.”
Images we saw in the clues package included 3-D glasses, her performing almost operatic for two men in black, and a hat that reminded us of a witch hat, the “Wizard of Oz” scarecrow hat or even a “Harry Potter” wizard’s hat.
Nick asked Harp what accomplishment she’s most proud of, and for her she said it was the award for her acting … before correcting it to the one she won for her singing … before then saying it was the one for her comedy, which she got to share with her besties. That’s a ton of clues in one package.
It got Robin thinking Queen Latifah as a triple-threat, while Ken wondered if it could be EGOT winner Jennifer Hudson, though she wasn’t rejected by the judges for not fitting the mold; she just somehow didn’t get enough votes to advance as far as she should have.
But the internet is backing our first instinct that this is Ms. Riley. The voice, the story, it’s just too unmistakable. There are a few other stray guesses for people like Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson and Brandy but those people are wrong.
(“Love Me Do,” The Beatles)Hedgehog is definitely not a singer, but was having fun up there doing a little tribute to his home country. There was enough of his natural accent in there to know he’s from the UK. It was a very lowkey performance, with minimal movement, making us think he’s probably an older performer. It’s certainly not going to win any singing awards, but there was a charm to what he did.
Guesses: Honesty, the accent in the clue package started to immediately send us in a certain direction, and then the clues started quickly fitting. The commentary was so cheeky and silly and then there’s just how massively successful he was at one point in his career, that narrows it down when you’re thinking about massively successful non-singing British groups.
Honestly, only one really comes to mind. He said that he’d been naked in Playboy, that he’d sold out the Hollywood Bowl and Sydney Opera House, been part of the Olympics and even made the Queen of England laugh. If the accent is real, and it felt very authentic at times, all of the British imagery sealed the deal.
We saw a dead parrot and a snake, but also a knight in armor, someone dressed as a royal queen and even a double-decker bus. Then, Nick asked him which award meant the most to him and he said he’d won a Tony and a Grammy. Immediately, we started thinking of the silly songs associated with Monty Python (and the “Spamalot!” musical), and this specific accent being much thicker in Eric Idle’s earlier years.
Ken offered up a terrible guess with Ringo Starr before Robin picked up what we were putting down with Eric. Jenny threw out John Cleese and Michael Palin, but this had Eric’s distinctive sound all over it. Nicole thought maybe it was Bill Nighy of “Love Actually,” but it’s gotta be Eric, right?
Some online didn’t hate the Ringo Starr guess, but more of them were feeling our (and Robin’s) Eric Idle guess. We’re certainly standing by it. And then there were some random guesses like Barry Manilow, Pete Townshend, Michael Caine and Hugh Jackman, so apparently you either knew (we believe we’re right) or you didn’t know at all!
(“I Don’t Want to Be,” Gavin DeGraw)Hummingbird got stronger the longer he went, hitting bigger notes, singing with more confidence and really selling the song. At first, we were feeling confident saying this was not a professional singer as he certainly didn’t move like one and we weren’t hearing it, but by the end, we’re not so sure. Some singers don’t have great physicality on stage. Either that or he’s got a great secret talent because that was a very accomplished performance.
Guesses: There were a lot of sports references and images throughout his clue package, which started off with football imagery and talk of a kickoff. He also said he dominated the Super Bowl, showing a score of 71-0. But one early clue was that he lives in harmony and then he started dropping quotable lines.
He said his career was “a revelation,” as well as, “I’m only human,” “all or nothing” and a reference to DNA. He said that he formed a patriotic team that felt like family and that Shaquille O’Neal actually helped him get started. When asked what he cherishes the most in his golden trophy room, he said it was his special silver trophies that are “out of this world.”
Ken thinks the silver could be Super Bowl rings and this could be Peyton Manning, but we refuse to believe that Peyton has been hiding this kind of singing ability for this long as much as he’s willing to appear in anything and do anything.
His second guess was Tom Brady, which wasn’t any better, but then no one had a really good read on this one. Deion Sanders was Robin’s guess, but Jenny isn’t ready to say it’s not an actual singer like Chad Kroeger, Uncle Kracker or Rob Thomas.
The internet isn’t nearly as confident in this guess as the previous two, but there is a rising consensus online, and the Shaq clue was a big helper. They tied the clues about the Super Bowl and all those quotes linking to boy bands and forming a team to *NSYNC and their guess, Chris Kirkpatrick. We’re not mad about it. A few still threw around some sports guesses, but the majority are thinking Chris.
Nashville Tennessee & all of the football clues is because Chris is a die hard football fan & Nsync played at the Super Bowl Halftime show! I will go back to look at more of the clues. Also whoever it is I thought was better than The Hurp,so I will be sad to see them go!
(“Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Fred Astaire)Knight may have performed a classic standard, but he did it in more of a sing-song talk way than actual singing … which only made it more obvious who this was. He released a whole album of music like this. It’s such an iconic voice, an iconic way of talking, there was really no hiding this one. He has no real rhythm, but he’s clearly having fun.
Guesses: The first clue was “space cadet.” He talked about being Shakespearean trained, how he’s on multiple walks of fame and has done everything from TV to movies to even releasing albums. He said he’d worked with George Lucas, which we think was a misdirect away from Gene Roddenberry.
He said he threw two chairs on TV once, and that he’d donated a body part for charity, but the police badge solidified the guess in our mind, because outside of “Star Trek’s” Captain Kirk, William Shatner is best known as the star of “T.J. Hooker.”
Honestly, even his giggle was classically his. He is such a distinct legend and icon every utterance made it more and more clear. When he was asked if he cherished big and small ones, he said he loved all of them. He said he even had a small one from his native country in his chest.
Then Ken proved why he’s the absolute worst by taking the Knight to “Knight Rider” and David Hasselhoff, who is way, way taller than this. He is about as cheesy, but that’s not him. Jenny, though, was all over it guessing William Shatner, to which Knight hilariously gave a thumbs down. Robin threw out “Weird Al” Yankovic and Jerry Springer.
Do they really not know? Twitter certainly does, as there were virtually no other guesses at all. Some voices and personalities are simply too iconic. That said, we did see some off the wall guesses like Richard Dreyfuss and Bobby Knight -- so maybe we’re the ones who are crazy.
The Knight is William Shatner, and you cannot convince me otherwise #TheMaskedSinger
This one seems pretty obvious, both as to who was the best and who was the worst. While Hummingbird ultimately impressed, there’s no denying that this was Harp’s week. Her performance was just so magical and her voice really soared.
If we’re going to go in order from worst to first, then this slot would definitely go to Knight. While we loved the costume design, and he was clearly having an absolute hoot on the show, there’s no denying that he was far and away the worst singer of the four we saw tonight.
We’ll just assume that’s what’s happening, because it was last in, first out for Knight as he was the first one voted to unmask and say goodbye. It was definitely the right choice.
Robin Thicke: “Weird Al” Yankovic
Jenny McCarthy: William Shatner
Ken Jeong: David Hasselhoff
Nicole Scherzinger: John Lithgow
After all the talk about how small this celebrity is, we can’t believe the panel went with “Weird Al” Yankovic (6’0”), John Lithgow (6’4”) and David Hasselhoff (6’4”) when William Shatner is 5’10” and this guy is shorter than Nick (6’0”). So only one of these guesses is even physically feasible.
Of course Jenny got this right and it was William Shatner hamming it up under there. When asked what it was like being the Knight, William took Nick’s mic and dramatically said, “It was horrible. I can’t tell you how horrible it was. I couldn't see anything. I can’t walk. The noise was deafening. The mask was obliterating. Oh, was that fun!”
In keeping with the idea of setting up the most dramatic finale between the only two performers who could actually sing, the next to be unmasked should have been Hedgehog. There was an element of fun to the performance, but not a great singing ability.
Once again, that’s the way the voting went, with Hedgehog being the second to be unmasked. It’s right in the ranking of worst to first, and it’s the only way for there to be any tension between the final two masks as there’s at least a slight possibility Hummingbird could edge out Harp (not that it should happen, mind you!).
Robin Thicke: Eric Idle
Jenny McCarthy: John Cleese
Ken Jeong: Elton John
Nicole Scherzinger: Bill Nighy
Ken’s guess isn’t even worthy of discussion, and we’re standing by ours. We agree with Robin that it comes down to “different vocal tones” between his guess and Jenny’s John Cleese. John has a very precise way of talking, and his accent is much different than Eric’s. Everything about this just screams the Monty Python legend.
Chalk one up for Robin -- this would actually be a fun season to bring back the Golden Ear and rack up points for correct guesses with so many unmaskings -- as it was legendary comedian Eric Idle underneath the mask. As a consolation prize for Jenny, he said, “This is John Cleese’s real body,” referring to the Hedgehog body.
He then shared an anecdote that “Love Me Do” was the first song Paul McCartney had ever written, so he wanted to perform it. He wrote to Paul and asked, saying he got a response that Paul said he could perform it, but to please tell him what show so he could avoid it.
Between Harp and Hummingbird, there is a little bit of a contest, but it’s not enough that we feel differently about what should happen. Harp came out and set a standard that non one quite reached throughout the rest of the night. Hummingbird came closest, and if more than one survived, he’d be a lock.
With only one advancing, the luck of the draw may have done him in, but for some reason, we’re not going to find out who was under this mask, as Nick said that result will have to wait until next week.
He also said we’d see Harp next week, too. Will she just sit in the Winners Circle? There’s no way she can perform -- we’ve got 22 more Masks to get through! In more ways than one, to be continued...
“The Masked Singer” continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.