It's not always about singing talent on The Masked Singer, and that's definitely what happened this week as a new celebrity entered the competition before arguably the biggest villain on reality television unmasked and exited stage left.
The Masked Singer brought back the four remaining masks from Week 1, but they weren't alone. Cow, Diver, Gazelle, and S'More were joined by the season's first Wild Card, which is just a star that got to skip the first week. But could the Pickle take out his more established compatriots?
It was also NFL week, with several NFL stars on to help present clues, and all of the masks performing songs by acts who've played at the Super Bowl like Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry. We even got the return of Season 8's Milkshake, with Le'Veon Ball bringing the party to get the night started!
By the end of the show, though, it was the end of the road for one mask. Who did enough to keep their dream alive? Can Ken Jeong keep his streak alive after correctly guessing that Rubber Ducky was Anthony Anderson last week? Is Usher really under one of these masks, like the panel thought?
We can answer that last one pretty definitely. No.
Let's jump right in with this week's mask. 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.
Le'Veon Ball [Milkshake Season 8]
("I Gotta Feeling," Black Eyed Peas) All we can say is the running back can be grateful he's not part of the competition this season because that was about as "meh" as it gets when it comes to vocal quality and performance. As an anthem to bring up the energy in the room, he was definitely amped up like Pitbull and DJ Khaled had a baby with Red Bull running through its veins. This was a lot of fun, but it was not a particularly pleasant aural experience.
("Treasure," Bruno Mars)Cow raised his own bar after a stellar debut last week. He had the perfect nuance in his voice for that slight playfulness Bruno delivers while also delivering that effortless smooth sophistication. We saw a great vocal range, too, so this Grammy winner is still at the top of his game artistically. His stage presence tells us he's definitely comfortable bringing it to the people.
Guesses: This week's clue package saw Cow really emphasizing how important family is to him. He has kids of his own and despite all the temptations of fame, he's always made sure to put family first. Perhaps that's because he didn't have a dad when he was growing up.
In fact, he said he didn't have a lot of positive male role models at all, coming up in a house of all women. He also credited this with the fact he's a sensitive soul. New images included a red boxing glove with a yellow down arrow on it and a crayon drawing of a red heart drawn by his calves -- ahem, children.
His on-stage clue came out in a giant purple bowl, out of which Le'Veon pulled a pair of tap shoes. To this, Cow said, "Much like a Super Bowl Halftime Show, I am known for my killer moo-ves."
Previously, he told us he didn't even know fame was in his future, believing he was instead destined for a pretty simple life at home. This was despite his dreams of standing out and being a big star. The problem, he said, was that he struggled controlling his emotions. But everything changed when he learned he could write, presumably referring to music. He said he's since gone on to win multiple Grammys and traveled the world with "hit after hit after hit.".
Images included the date July 4, a Classic Culinary Cuisine for Cows cookbook and the recipe "Classic Cow Cake," which he proceeded to mix and bake through the clue package. HIs first on-stage clue came in a popcorn bucket with a "Blockbuster Movie" ticket. He explained, "One of the better things known about me all started with a moo-vie."
After the panel threw Usher out as a singer with some dance cred, Robin added Trey Songz, and Ne-Yo, adding that he thought he heard a bit of him in the vocal tones. What he didn't know, though, is if Ne-Yo is known for dance. Jenny threw out Mario, though he doesn't have kids, so she shifted to Nelly.
Nicole, though, doesn't think Nelly has those pipes, so she instead thought of Jason Derulo, who's definitely known for both his voice and his dance skills. He's got one kid, though, while Cow mentioned multiple. Nick, though, pointed out how Cow kept messing with him, suggesting they know one another pretty well.
The internet was circling Ne-Yo pretty strong last week, with these latest clues only further solidifying their conviction. For one, he has seven children. For another, he is a huge dance fanatic, having judged Jennifer Lopez' World of Dance. He was raised alone by his mother and has one sister.
I really think the cow is Ne-Yo but the costume is throwing me off #TheMaskedSinger
I think the #CowMask on #TheMaskedSinger absolutely nailed it tonight. “Treasure” is a very catchy song, and he definitely had the right energy for it. I was thinking Leslie Odom Jr. last week…. but now I think The Cow is DEFINITELY Ne-Yo 🕺
("I Ain't Worried," OneRepublic)Diver was stronger vocally this week, but he's still giving us good bar band vibes. His stage performance is a little -- scratch that, a lot corny, but he's definitely having a good time up there. We heard his voice crack, suggesting he's not trained it up nor does he sing all the time. He performed like someone who's very impressed with themselves. The voice was pretty solid this week, making us think if he really focused on singing, he could push himself to the next level.
Guesses: We're still definitely getting Vanderpump Rules' Tom Sandoval with this clue package, which again went in on how he's a household name for being hated, and depicted almost entirely by his mistakes. He did reveal that he's always wanted to be famous, just not like this.
He's modeled, acted and even sang throughout his life and career. He called this a "heeling" experience as red high heels flashed across the clue package, as our only new visual clue.
His clue was a "superfan" in the audience painted purple with a black shamrock on his chest with a white border. His face was split blue and yellow and he had a split purple-and-white curly wig. "I'm well-suited for the club," said Diver, before getting hyped and shouting. "I know how to get the club going, what's up!?"
His first clue package was almost entirely about how he's been everyone's scapegoat and he's everyone's person to hate. He also said that he gets it as he's made mistakes, but he did it all for love.
The package opened with a front page headline -- which the cheating "Scandoval" that saw Sandoval cheating on longtime girlfriend Ariana Madix with her best friend Rachel Leviss certain made plenty of those. He said it hurts getting judged by people who've never met him and becoming the scapegoat for "every bad dude they've ever known."
He also said he's not ready to get back to the real world just yet, so he's getting his head in the game. As for imagery, the package took place on an oil rig and we saw a knight's armor and a compass pointing instead of West to "MW."
His first on-stage clue was a magazine cover for Masked magazine. It shows "11 Million Eyes on Diver!" which could be a clue to how many people watched him on something, as well as "Diver Opens Another Business." In response, Diver said, "The more people talk about my business, the more I want them out of it."
Nicole decided, based on the "superfan" clue, that this was about someone who liked to hang at "the clurb." Someone, perhaps, like a Pete Davidson. She thought the high heels might be because he's a ladies man, while TV imagery could have to do with his television fame on Saturday Night Live.
Ken, though, was right there with us and most of the internet, still thinking all about Sandoval who, after all, owns two clubs. High heels are also known as pumps as in Vanderpump Rules and the TV clue explains itself. The crowd was halfway on his side, which is way more than usual. Robin took it further back, though, to Jersey Shore star Pauly D.
But ultimately, everything is pointing to Tom Sandoval, with Ken once again building a compelling case, just as he did for Anthony Anderson last week. We're not sure what bizarro universe we've fallen into, but we're starting to listen to Ken Jeong, y'all. Something ain't right!
I was honestly impressed with #DiverMask on #TheMaskedSinger tonight. I don’t think he’s the best contestant of this group, but he definitely has swag. I still believe The Diver is Tom Sandoval, who I know has been very hated lately, but damn he can sing 🦑
("The One That Got Away," Katy Perry)Gazelle redeemed any shakiness last week with a gorgeous vibrato and tone on this heartfelt performance. We're still not sure she sings as the profession we know her for, but she's got a beautiful voice. The song got away from her just a bit when she first tried to go big, but she captured it with the never next line. She kept this simple, but it was extremely effective. What a lovely performance.
Guesses: A major focus of this second clue package was Gazelle's heritage and unique name. She said she was pressured to change it professionally at just eight yeras old and casting directors didn't quite know how to place her because of her "unique look." Now, she sees herself as a trailblazer for other little girls who look like her.
Images that we saw included a sign reading "Threat Level: 3," suggesting an entertainment triple threat, as well a a test with the grade A, and a surfboard, which could be a surf movie, a love of the ocean, or even a Teen Choice Award. On stage, Antonio Gates tossed Nick a football that had "Villain" printed across it. Gazelle explained, "I'm not actually a villain, but I can play the part. Gazelle's got range!"
Last week, we learned that she hit up a Broadway show at six years old (the sign in the clue package read Hello Doll! which could mean she saw Hello Dolly!). That sparked her interest in being on the stage, which she says she leaps at any opportunity to do.
One of those opportunities came as a teen when she entered a national talent competition … and "crashed and burned." After this, she almost swore off singing for good, but she's too passionate about it. Now, she's looking to face her fears, which is another reason we suspect singing isn't what she's known for.
With a petite frame, that first clue package included a Hawaiian shirt, three statues of bulldogs together, a director's chair and a camper in the desert. David Spade then brought out an LP with "Movie Soundtrack" printed on it. "Not only do I act in movies, I also sing in them," Gazelle told Nick.
Jenny was wondering about Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl, though we're not sure about the proud-of-her-heritage connection or that "unique look" or name changing thing, which suggests an ethnicity that might have been anglicized for American audiences.
Ken was genuinely moved by the voice and felt an intimate connection to this person he was thinking of to the point he started tearing up while talking about it. His thought was that perhaps this is Constance Wu.
Nicole didn't know how to follow that so she simply said, "I think it's Constance Wu, as well." More seriously, she was thinking that maybe this could be the original voice of Disney's Moana, Auliʻi Cravalho … "or, it's Constance Wu."
X (formerly Twitter) isn't nearly as unanimous on this one, with lots of names being thrown around. Newly in the mix and gaining steam is Pretty Little Liars star Janel Parrish, with other guesses including Idina Menzel, Evan Rachel Wood, and even Zendaya. But Parrish is definitely building the most steam.
I never watched it but A was the villain on PLL and Janelle Parrish was the villain on that show and won best villain at the nickelodeon awards She also fell in love with entertainment at age 9 after seeing Phantom on stage Gazelle I mean Janelle Parrish #TheMaskedSinger
("Moves Like Jagger," Maroon 5)S'More had to move to a lower register than Adam for this track, but his pitch was spot-on through this performance. He surprised us by struggling a bit wit breath control toward the end of the piece, which is not something you'd expect from a professional singer. Is he not? Or is the costume just heavy and hard to sing through? He has a very nice tone that comes across very polished and he definitely commands the stage.
Guesses: His clue package talked about defying his father as a teenager and commanding the Broadway stage. He said a big opportunity came his way as a teen and his dad told him to turn it down, but instead, he moved out. Luckily, his dad showed up backstage at his Broadway show to say he was proud of him.
New visual clues included a game console, a TV with M (like for a Mature rating) on it. Nick was doused with a cooler of orange balls, dumped on him by DeSean Jackson. The clue was oranges, which S'More explained, "I've tasted victory before and it's so sweet. I hope to do so again here at The Masked Singer."
In his first clue package he talked about being cheered on by millions, being a household name, making headlines with his "fellow adventures and idols." He said he became a heartthrob in a matter of weeks from virtual obscurity. Images included a deep dish pizza and soda.
S'More said his life has always been about blazing his own trail and he's hoping to recapture some of that here. Other images included a Christmas tree with silver ornaments on it and an angel on top. His first on-stage clue was a film reel that read, "Starring S'More." He said not-so-humbly," As you can tell I'm very talented on and off stage."
Nicole took the oranges all the way to Orlando, Florida, which is where *NSYNC got their start. The panel was on boy bands last week and they're still there. She was thinking maybe JC Chasez, with the M on the TV for MTV.
Robin, though, took the game console to "Quit Playing Games With My Heart," with Backstreet Boys' Kevin Richardson, who also starred in Chicago on Broadway. Ken strayed from boy bands to Shang-Chi star Simu Liu, taking the MTV to his two MTV Movie Awards nominations, but without much more to back it up.
Kevin Richardson was a popular guess, but Justin Guarini still has some support, too, while there were some who were more determined to make sure that everyone knew there's no way it could be JC Chasez. Unless it is. One name that's growing in consensus, though, is Ashley Parker Angel.
("Pinball Wizard," The Who)Pickle is definitely not a singer, but he's got a lot of personality. We loved how he tweaked the lyrics to "pickle" them up a bit. This is someone who's very confident in who he is, and a bona fide entertainer. He was extremely comfortable up there bringing the fun to the crowd. He surprised us a bit toward the end with pretty solid pitch. His musical issues were more to do with timing.
Guesses: Before he started singing, we were definitely thinking Howard Stern based on the clue package, suggesting a bad boy and showing a microphone and headset like a radio deejay would use. But the voice wasn't coming across like Stern at all.
Nevertheless, he said that his school teachers thought of him as a "hyper, disruptive kid who had no interest in anything but sports," dismissing him as a "bad boy with no future." He admitted that it wasn't until he found his passion that he became laser-focused.
He then managed to achieve massive success in it, saying he'd rubbed elbows with some greats, name-dropping Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scoreses, and Martin Short. At this point, the vibes are all still feeling very radio deejay known for conducting meaningful interviews.
Other images included a joker card taped to a locker and a balloon arch, as well as shots of him spray painting on the walls. His on-stage clue came from the players in the VIP lounge woh revealed an "On Air" sign, again pointing to radio. "When I speak, people listen," Pickle. Are you listening, Ken? Kenny, are you listening? I get paid a lot to talk, so pay attention, Kenny."
When Nicole joked that he must know Ken, he added, "Oh I know each and every one of you, just a little bit different. And I'm bringing that BDE, that big dill energy, what? Just like Nick, that BPE, that big pickle energy!" That came with a fanny smack, leading Nick to wonder, "How many times am I gonna get assaulted?"
Robin was definitely thinking talk show or podcast host, throwing out Craig Kilborn or perhaps Dax Shepard. Jenny thought, though, maybe it was Conan O'Brien as Pickel appears to be tall. Ken, though, wondered also about Howard Stern, as he and Nick did work together on America's Got Talent.
Online guesses saw Michael Rapaport coming up more than a few times, with many saying they could hear the distinctive cadence of his voice, and pointing out that he has a podcast. There were some other guesses out there, but Rapaport was quickly overtaking them all.
As entertaining as Pickle was, if we're going based on pure vocal talent, he definitely fell to the bottom of this crew. Diver recovered admirably from a shaky first week to bring a pretty solid vocal. Pickle had some moments, but this was more about sheer entertainment for him than trying to drop a vocal worthy of a hit record.
But it's not always about vocal talent alone. Gazelle transcended her own first week performance, while Cown and S'More impressed yet again, so we found ourselves again looking at Diver and Pickle. If it were solely up to us, we'd probably go with Pickle, just because there were more shaky moments in his performance than what Diver brought this week.
Did the panel and studio audience agree with us, or were they looking for something different in their choice? Apparently, they were thinking along the same lines as us, but found themselves more entertained by Pickle than Diver, sending the "hated" contestant to the third unmasking of the season.
Robin Thicke: Pauly D
Jenny McCarthy: Tom Sandoval
Ken Jeong: Tom Sandoval
Nicole Scherzinger: Pauly D
Jenny surprised herself by backing Ken's guess while also pointing out that if they get this one right, Ken will be two for two on the season -- which has to be one of the first signs of the apocalypse, right? Does he have a win streak? If so, how long can he keep it up?
It looks like your bad boy from reality television has been making the rounds after a tumultuous year, appearing on the new season of Fox's Special Forces: World's Toughest Test and now The Masked Singer. Tom Sandoval was definitely trying to distract himself from all the craziness he brought on himself.
"This was fun," Sandoval said. "Being able to come out here, perform, behind a mask, not being judged, being judged on my performance, it was really nice." He also said he knew he was getting guessed right away, with Ken dubbing Season 10, "Season Ken."
Jenny asked him if it was difficult coming onto this show with all the hate that's coming his way. "Yeah, it was," he admitted. "But it was nice. I felt protected under the mask," saying he was honored to be among all these talented people.
The Masked Singer continues next Wednesday with "2000s Night" at 8pm ET on Fox.