The Masked Singer is the most bonkers TV talent show since Puttin’ on the Hits, a show that opens every week with Nick Cannon hollering, “Time to get weeeeeeird!” as he emerges from the gaping mouth of a wall-sized Mr. Roboto/Hanacare mask while dressed like Morris Day attending an Eyes Wide Shut-themed masquerade ball. And that’s the most normal part of every episode! But there have been some unexpectedly serious and touching moments — like last season, when Ricki “The Raven” honored her late ex-husband and Tori Spelling overcame her insecurities by transforming into the majestic Unicorn. And Season 2’s tear-jerking moment occurred on Wednesday’s Very Special Episode of The Masked Singer, courtesy of the Butterfly — who emerged from her figurative cocoon as beleaguered former/occasional Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams.
Williams has obviously performed on much bigger stages — most recently as part of the surprise Destiny’s Child reunions at Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime show and last year’s “Beychella” extravaganza — and she has performed in House of Dereon stage-wear perhaps even glitzier than the Butterfly’s Aeon Fluxian costuming. But she’s had a tough year. No long after appearing at Coachella 2018, Williams fell into a deep, suicidal depression which led her to check into a mental-health treatment facility, and she’s stayed out of the public eye ever since. The Masked Singer marked her returned to the stage -- even if most people, other than successful guesser Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, didn’t know it was her until she removed her bug-eyed headpiece this week.
“I have not worked all year, so this was a way to come back strong,” Williams told the judges, sincerely thanking the show for helping her tackle her self-doubt (which has likely been stoked by all those #PoorMichelle memes and Tumblr).
“Thank you for taking the chance and being so brave and bold to come on our show,” said misty-eyed judge Nicole Scherzinger, whose own girl group, the Pussycat Dolls, just reunited. “That’s going to inspire so many people out there who maybe have had some of the same struggles that you have had. I pray that this show is a real new beginning for you.”
I’m not sure if this show was the most credible way for Williams to relaunch her career, especially since she only placed seventh… and well, she was dressed as giant insect and lost out to a basketball player. But hey, a legend like Patti LaBelle placed eighth (!!!), so there’s no shame in this game. Even the pre-Michelle Destiny’s Child lost on Star Search once.
If Michelle had competed last season on The Masked Singer, she probably would have made it to the finale, but this season has a stronger crop of singers (no dead-weight contestants like Tommy “The Pineapple” Chong or Antonio “The Hippo” Brown this time around). Sure, it’s understandable that Williams lost in her first face-off of this Wednesday to the Fox — who is probably Ray Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx, and whose “Tennessee Whiskey” was declared the best performance in the series’ history by guest judge Joel McHale. (Conversely, McHale described Williams’s “Sorry Not Sorry” as merely “the best performance I’ve ever seen by someone dressed as a bug.”) But Williams’s fiery second performance, of Imagine Dragons’ fight song “Believer,” should have totally beat out the Thingamajig’s more playful, throwaway Usher cover. I think the Butterfly wanted this more.
Oh well. I won’t make #PoorMichelle trend again, because Williams genuinely seemed happy to be on this show, belting Demi Lovato bangers. And besides, she could always start a Destiny’s Child/Gemini’s Twin supergroup with Ana Gasteyer, who is most definitely the Tree.
And with that, let’s continue with what Nick Cannon calls “the greatest guessing game in the known and unknown universe.”