The Masked Singer judges were shocked Wednesday when, during the Season 6 Group A semifinals, wild-card contestant the Hamster quite smoothly crooned Luis Miguel’s “Sabor a Mí” in Spanish. Judge Robin Thicke called the sweet performance “easily one of the most charming things I’ve seen in my entire life,” and the panel even thought that Marc Anthony or a member of the Iglesias family might be inside that furry, roly-poly costume.
Instead, this rodent turned out to be former Saturday Night Live cast member Rob Schneider, who’d dedicated his performance to his wife Patricia and daughters Miranda, Madeline, and Elle – the latter being successful singer-songwriter Elle King. Maybe Elle inherited some of her singing skills from Rob after all.
“Rob, I'm gonna say you were absolutely phenomenal on this show,” said reigning and two-time Golden Ear winner Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, the only judge who guessed this one correctly. Schneider remained humble, telling the panel with a shrug, “Thank you. I'm tired of competing against a Bull who can do the splits. That's pretty impressive. I saw that and I said, ‘I'm gonna take my nut bag and get out of here.’ … I was backstage and I was so nervous, and I go, ‘Why am I this nervous? I'm dressed as a hamster!’ Still, the comic described his brief Masked Singer run as “one of the best experiences I've ever had.”
Well, as one wild card exited the show, another, perhaps the wildest one yet — the Jester — entered the competition to really shake things up. Let’s check out his performance along with the other Group A contestants, and keep the Season 6 guessing game going.
The Bull, “To Make You Feel My Love”
This beefy contestant continued to take the competition by the horns with another stellar, powerful vocal, perhaps his best of the season. “You stripped it all back and you said, ‘I’m going to let my voice, my heart, and my soul speak for itself.’ Thank you so much for letting us in,” gushed Nicole.
The clues: Before he was famous, the Bull left his stable job to chase his dreams in a faraway city, where he ended up living in a cockroach-infested flophouse apartment. We also saw comedy/tragedy theatrical masks, an old-school MacIntosh computer, and a framed photo of Hall& Oates. Past clues have mentioned “house parties,” Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, a “small town surrounded by cows,” and Forbesmagazine. He’s also said that his “secret weapon” is dancing, although he didn’t bust on any moves during this week’s plaintive ballad.
Judges’ guesses: Taye Diggs, Cheyenne Jackson, Lil Nas X.
My guess: I still think this is small-town Texan, Disney obsessive, dynamite dancer, and Forbes“30 Under 30” honoree Todrick Hall, who moved to Hollywood shortly before competing on American Idol in 2010. (Hall! Get it?) Todrick has starred in Broadway productions (Kinky Boots, Chicago), and his last concert trek was called the “Haus Party Tour.” Nicole must be playing dumb; surely she recognizes her friend Todrick’s voice from when she costarred in his musical film Straight Outta Oz, right?
The Pepper, “No Tears Left to Cry”
There’s no doubt that the Pepper is pop star in her own right, judging by how well she handled this operatic Ariana Grande banger. “That is legit!” cried out Jenny. “Outstanding in every way!” raved Ken. And Robin described this peppy, red-hot performer as “fearless, confident, and born to be onstage.”
The clues: When he first hit it big, she was pulled in a million directions, caught up in the whirlwind of her sudden success, and she didn’t fully appreciate it at the time. We also saw a lot of gold trophies, a vintage iPod, and a good-luck video message from Courteney Cox. In a past clues package the Pepper has mentioned going viral in 2020, and we’ve seen roller skates, TikTok references, and a reconfigured Hollywood Sign spelling out “Chiliwood.”
Judges’ guesses: Pink, Idina Menzel, Natalie Imbruglia, Ellie Goulding.
My guess: I am more certain than ever, after hearing the Pepper’s distinctive, languid British accent, that this is multiple Grammy nominee and Courteney pal Natasha Bedingfield, whose career exploded in the aughts’ iPod age with "Unwritten," a song that had a resurgence on TikTok this year. That Chiliwood sign was likely a nod to The Hills, and Natasha's 2019 comeback album was titled Roll With Me and featured the track "Roller Skate." And so, it is written: The Pepper is Natasha.
The Skunk, “Square Biz”
The fun and funky Skunk’s Teena Marie cover was declared “epic” by Jenny, and Ken told her, “You’re always crushing it, always killing it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.”
The clues: Her life’s biggest regret was when she let her pride stop her from saying hello to a loved one — and she never got a chance to see or embrace that person again. “That one hug could have changed the course of history,” she sighed. Other clues this week included a 1994 pager with the number “607” (code for “I Miss You”) and “dreamgirl.” Past clues have referenced a glamorous lifestyle that she left behind for a “simpler and more positive life,” an “empire,” a boombox, gospel music, a career hiatus, a reputation for being volatile, and giving up a college scholarship to become a mother.
Judges’ guesses: Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, Faith Evans.
My guess: Finally Robin, who guessed Faith Evans, caught on to what I (and almost everyone on Twitter) knew all along. This absolutely is Faith. She split from the Notorious B.I.G. in 1994, and he died in 1997 before she could say goodbye; later she sang on Diddy’s Biggie tribute song, “I’ll Be Missing You.” She also attended Fordham University on a scholarship, but dropped out after a year to have her daughter. Also, she takes years off between albums and hasn’t released a full studio LP since 2014; she once had a bad rep due to her peripheral involvement the 1990s’ East Coast/West Coast hip-hop feud; she once guest-judged an Empire-themed episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race; and she has roots in gospel. Plus, the Skunk sounds a lotlike her. I have total faith that this is Faith.
The Jester, “School’s Out”
This clown prince, Season 6’s latest and weirdest wild card, was perhaps the scariest character in Masked Singer history — some sort of knockoff of the Nip/Tuck Carver that had Nicole whimpering, “That’s a little disturbing!” and Ken exclaiming, “I can’t unsee this!” Welcome to his nightmare indeed. But his roaring, screeching Alice Cooper cover was good scary fun, just in time for Halloween. “We have never had pure metal like that on this show. That was awesome!” howled Robin, jumping up on his desk.
The clues: He’s a self-described icon that “changed the course of history” and was supposedly voted one of the “100 influential people of all time.” But he’s also a “scoundrel” who has “offended head of states” and been “banned from famous venues.” His visual clue was a plaid sports jacket, which he described as “pure style.”
Judges’ guesses: Dee Snider, Russell Brand, Ricky Gervais, Roger Daltrey.
My guess: I agree with the judges that the Jester rocks hard and is probably British. Based on the clues — the influence, the infamy, the plaid — I'm going with John Lydon, a.k.a. the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten. Hey, if he'd do a butter commercial for a paycheck, he'd surely do The Masked Singer, right? This just might be The Great Masked Singer Swindle.
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