This Wednesday on The Masked Singer, another Beverly Hills, 90210 star was revealed, following Tori “The Unicorn” Spelling’s memorable de-horning in Season 1. And it was a moment more surreal than that time the Flaming Lips played the Peach Pit After Dark, and at least as musically credible as a David Silver DJ set at the Beverly Hills Beach Club.
So, before Wednesday night, right up until the moment of the Giraffe’s unmasking, I had stuck my own neck out, so to speak, and had enthusiastically and emphatically insisted that the Giraffe was Motley Crüe’s Tommy Lee. Judge Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg thought it was another rock ‘n’ roll drummer, Blink-182’s Travis Barker. Both seemed like solid guesses at the time, but it turned out the Giraffe was the Artist Formerly Known as David Silver and Tori’s onscreen love interest: actor and occasional rapper Brian Austin Green.
Guest judge Joel McHale was the closest to getting this one right, guessing Jason Priestly, but no one saw this reveal coming — not even Robin Thicke, who apparently used to be in a pre-90210 tween hip-hop duo with Brian called Think Twice that Masked Singer host Nick Cannon called “the white Kris Kross.” (That short-lived musical project was probably no better or worse than Brian’s one studio album, 1996’s Pharcyde-produced One Stop Carnival, which AllMusic critic Jason Ankeny once described as “pallid, uninspired, and insufferably arrogant.” Wow, the things I learn on The Masked Singer! This show is edutainment at its finest!)
“We were best friends as teenagers. I used to go to the 90210 set with him all the time. I love you. I can't believe that's you,” Robin exclaimed, before jumping onstage to duet with Brian, giving us that impromptu Think Twice reunion we’d all been clamoring for.
I won’t stick my neck out again and predict that Brian’s brief Masked Singer run will reboot his music career, and I can’t ignore the unfortunate, ironic timing that Brian was eliminated the same week that his ex Megan Fox’s new boyfriend, Machine Gun Kelly, has the No. 1 album in the country. Ouch. (Incidentally, Machine Gun Kelly did a fantastic job playing Tommy Lee in the biopic The Dirt, so I guess everything’s connected in some way after all.) But Brian was a lot of fun during this week’s “Get Down on It” and his previous “Let’s Get It Started” performance — not pallid, uninspired, or insufferably arrogant in any way! So, if Brian Austin Green/David Silver/The Giraffe ever wants to get down on it and get it started with a special one-off performance at a ‘90s rave, I will exchange an egg and attend. To very loosely paraphrase Steve Sanders’s baffled but delighted reaction to the Flaming Lips back in 1995: You know, I’ve never been a big fan of novelty TV rap music, but the Giraffe rocked the house!
Group B will be back next Wednesday, so we will have to wait a few more weeks to meet Group C, which will include the Broccoli (who totally should do Dana Carvey’s “Choppin’ Broccoli” song from SNL), the Jellyfish (who better cover the entirety of Spilt Milk), the bipedal Lips (who seriously needs to sing some actual Flaming Lips), and the Mushroom, which I assume will be of the psilocybin variety, because this show is trippy as hell. In the meantime, after watching the surviving Group A contestants perform again, I’m honing my guesses — something I apparently really need to work on, after getting the Giraffe so very, very wrong. Let’s review the clues:
The Popcorn, “Falling”
There was nothing corny or cheesy about the Popcorn’s spectacular interpretation of Harry Styles’s weepy Fine Line breakup ballad. But it sure was seasoned! This was an exquisite vocal, clearly the work of a professional diva who knows how to get it poppin’. All of the judges gave her a standing ovation, with Robin raving, “The beauty of this show is they can’t show you their emotions with their face, so you have to hear it in the voice. All the emotion, all the quivering, the power, the strength, the vulnerability, all came through in that performance. Outstanding, gorgeous!”
The clues: The Popcorn was “not always a healthy snack,” as she suffered from “severe anxiety” and a “bizarre condition” when she was younger that put her in an “emotional prison.” Other clues were a hair crimper, a Rubik’s Cube (implying that this is an ‘80s star), a rainbow flag, and soap operas.
Judges’ guesses: Gloria Gaynor, Katy Perry, Tina Turner, Vanessa Williams.
My guess: The clues from the Popcorn’s season premiere performance (hoop earrings, “puff,” a “Proud Merry-Go-‘Round”) had me thinking this was Mary J. Blige. And some of this week’s clues line up with that guess: The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul has been very open about her mental health struggles, and her hit “No More Drama” sampled the Young and the Restless soap theme, for instance. But the internet has believed this was Taylor Dayne all along. Taylor has battled anxiety, agoraphobia, and bulimia; is a lady of the ‘80s and a fierce LGBTQ+ ally; and has been known to rock some seriously crimped hair. But most importantly, the Popcorn sounds a lot like her. So, all of these new clues are telling it to my heart: the Popcorn is indeed Taylor.
The Snow Owls, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”
Despite the fact that these two were dressed like giant winged creatures of the night and were hatching out of a Bedazzler’d whitechocolatespaceegg (that’s a Liz Phair reference I tossed in, for no reason), this still seemed like a CMA Awards performance. Their vocal interplay was effortless and heavenly, so whether the Snow Owls are a real-life romantic couple, blood relatives, or a professional musical duo, it’s obvious that they’ve been singing together for years. This was a performance to really give a hoot about!
The clues: We saw a witch’s hat, the letter D, an anchor, and a basketball with the initials “DAL” printed on it, plus verbal mentions of an “avalanche of emotions,” a “tip of our hats,” a “knight in shining armor,” and the famous Waterboy line “You can do it!” Combine those with the previous clues about pearls, roses, and Christmas, and that’s a lot to process.
Judges’ guesses: Rob Schneider & Elle King, Will Farrell & Rachel McAdams, Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, Keith Urban & Nicole Kidman.
My guesses: OK, I’m not going to lie — this one is really stumping me. Whoooooooo is it? The first time the Owls took flight this season, I was convinced that Donny “The Peacock” Osmond from Season 1 had returned to the Masked Singer nest in another sort of feathered form, this time with sister Marie. But this week, when the male Snow Owl revealed that his duet partner had helped him through a “messy breakup” and had stood by him despite “backlash from the community,” I ruled out that possibility, because Donny has been with his wife since 1978 (and I don’t think his pre-marriage hit “Puppy Love” was about anything too messy). So, that “breakup” mention, along with a line about “low places,” might mean that the Owls are Garth and Trisha. But that’s unlikely, because on their previous episode, the Owls said they hadn’t been seen together “in a while” and that this was a “family reunion.” Plus, Garth stopped cosplaying after that Chris Gaines era didn’t work out. If this is a country couple, it might be Clint Black (who has recorded Christmas albums) and his wife Lisa Hartman (star of the Bewitched spinoff sitcom Tabitha), who have a daughter named Pearl. Or, it could still be Donny & Marie. Marie was an anchor on The Talk, and the messy breakup/community backlash storyline could refer to Donny’s rumored estrangement from the rest of the Osmond family. (Sheesh, figuring out the identity just one secret celebrity is hard enough, but two? One of them could be Liz Phair, for all I know.)
The Sun, “Praying”
The Sun really burned up the stage this week with her fiery rendition of Kesha’s heart-on-sequined-sleeve power ballad. Judge Nicole Scherzinger declared this her favorite female vocal performance in Masked Singer history, or herstory, confessing, “I was tearing up!” Between the Popcorn, the Sun, and Group B’s Seahorse, the mystery girls are really bringing it this season.
The clues: She “missed out on a lot of her childhood growing up in fractured home,” and is a “wiz at cooking up tasty treats” and “burning ugly rumors.” References to “dirty feet” and “walk the line” suggested that she’s a country star.
Judges’ guesses: Anna Kendrick, Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Mandy Moore, Demi Lovato, Katharine McPhee, Carrie Underwood.
My guess: Some of the clues last time — about child stardom, career burnout, depression struggles, and a current Zenned-out, new-agey lifestyle — initially made me speculate that the Sun is actress-turned-singer-turned-Goop guru Gwyneth Paltrow. But now it’s as clear as a sunny day that this golden-throated goddess is “The Only Mama That'll Walk the Line” singer LeAnn Rimes. (If only she’d been dressed as the Ugly Coyote instead of the Sun, I would’ve figured this out much sooner!) A recently resurfaced YouTube video of LeAnn singing Lizzo’s “‘Cuz I Love You” on her tour bus sounds exactly like the Sun’s performance of that hip-pop banger on The Masked Singer Season 4 premiere, and a redemption song like this week’s “Praying” was just the sort of empowerment anthem that a rumor-mill survivor like LeAnn could latch onto.
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