With only three artists left on "The Masked Singer," the semi-finals delivers the biggest upset of the season as California Roll, Macaw and Medusa all fight for a spot in next week's finale -- we know they're all great at this point, but we're still reeling!
And then there were three, soon to be two, as "The Masked Singer" delivered a truly shocking Semi-FInals result. It was an hour filled with emotion and passion and tears and then a whole lot of WTF!
Perhaps that was going to happen no matter who went home because there are definitely contingencies online convinced of victory for each of the three finalists, California Roll, Macaw and Medusa. That said, we still stand by our assertion that this came as a bit of a shock.
It's not just the stellar journey they've had across the whole season to this point, it's that they also brought something really unique to tonight's stage. Sometimes we wonder how much of a disconnect there is between what we see and hear through our television screens and what happens with the energy in the room.
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For tonight's semi-finals, the Battle Royale was back, but this time it was super-sized. With only one mask going home -- and it's a Grammy-winning beast of an artist -- all three semi-finalists threw down on the same song, and they all brought something completely different.
There were no easy answers this week when it came time for the vote. But they still got it wrong!
Let’s jump right in with this week’s masks. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking(s), 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.
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("Breakaway," Kelly Clarkson) California Roll filled the room physically and aurally with a transcendent arrangement that took Kelly's empowerment anthem straight to church. There was so much vocal play, it's amazing they were as tight as they were considering their limited ability to see one another -- especially scattered across the studio as they were here. We loved how they rearranged the track to put their own stamp on it, making it something completely different while staying true to the original.
Guesses: This time around, the California Rolls were talking about how this brought back memories of how it all started for them, calling it "a full circle moment" and how being on this show was giving them flashbacks. That certainly seems to suggest another show in their past.
They also revealed that they share a connection with Jenny. "Dear Jenny, I know you've enjoyed us on this stage," they said. "But I think it's our time on Broadway that you may remember us from."
Jenny briefly mused about Pentatonix before going with the cast of "Dear Evan Hansen," instead. She tied the menu #1 to them winning the Tony. Nicole strayed from last week's PTX and "Hamilton" guesses to land on the cast of "Spring Awakening" … and further away from the right answer. Ken went with the number one soundtrack to find the cast of "In the Heights," but why do they keep straying from the right answer?
Last week, the group talked about how this whole experience was so outside what they've usually done, pushing themselves in whole new directions. They said they can't use the foundation they know, which could be as simple as being able to watch one another as they perform for cues. Their on-stage clue then was "White House." They explained by saying, "We had such a good time performing at the White House, they even gave us a standing O."
The group's previous clue package included soy sauce, a rack of "cool shades," and revealed that they'd been on Broadway. We also saw a "group project" and "spicy may cones," while at least one of them shared that they moonlighted as a DJ and another got married.
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All of those clues were in the first person, so it was a confusing hybrid of wondering if the clues were specific to the member saying them or just one member of the group (or maybe more). They did reveal they'd had the chance to work with the likes of Dolly Parton and Snoop Dogg.
Their first on-stage clue was "5 Billion." "Five billion and growing," said one of the rolls. "But who's counting?" Well, we were, and Twitter was right there with us, as all the clues pointed to one iconic a cappella group that Jenny already guess tonight.
After watching them tonight, it was even easier to identify who was who among the members of Pentatonix as they performed. Everything from vocal range in the solo parts to height on strengthened our resolve. On top of that, they fit the clues perfectly.
PTX has 5.9 billion views on their YouTue channel (more now, though). They've worked with Dolly Parton and Snoop Dogg and their whole existence was a "group project" that broke into the mainstream after they won "The Sing Off" in 2011. The tiger in the package could refer to their winning performance of "Eye of the Tiger." They've won three Grammys, scored their silver screen mention from the clues with a "Pitch Perfect 2" cameo.
The solo members even got clue shout-outs. "Gleeful rays" isn't a reference to a "Glee" star, but rather Scott Hoying entering a contest to meet the cast. Kirstin Moldonado starred on Broadway, Kevin Olusola's Yale degree is their Ivy League pedigree, while the DJ refers to Mitch Grassi's moonlighting gig. The one who got married is Matt Sallee.
Tonight's clue is a clear nod to their win on Season 3 of NBC's "The Sing-Off" a cappella singing competition. This experience would obviously echo that one, and the #1 menu clue is probably to do with them winning there/
California Roll is 100% the Penatonix. No group has ever gave me chills the way they give me chills #TheMaskedSinger— Brunette Bombshell (@HannahKCarson24) May 11, 2023 @HannahKCarson24
California Roll HAS to be Pentatonix! But then again, the clue package said and Ken guessed "first movie role" or som'n like that! Perhaps they were in a movie? #TheMaskedSinger— Brooke Parker (@gramfurn) May 11, 2023 @gramfurn
#TheMaskedSinger— mc 🌊 vote like it matters, because it does. (@lessandsee) May 11, 2023 @lessandsee
California Roll with Kevin doing his thing.
I think Pentatonix as California Roll mask this time. #TheMaskedSinger— Maya (@Maya_Adachi) May 11, 2023 @Maya_Adachi
The California Roll is definitely Pentatonix #TheMaskedSinger I clocked Scott's voice immediately.— chloe⁷ 🧈 (@lyannastarkwea) May 11, 2023 @lyannastarkwea
Are we really supposed to sit here like California Roll isn't Pentatonix??— KayJay (@kemdee_ohjay) May 4, 2023 @kemdee_ohjay
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("Take Me to Church," Hozier) Medusa brought all kinds of different energies to this one performance, with a frantic energy at times paired with heartbreaking pathos and surprising bursts of aggression. It's as if she threw all the different sides she's showcased of herself into this one performance. It felt a bit disjointed to us, but we can only assume the energy was different in the room because the panel and crowd were all about it.
Guesses: This week, Medusa spoke about the loss of her "other half," her biggest cheerleader, who passed away in 2020. This is also when she found out she was pregnant, creating a connection between the two. New images included a pirate ship and a photo of Sarah McLachlan.
Medusa shared that she has a connection with Robin. "Both of our voices have taken us on a journey, one that put platinum on our walls." In other words, she's a platinum-selling artist. Robin started wondering about Grimes, because Sarah is Canadian, but even he wasn't too confident in his own guess.
Nicole took the Sarah guess to Lilith Fair and the grunge vibes we're getting, throwing out names like Natalie Merchant, Paula Cole, but is thinking younger. She reached back for the 1996 clue on the Boarding Pass in a previous clue package to a birth date but couldn't find anyone that fits that and has children. Then Ken tossed out Dido because … why not?
In last week's package, Medusa talked about trying to manifest this run for herself, lighting a candle, rehearsing and even talking with her therapist. The new onstage clue was the word "Mom." She explained, "Being an artist is my greatest passion, but being a mom is my favorite job."
Nick asked her how she's able to tap into such deep emotions for her performances, and Medusa replied, "I have experienced devastating loss in my life and I think my goal as an artist was for people to feel less alone. That's what music has always done to me, so just the fact you guys are feeling what I'm trying to portray, it means more than you'll ever know."
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During her wild card round, Medusa talked about how she's always felt like an underdog and how she had to prove herself often in her career. New images included a record with the "Masked Singer" logo on it and one of the Men in Black wearing LeeAnn Rimes' Sun mask.
Before that, she described herself as a "dancer in the dark" who grew up far away from the spotlight. There were images of a giant chess board, a heart tattoo with the words "True Love," a picture of Buckingham Palace on balancing scales, and hints of the Super Bowl.
She said she learned to embrace her oddities, and the weirdness of this stage is what drew her to the show. But the most tantalizing clue was when she said she'd "technically" been here before, only now she was here to compete. Her "swag bag" clue was a DVD of a fake movie, "Medusa: Snakes on the Astral Plane." It also touted $340 million sold! "Sometimes success comes in the grayest of places," Medusa responded to this clue. Last week's clues threw in "Piano" and "Dragon" and "Prize."
Another onstage was the word "Alias." Medusa explained, "Here, I'm known as Medusa and at home known by name, but to the world, I go by something completely different." In other words, she has a famous stage name different from her real one.
Fergie continues to be a popular guess online, and she certainly has pipes similar to what Medusa has displayed, but the strongest guess remains Bishop Briggs. Bishop was born Sarah Grace McLaughlin (which is very close to Sarah McLachlan's name, tying to this week's clue).
For Bishop, the chess pieces could be as obvious as the bishop piece, while "the grayest of places" could refer to her song that featured on "Fifty Shades Freed," which grossed ... you guessed it, $340 million. As for ties to the big game, Bishop's "Wild Horses" (another chess piece) was used in a 2016 ad.
Later clues included a shot of Coldplay's Chris Martin, who Bishop has toured with, and a ticket to Tokyo, which could refer to her family moving there. Her mention of ties to this stage could refer to when Queen of Hearts (Jewel) sang her song "River" back in Season 6 on her way to winning the crown.
Oh and Bishop is a new mom, announcing the birth of her first child last August. As for this week's heartbreaking story, Bishop shared that she lost her sister Kate to ovarian cancer in 2020, so this would be a fitting tribute to her and that loss.
Once again, the Twittersphere is spending as much time complaining about Medusa's vocals than they are trying to figure out who they are. Maybe that's because they're as confident in her identity as we are (or they think it's Fergie).
I'm going with Bishop Briggs for Medusa. Final guess. And clearly the California Roll is Pentatonix!#TheMaskedSinger— Jeanette Ward (@jeanette_y_ward) May 11, 2023 @jeanette_y_ward
The judges have lost it over Medusa every damn performance & I don't get it every damn performance. Shes just yelling & stomping & they're blown away. Whatever they're hearing isn't translating over my TV #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/gGv6daFvjU— Nik (@Kiki0S) May 11, 2023 @Kiki0S
Medusa is Bishop Briggs!!! #TheMaskedSinger #MedusaMask pic.twitter.com/wbgYuMINs8— Kristin (@ColinSearchlig1) May 11, 2023 @ColinSearchlig1
Medusa needs to GOOOOOOOO #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/9f41YwgjSv— whateva (@capricornspam) May 4, 2023 @capricornspam
I feel so passionately about the medusa mask on the masked singer...there is no way its anyone other than bishop briggs #maskedsinger #TheMaskedSinger— Trinity's House (@Tobesotrinity) May 11, 2023 @Tobesotrinity
I was tired of Medusa’s shrieking and yelling after her first week. I need Randy Jackson to tell America she is pitchy. And my god, can we stop with the overwrought songs? #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/urNpjLvtqd— KH (@KathyHH1031) May 11, 2023 @KathyHH1031
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("What Makes You Beautiful," One Direction) Macaw actually got the crowd singing along with him without even asking them to, which is such a superstar move. It's a testament to his ability to engage. This is the most uptempo we've seen him with an infectious energy as he danced around the stage. There's a freedom in this performance that was infectious and, yes, beautiful to see. We're so happy for him that he's free to be.
Guesses: That was the story of his newest clue package, how he was afraid of who he was for so long. He even said that he used to avoid love songs because he couldn't relate and lamented he waited so long to be his true self for fear he'd lose everyone. Without saying it, it seems pretty clear he's recently come out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Another line that stood out was that he was hoping that with this experience he could inspire others, using the line "come back on TV" to tell others "you're enough." That makes it clear that we know him from television, which certainly fits our favorite guess. HIs connection is with Nicole. "Not only do we both love to travel, but we both have a special love for the Philippines."
Nicole decided this new clue confirmed her Darren Criss clue, as he's part Filpino and loves Red Hot Chili Peppers music (that was a visual clue this week). But she also was thinking of David Archuleta, who has been our favorite guess for a while now. Plus, his coming out story has been heartbreaking and empowering and echoed a lot of what Macaw has said on this show.
Robin, though, recalled that Natasha Bedingfield was the Chili Pepper in a previous season so wondered if that could be a hint that this is her brother Daniel, perhaps. Robin was pretty sure Daniels served as a judge on a show in the UK, which could explain the new Vote clue.
Last week, he said that while he feared he wouldn't be able to handle the pressure of a big stage like this again, "I've had such a fun time after going through a lot of life transitions; I feel like I'm able to spread my wings and show my true colors," and be his true self. Confirmation, perhaps?!
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He also talked about how much it has meant to him the feeling that he's being accepted for who he is on this stage, from behind his mask. Acceptance is something, he said, he's struggled with both in his career and in his personal life. His newest "Super Clue" was the word "Leader." Macaw explained, "Whether in the studio, on the stage, or on TV, I know how to lead."
In previous clue packages, Macaw revealed that he's been performing since he was really young, saying that his father used to bribe him into it with quesadillas. He was pushed into performing at a local Mexican restaurant, with his parents a big part of what got him into entertainment.
That said, though, the pressure of trying to please them and "be the good son" left him overwhelmed and having panic attacks. Ultimately, though, Macaw said what started as a way to make them happy ultimately brought him "glee," with an emphasis on that word.
He also talked about melted cheese, had images including dolphins, a telescope (telenovela?), arrows, and a jar of salsa, while talking about how he learned to finally take breaks and reset when needed. He also said that this is the year he's decided to be brave both on stage and in his life, with this show a big part of that.
One on-stage clue was a silver medal that looks kind of like a sun. To explain, Macaw said, "It wasn't until I left the nest that I struck gold." We've seen guesses ranging from Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Nick Jonas, Charlie Puth, Zayn Malik and even Elijah wood, but we're feeling more and more confident that this is definitely "American Idol" runner-up, David Archuleta (which definitely involved voting).
He's spoken before about the tremendous stress he endured going on that show at 17 years old; and that silver medal could represent his second-place finish. He "struck gold" after that with a gold record. And all of that came after he won "Star Search" five years earlier, encouraged by his father and even promised Mexican food for his efforts.
His talk about being brave in his personal life and on stage could be a reference to the fact that he's only recently come out as gay, which has created challenges in his relationships with several family members. That also connects with tonight's clue about acceptance. As for the "glee" nod, it could refer to his collaboration with Kevin McHale for his "Faith in Me" music video last year.
Let’s GO, Macaw! 🦜 #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/4pmwhmtSSC— Russell Todd 🦊 (@russell_todd17) May 11, 2023 @russell_todd17
The macaw is definitely @DavidArchie & that's all I know #TheMaskedSinger— Danielle (@vivaglamgal) May 11, 2023 @vivaglamgal
The Macaw mask is David Archuleta. #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/IBSO6Kzqv3— andrea 🌼 (@forthereading) May 11, 2023 @forthereading
The Macaw is 100% @DavidArchie that voice is too distinctive to miss. Very excited for the unmasking! #TheMaskedSinger— Semaa Amin (@AminSemaa) May 11, 2023 @AminSemaa
Oh Macaw is David Archuleta and damn is he talented. #MaskedSinger #TheMaskedSinger— P, 🏳️🌈, & RC (@Ashlandian) May 11, 2023 @Ashlandian
@DavidArchie I know that’s you as the #Macaw on the #TheMaskedSinger!!! I pray to god you win next week!!! 🥰👉🏻👈🏻🥰 pic.twitter.com/2nd9SyqSiR— Jeremy Lee Lawrence (@My1angelcje) May 11, 2023 @My1angelcje
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[[battle royale video not yet available]]
("Runaway Baby," Bruno Mars) California Roll faltered for the first time in the early parts of this as they didn't seem to know what to do with themselves as backing singers. The beatbox was a nice touch and they finally got some harmonies together, but this felt like something they were less prepared to tackle. Macaw felt totally natural on the track, with his voice nailing Bruno's cadence and delivery style. He's got just enough range to hit the ups and downs and kept a great energy throughout. It wasn't mind-blowing, but it was strong and consistent. Medusa lost us a bit with her unnecessary growling, but when she's actually singing we felt a whole different mood coming through. There was a longing in her voice that none of the others had, which was an interesting place to leave us.
This was definitely a tough one as it felt like Macaw had the most consistent performance, while none of the three really rose up and deliver a stellar Battle Royale. Looking earlier in the night, Macaw again had the strongest outing, followed by California Roll for the sheer complexity and audacity of what they did. Medusa is raw emotion every time, but it got a little wild tonight. We'd probably send her home, but this fired up crowd was loving all of it.
In a shocking upset, it was the end of the road for California Roll, despite a stellar season, first round tonight and dropping that beatboxing in the Battle Royale. We stand by our assertion that Medusa must hit different in the room. For us, there are flashes of brilliance mixed with flashes of wha-huh?!
- Robin Thicke: Pentatonix
- Jenny McCarthy: Pentatonix
- Ken Jeong: Cast of "In the Heights"
- Nicole Scherzinger: Cast of "Pitch Perfect"
In the least surprising reveal yet, of course it was Pentatonix underneath the California Roll costume, which left Jenny and Robin beaming that they'd actually gotten one right. It only took them long enough to commit to it!
When asked what brought them to this stage, they said that the chance to rearrange songs with a full band was pushing them in areas they'd not yet explored too much. We have to say this may also go down as the most shocking elimination yet as we felt for sure PTX had a shot at this year's title!
And we definitely weren't the only ones scratching our heads at these results!
I mean were we hearing two different things?????? How was California Roll worse than Medusa???!!!??? Since when has screaming in the microphone been considered the better singer #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/vhYV89FNyq— whateva (@capricornspam) May 11, 2023 @capricornspam
Are you kidding me? There is NO WAY Medusa is better than California Roll! #TheMaskedSinger— Katina Ward (@katward73) May 11, 2023 @katward73
WHAT?? CALIFORNIA ROLL is going home!? #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/eOPeutT7cp— Brooke Parker (@gramfurn) May 11, 2023 @gramfurn
nah nope this season is rigged for medusa how the heck is california roll aka pentatonix is going home?! #TheMaskedSinger— Gaby 🧸 BECKYCHELLA (@jonahsdove) May 11, 2023 @jonahsdove
I am upset! California roll in third??? #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/RL9xjgVeUe— Shayla James (@girlyhippierock) May 11, 2023 @girlyhippierock
Let’s be forreal. Medusa was the worst in the battle #TheMaskedSinger pic.twitter.com/TfZDuzQe1D— Monet ✨ (@globalgettdown) May 11, 2023 @globalgettdown
"The Masked Singer" wraps up Season 9 next Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.