YOUR SPARKLE IS DISTRACTING (THE MASKED SINGER RECAP)
Once upon a time: a bored suburbanite (you know, me) sat on her couch watching a Bob’s Burgers commercial break. Suddenly, Fox started showing a commercial for a show with a life-size singing peacock. And lion. And rabbit. There were backup dancers, too!
The suburbanite’s jaw dropped. “WHAT?” she repeated as every frame of the commercial registered as more and more ridiculous in her soul. What looked to be a dinner theatre musical reboot of Eyes Wide Shut is actually The Masked Singer, the American version of a Korean reality show where twelve celebs sing while clad in a head-to-toe costume obscuring their face and distorting their speaking voice.
A panel in the back of the auditorium is led by Robin Thicke (one-hit wonder / Alan Thicke’s son), Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg (resident of St. Charles / 90’s sexpot), Ken Jeong (funny guy from Community / The Hangover) and Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls / reality show panelist). They will try to figure out who the hell these people are by their voices as well as vague AF clues dropped along the way. And of course, the worst singer is de-masked and sent home each week.
More about that later. First, we hear from Mariah Carey’s ex-husband as the show opens. “The Masked Singer isn’t a ‘whodunit?’,” an exhausted looking Nick Cannon tells the audience. “It’s a ‘who sung it?’” Nick’s hairdo is reminiscent of Kelsey Grammer’s as he tells us what this is all about. He assures us he has no idea who these people are and floats the idea that Mariah may be one of them, to the audience’s delight.
After Nick introduces the panel, he runs down the card for tonight’s matches: Peacock vs. Hippo, Monster vs. Unicorn, and Deer vs. Lion.
The first face-off is between Peacock and Hippo. Peacock’s walk-up music is Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic.” Peacock is wearing what peacocks would wear if they were late-in-life Elvis impersonators. The creature walks to the stage through the mouth of a giant Comedy/Tragedy mask. He is followed by two bodyguard looking types. The screen tells us Peacock is 5’9” and his weakness is craving attention.
Our panel freaks out. “Look at THE PLUME,” Ken Jeong says. Nicole Scherzinger thinks it may be figure skater Johnny Weir “because his outfit is so extra?” “Good thought, good thought,” Ken reassures her.
“Release! The HIPPO,” Nick then commands. Foreboding hip-hop music thuds through the auditorium and out comes Hippo, looking like the lost member of a Run DMC tribute group. The chyrons tell us he’s 5’10” and his strength is unpredictability. He tries to dance along to the music. So does our panel. Cringe! Ken notices he’s a tall, thin hippo. Good eye, Ken, good eye.
Nick explains that each creature will have a video package of clues. Peacock is up first. “When I was 5 years old, I walked on a stage for the first time,” Peacock’s disembodied voice says. Putting on a show is in his DNA, but it’s probably been a while since our moms had a poster of him on their bedroom walls, he says. During all of this, he’s playing a piano and throwing around some cards, which is giving Nicole some Vegas vibes and letting her know it’s totally not Johnny Weir. Peacock shouts out his friend Michael Jackson while petting a toy dog and says he’ll be back in the spotlight.
Peacock sings “The Greatest Showman” by Hugh Jackman. “Gosh, I know that voice,” Robin says. “He’s a performer,” Nicole says.
The panel loves Peacock’s voice (and Ken loves his outfit,) but is stumped. “Could it be Hugh Jackman?” Jenny asks. “Hugh Jackman’s like 6’5”,” Robin says. Vegas is brought up again. Nicole asks if Peacock is part of Siegfried and Roy. “I’ve never been mauled by a tiger,” Peacock says, “but I have been part of a magic act.” Nicole’s jaw drops. Ken and Nicole think it could be Teller of Penn and Teller. As they go to commercial, Jenny says, “If Liberace were alive, I’d think it was him.”
And we’re back. Nick introduces the Hippo’s clue package. He sits in a diner. “It could be someone from the fifties,” Jenny says. We see a big stack of pancakes. “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a competitor like me,” Hippo says. Then he’s dancing with some bodyguard backup dancers. “Every time I win, I’ve just got to dance - even if it gets me in trouble,” Hippo says. This gets the panel thinking he’s an athlete.
A bill is delivered for $10,000 and Hippo’s ready to sing Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative.” The panel pretty quickly figures that the Hippo is an athlete - his creaky voice gives it away. Robin tells Jenny “Hippo’s moving his legs like he’s under 30,” which gets a laugh from her.
Nick goes to the panel. Robin says it looked to him like Hippo does a lot of end zone dancing, so he must be Odell Beckham Jr. from the New York Giants. Ken and Jenny think it’s NFL great Deion Sanders. Nicole asks if he’s a basketball player, because she thinks it’s Philadelphia 76ers player Allen Iverson. Hippo says, “My favorite pastime is bowling.” The panel is confused, except for Nicole, who says that it might be like the Super Bowl.
As we go to commercial, Nick asks the audience to vote for their preferred creature on their phones. Peacock wins the face-off easily, sending Hippo to the bottom 3.
The next battle is between Monster and Unicorn. Per the chyrons, the Monster is 5’8” and his weakness is being misunderstood. “Look how tall he is,” Robin crows, as the panel grabs binoculars to get a closer look while Monster, wearing the Mike Wazowski costume from 2001’s Pixar film Monsters Inc., takes the stage. The Unicorn (5’6”, biggest strength is being made of magic), comes out to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Jenny thinks she’s gorgeous.
Monster starts his clue package in a cave. “I am the Monster, because that’s what the world labeled me… I was at the top of my game, but the game turned on me. I retreated into my cave to take a break from the public eye,” he says. Ken thinks he’s done some time, which included being banished to a cave. If that’s actually true, the California Department of Corrections is worse off than I thought.
Monster sings “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, and as Ken says, “Wow! Pipes.” Jenny thinks it’s Chris Brown. “This is my favorite one so far,” Ken says, and I agree. The panel hears soul and maturity in his voice. Their guesses include Puff Daddy, rapper Gucci Mane and Justin Bieber. Ken asks Monster if he’s a professional singer. “Not to everyone,” Monster says. “To us you are,” Nicole says. Robin doesn’t have a clue.
Now it’s the Unicorn’s clue package. Piano music begins to play. “Here’s the story of how I became the Unicorn,” she says in a girly voice. She wanted to sing as a little girl, but was told she’s tone deaf. The bullying seemed to continue incessantly, as voices tell the unicorn that her horn is too short and her sparkle is distracting. “I’m not going to listen to them any longer,” she says with determination. “Nobody can tell me who I can or can’t be.”
When they get back to the panel, Nicole insists it’s Meghan Markle. I’m worried she’s serious. Unicorn goes right into Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.” She’s not a professional singer either. Robin agrees with me, but says he likes her energy.
The panel is supportive. Jenny proposes Unicorn could be Paris Hilton or Ireland Baldwin, two women who grew up with wealth and notoriety. “I don’t know who you are at all,” Nicole says. “They call me Bird,” Unicorn says. “Well, it’s not Larry Bird,” Robin says. Unicorn giggles.
When we come back from the break, it’s time to vote. Monster is sent to the bottom 3, which leaves me and the panel in disbelief. Monster waves and walks off the stage. “It’s not right,” Ken says.
Tonight’s final matchup is between Deer and Lion. Deer (6’3”, strength: longevity) comes out and the panel is impressed by his machismo. “That deer is as big as a moose!,” Ken says. “Tough guy, very tough guy,” Jenny says.
Lion (5’6” and noble, natch) walks out to the strains of Heart’s “Barracuda.” “She looks hot!” Jenny says.
The Deer’s clue package is shot in a variety of locales. “I always considered myself a singer. Not sure everyone’s gonna agree with that,” Deer says. “Being under the mask, people will hear my voice.” The panel is thinking someone in wrestling or MMA until Deer says, “Ravens beware! I’m here to win.”
“Could be Pittsburgh Steelers,” Robin says. Deer starts into “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. The Imagine Dragons guy doesn’t have to worry about Deer taking his job anytime soon. “You’re giving me, like, warrior vibes,” Nicole says, “It doesn’t sound like you’re a professional singer but you have really good attitude behind it.”
Robin thinks Deer is Stone Cold Steve Austin. What is it with this panel thinking the icons of yesteryear would be asked onto this show? Jenny thinks it’s MMA celeb Chuck Lidell. After Deer says, “I love horses,” Ken, Robin and Nicole think that it’s Peyton Manning, who retired after quarterbacking with the Denver Broncos. Deer invokes the Fifth Amendment when asked if he’s ever been involved with the NFL. “That’s a big fat yes,” Ken says.
“I’m the Lion and I’m here to roar,” Lion says in her clue package. “Some might say I’m Hollywood royalty, but I’m stepping out on my own.” She spews some platitudes about her true self and showing her vulnerabilities. The panel is awed at her courage.
I’m awed at her voice. Lion comes out swinging as she sings Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Hurt Nobody.” Jenny comes to her feet as dancers pretend to be a horn section behind Lion. Ken says to Jenny, “I think this is the most famous of all the contestants.” “Lady Gaga?” Nicole says. Jenny agrees, but then thinks she might be a part of a girl group. “In my pride, there are lots of women,” Lion says. The panel throws out members of Fifth Harmony or Destiny’s Child.
Nick quickly holds a vote and duh, the Lion wins. They bring out Hippo and Monster for the unmasking vote as the show goes to commercial.
So the panel vote for who has to go home, and Hippo has to lose the mask. Monster and Deer high five. Nick helps Monster (who only has one eye, remember) get off the stage.
Nick asks the panel to recap who they think Hippo is. Nicole says basketball player Allen Iverson. Ken and Jenny swear it’s Deion Sanders. Robin is aghast at such stupidity and says it’s Odell Beckham Jr.
Hippo struggles with the mask as the crowd yells, “Take it off!” and the panel shouts their guesses again. The panel got Hippo’s identity sort of right - Hippo is Pittsburgh Steelers football player Antonio Brown. I am not impressed, but then again, I gave up football a couple of years ago for Lent.
Nick and Antonio do a short interview and Antonio says it was a challenge to stay on beat but he had fun today. Robin points out that we need to see Antonio without his helmet more often and Antonio shows off his washboard abs. Ho-hum. Ken slaps his tummy in response.
“My Prerogative” starts to play as Antonio sings along. Answers to clues flash on the screen. The Hippo ate pancakes because Antonio eats massive breakfasts! He said his favorite pastime is bowling because he has gone to five Pro Bowls and one Super Bowl! You get the picture!
See you next week.