WHO DAT PINEAPPLE? (THE MASKED SINGER RECAP)
No one asked me for my opinion, but Nick Cannon’s transformation into Kelsey Grammer continues in week two of The Masked Singer. The show opens with Nick walking on stage to the Who’s “Who Are You?” He’s wearing pants, a sequined bronze smoking jacket over a black turtleneck AND an unadorned panther mask on his head. As Roger Daltrey hits the last “YOU” of the song, Nick grabs the mask, takes it off, and hands it to the nearest masked backup dancer who holds it like it was Nick’s newborn child, The Lion King-style. Interesting choice.
Nick explains the premise of the show to those of you just tuning in. To recap: twelve celebrities sing recent hit songs in creepy AF head-to-toe costumes. A panel of four other celebrities struggling to stay relevant attempt to figure out who their costumed peers are. “They tell me we are surrounded by Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Hall of Fame players - it could be anybody,” Nick says.
This week the creatures singing in three faceoffs are: Rabbit vs. Alien, Raven vs. Pineapple, and Poodle vs. Bee. Like last week, the singer with the least votes will lose the mask and exit stage right.
Nick introduces the panel of pop culture detectives - singer Robin Thicke, St. Charles resident and former Playboy playmate Jenny McCarthy, comedian Ken Jeong and Pussycat Dolls creator Nicole Scherzinger. The panel mugs, the crowd cheers.
“You guys ready to do this?!” Nick asks to the panel, seemingly seated in the back of the auditorium. “We’re ready, Nick!” Jenny says.
“Release the Rabbit,” Nick commands, and Rabbit (no height listed, strength: quick-footed) walks on stage to Fort Minor’s “Petrified.” He’s flanked by bodyguards whom I predict will be backup dancing in somebody’s clue package tonight.
If you watched last week’s show and were horrified by the costumes, this week’s creatures are even stronger nightmare fuel. The Rabbit’s head twitches as he looks around what I think is the former X Factor stage and he’s wearing a straitjacket. Jenny screeches. The panel have binoculars to focus on the rabbit. “He’s like the Daniel Day-Lewis of bunnies,” Ken says. “He’s tall,” Robin says. “Who is that?” Nicole says. Nicole, that’s why we’re here.
“Let’s welcome a celebrity who’s gotta be out of this world...enter The Alien,” Nick says Alien (we’ve done away with heights, strength: comes in peace) struts on the stage as the Black Eyed Peas play. “WHAT!?” Jenny shouts. “Hubba hubba,” Ken says. “That’s not an alien,” Jenny says, “that’s a totally sexy hot model.” “She looks like a sexy toothbrush,” Ken says. She’s got narrow hips, it’s true. Robin laughs.
The two creatures look at each other, with Nick in the middle. Time for the clues! The Rabbit’s clue package starts out at some sweet pad in Palm Springs. He has spent most of his life on stage, but he was never alone. “That means in a group!” Jenny says. “Now, I pop up here and I pop up there!” Rabbit’s voice over says. Nicole thinks he’s a magician.
“Synchronized singing is my forte,” Rabbit continues. The group realizes he’s in a pop group or maybe a former boy band member. “It’s as if I’ve been training for this my entire life: performed on stage? Check! Performed in a mask? Check!” Rabbit says. Then he says something about half a voice that I couldn’t figure out after rewinding my Tivo a bunch of times. Rabbit thinks he’s going to be the last unmasked singer. Honey, they all think that.
We’re back in the auditorium. Rabbit is crouched and twitching on stage. There’s fire. There’s garbage. There’s skyscraper wreckage in the distance. This is what Donald Trump’s speechwriter imagined when he wrote the “American Carnage” inauguration speech. Nicole hopes Rabbit is okay. She should be worried about the viewers!
The chyron says Rabbit will be singing “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin. I’m feeling some cognitive dissonance about the set and the song choice, and so is the panel and audience as the first verse begins to slowly unfold. Maybe Robin just looks stoned.
As Rabbit gets to the chorus that we all know and love, the twitching disappears and the pop singer takes over. The panel likes him. “Wow, he’s got a voice,” Ken says. “Look at him go!” Jenny says as she dances.
The song ends. The camera cuts to Alien, who turns away from the monitor and gives us what could be a pouty look, if we could see her face. Nick wants the panel to provide the rabbit some props. Jenny makes bunny ears over her head. “I love the way that you took one of the most famous songs and made it your own,” Robin says. Robin also diagnoses Rabbit with a sense of humor.
Nick wonders if the panel picked up on any clues. Jenny brings up the pop talk and thinks Rabbit could have been a member of my eighth grade slow jam provider, Boyz II Men. Robin shuts that down kindly, saying that he didn’t hear those vocal tones, but Rabbit could have been in a boy band and gone on to bigger things. Nicole scrunches up her face in disagreement. In her opinion, Rabbit is magician Criss Angel.
Ken brings up Donnie Darko and its star, Jake Gyllenhaal. Jenny and Robin think it’s an ex-boy band member. Ken starts naming members of N’SYNC, and Robin gives Joey Fatone a shout out. “Joey has a way bigger gut than that bunny,” Jenny says. “I’M FRIENDS WITH HIM!” Nick reminds Jenny that Spanx exist.
Rabbit says that he’s been in a band after Jenny and Robin ask his former band membership. That’s no help to the panel or the viewers at home. “He’s tough to call,” Robin says, as we go to commercial.
When we come back, Nick invites us to have a close encounter with the Alien. The clue package begins with the Alien saying in voiceover, “I’m excited to be here, because in my family, anonymity is a completely alien concept.”
“Ah, famous family,” Robin murmurs. “Growing up in the public eye, my life was never really my own,” she says. Alien basically tells us as she poses around some backgrounds that she’s not going to take her family’s/the public’s shit anymore. The panel writes it all down. “And now, for the first time ever, the world gets to hear my voice, on my terms,” Alien says.
Alien’s singing “Feel It Still” by Portugal, The Man. It’s clear she is not a seasoned performer, but my ears aren’t bleeding. The panel thinks she’s a model. “I’m getting a Bella Hadid vibe,” Robin says. As the song ends, the camera cuts to Rabbit by the monitor. He shrugs, I think.
Nick asks the panel what they thought and Ken goes into Gross Horny Middle-Aged Man mode for a bit. When Jenny tells him to calm down, he points to his ring and says he’s married. They always are.
Robin reminds us that Alien says she’s from a big family. “I have many sisters,” Alien says. Nicole brings up the Kardashians. Ken goes with it and says Alien could be Kourtney Kardashian. “There’s no way,” Jenny says and audience members agree with her.
It’s voting time. Rabbit gets to keep his mask on. He hops off the stage. Nick tells her that she could be unmasked at the end of the night. “Maybe we get to see her beautiful face,” Ken says. “You’d love that, wouldn’t you?” Jenny says. Ken shouts “I LOVE YOU, ALIEN!” and Nicole tells him to calm down as we go to commercial.
Nick’s back on stage for Faceoff #2: Raven vs. Pineapple. Pineapple (weakness: ripens quickly) walks on the stage to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Whatta Man.” Pineapple’s costume is a half-man, half fruit hybrid with the pineapple as headgear and parrot on the shoulder, Hawaiian shirt and six-pack abs as body. Not that scary.
“Release the Raven,” Nick says. My husband wants you to know here that Raven looks like Arthur, the moth from The Tick. While my husband is an intelligent guy, I disagree. Edgar Allen Poe would be proud of the figure walking onto the stage to Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries.” Raven (strength: empathetic) says in her clue package, “All my life, I’ve listened to other people’s stories, so this is my opportunity to share mine.” Robin sees the birdcage around her head and thinks Raven is a wrestler.
The clue package, shot in black and white, proves him wrong. “No one talks more than me,” Raven says. The panel thinks the Raven is a talk show host. Raven says she suffered a tragic loss and doing The Masked Singer gives her the opportunity to honor her beloved. “Becoming the Raven makes me feel like I’ve found beauty in the darkness. Like a phoenix from the ashes, I will rise up and find the light.”
Raven is singing Kesha’s “Rainbow” without the masked backup singers. I’m rooting for her because of her song choice and her bigger choice of trying to find light in the darkness. Meanwhile, Ken still doesn’t know if Raven is a man or a woman. Jenny has goosebumps.
The panel compliments Raven on what Ken calls a sincere performance. Jenny asks Raven if she’s ever hosted a talk show. Raven has. “I THINK I KNOW WHO IT IS!” Jenny shouts out. “I think it’s Sherri Shepherd.” Ken brings up Sally Jessy Raphael or Star Jones. Jenny and Nicole tell him he’s wrong.
Nick introduces Pineapple. His clue package is in a motel parking lot with a pink Mercury from the 50’s with smoke coming from it. Pineapple says, “After beating a life-threatening disease, this OG has decided to take things as they come and never wipe the smile off my face.” As the voiceover says this, Pineapple spanks his own behind. Jenny takes the usage of OG to mean that Pineapple is old, which the voiceover confirms immediately.
“Life is short, man. You gotta seize the day before your dreams go up in smoke,” Pineapple says. As the clue package ends, we see the car speeding away with a “Pipe Dreams” bumper sticker. “This pineapple definitely smokes weed,” Jenny says.
Pineapple sings “I Will Survive” on a beach with non-masked dancers. And if you are of a certain age and been around weed, you know that under Pineapple’s mask is noted marijuana activist and comedian Tommy Chong. The voice distortion does nothing! He’s giggling as a “hurricane” hits the set. “Definitely a professional singer,” Nicole says. The panel laughs. Backstage, Raven shrugs in front of the monitor.
“PANEL! Compliment my pineapple!” Nick says. “I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like this since Burning Man,” Robin says, “but the way you carried yourself was so smooth.” Ken thought Pineapple was going to be a total douchebag, but he’s got a Matthew McConaughey vibe. Because he’s funny, Nicole thinks Adam Sandler. Jenny calls out other famous stoners, like Willie Nelson. Then, she hits on Cheech… or Chong. “Good guess,” Ken says. Barack Obama is bandied about because of the Hawaiian influence. “God Bless the United States of America,” Pineapple says. Nick recaps the panel’s choices and off to commercial we go.
When we come back, Raven and Pineapple are up for a vote. Raven moves on to the next round. “Go take a bird bath,” Nick says. He tells Pineapple he appreciates his swagger and the panel cheers Pineapple on as he walks off the stage.
For the final face off of the night, it’s Poodle vs. Bee. Poodle (strength: highly intelligent) walks out to Kelis’s “Bossy.” “She can move,” Robin says. “Here to create a lot of buzz, enter the bee,” Nick says. Bee (strength: hard worker) comes out to Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow.” and I cringe.
Poodle’s clue package highlights her Bay Area origins. “I come from a musical family, but I’m known for a different kind of talent - 415 stand up! My whole career has been about exercising my right to free speech,” she says in front of a rainbow background. This tells Nicole Poodle is a part of the LGBTQ community and tells me that this is San Francisco native, comedian Margaret Cho.
“Do your thing, Poodle,” Ken says.
The first few notes of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” come on and Nicole says “I LOVE THIS SONG” like she’s with her girls at the local sip and paint store. Nicole then says that because she has a hot body, it could be Jane Fonda. The panel and Nick rock out during the chorus. “She’s got killer energy, man. She’s going for it,” Robin says. “She’s a hot bitch,” Jenny says. Poodle’s voice is kind of thin, though.
The panel is effusive about Poodle’s stage presence. Nicole guesses that Poodle could be RuPaul because of the rainbow in the clue package. “It’s not a bad guess,” Robin says. They go back to the stand up bit of the clue package and Jenny thinks Poodle is comic Ali Wong. Then the panel goes crazy, throwing out names like Richard Simmons and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “I’m here for your honor,” Poodle says, which confuses everyone further.
When we come back from the commercial, Nick’s in the audience to introduce Bee. “In my long career, I’ve flown to soaring heights and I’ve never wanted to stop doing what I love,” Bee says in her voice over. “Either she’s been around for a long time or she’s old,” Jenny says. “You can call me Queen Bee, but Empress also suits me,” Bee says. “Coming on this show, I’m looking forward to singing to a new generation.”
Bee’s song is Sia’s “Chandelier.” When she gets to the first chorus, Robin recognizes the voice. I don’t. “OOH! Someone came to sing!” Jenny says. I agree. Bee has the best voice of the night.
Nick goes to the panel. “What an amazing voice, right?” he says. Robin agrees. “...You have such a grace and beauty about you and your stage presence,” Nicole says. “Thank you so much!” Bee says.
The panel throws out names such as Mary J. Blige, Lil’ Kim and Diana Ross. Nicole asks Bee what decade she started singing. “Fifties,” Bee says softly. That gets the panel to their feet. Jenny yells out “Dionne Warwick!” Robin high-fives Nicole for her good question. “That narrows it down!” Nicole says.
Nick brings us to the face off vote - Bee wins. Poodle joins Pineapple and Alien in the bottom three. “I always feel bad!” Jenny says as she puts in her vote for the singer of her choice.
Nick says the votes are in, and quel surprise, Pineapple got the least votes. He claps his hands. The crowd gets to their feet. Nick asks for the panel’s final answer. “I don’t know,” Nicole whines. Robin thinks Pineapple is Sugar Ray Leonard. Jenny is convinced it’s Cheech Marin or Tommy Chong. But she’s going to go with Cheech.
Ken thinks it’s Jimmy Buffett. “No offense Pineapple, but you can’t sing,” Jenny says. Nicole says it’s Kid Rock.
It’s time for the unmasking. “Who Are You?” starts playing. “Take it off!” the crowd chants. And after several expectant closeups of panel and audience members we see…
Noted marijuana activist and comedian Tommy Chong. Jenny is thrilled at her success.
“You gotta tell us, what would make you do something like put a pineapple on your head and sing ‘I Will Survive’?” Nick asks. “Anything to get on stage,” Tommy says. (A man after my own heart.) Nick asks Tommy what he wants to say to the panel. Tommy points at Jenny and says, “She called me Cheech!” “You’re my favorite one of the group,” Jenny says.
Nick directs Tommy Chong to sing “I Will Survive” as the credits roll.
See you next week.