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When the Masked Dancer Super Six (the semifinalists from Groups A and B) competed together for the first time this Wednesday, the Hammerhead was out for blood. But he just couldn’t outdance more advanced bipedal hoofers like the Tulip, Cotton Candy and Sloth. Apparently this shark-boy is better at going to the gym, tanning, and doing laundry than he is at Latin ballroom, so his dance skills didn’t quite translate beyond the Karma dance floor.
So, in case you haven’t figured it out, the Hammerhead was revealed to be a resident of Jersey Shore. But only the judging panel’s resident vibeologist, Paula Abdul, guessed that this kooky character was the MTV reality show’s arguably tamest cast member, Vinny Guadagnino; everyone else thought it was Pauly D or the Situation. (Interestingly, no one guessed that the Hammerhead was “juicehead” Ronnie Ortiz-Magro.)
It seems Paula was paying extra-special attention to this season’s clues: the Hammerhead’s talk-show background, his love of painting, his boyhood dream of becoming a lawyer, etc. Maybe she was the only Masked Dancer judge who actually saw Vinny plays a character named Joe Conte in a B-movie called Jersey Shore Shark Attack. Or, maybe she was the only judge who saw Vinny shake his stuff in that Vegas Chippendales revue a couple years ago. Whatever the reason, Paula is clearly the MVP of this panel — even if she changed her Hammerhead guess this Wednesday to David Dobrik.
Sorry, Vinny. Cabs are here, and it’s your time to go. It’s also T-shirt time, apparently, because you won’t be needing that sinewy shark outfit anymore. But let’s assess the five remaining mystery celebrity contestants, and figure out which one is most fist-pump-worthy:
The Cotton Candy
This fun and fearless swing-dance partner routine, complete with a cute bumper-car grand entrance, was bursting with high energy, high confidence, and Rockettes-style high kicks. Her well-executed stage moves, which also included some gravity-defying lifts and a seemingly double-jointed backbend, once again indicated that this candy-girl is a trained professional (a dancer, an athlete, or both). “You brought your A-game. You define what The Masked Dancer is all about,” declared judge Ken Jeong.
The clues: She’s “no stranger to competition,” even if some “haters” in her past have claimed that she can’t dance. Visual clues included five rings and five golden balloons. Responding to the judges’ new “Rapid Fire” questioning round, the Cotton Candy confessed that ice “plays a role” in her life, that she has “lots of tights” at home, and she can’t do her day job in heels. In past episodes, she revealed that she was “iced out” of normal childhood activities and is a “team player.”
Judges’ guesses: Tara Lipinski, Jennifer Lopez, Kristi Yamaguchi, Gabby Butler, Jenna Dewan, Simone Biles.
My guess: With all of the Olympian and icy clues we’ve been getting week after week, I have to stick with my hunch that this is Tara Lipinski. She’s really going for the gold this season; those haters who once criticized her dancing skills can take several seats.
The Exotic Bird
This beautiful creature took her sweet time, savoring every moment of her sexy dance to Lewis Capaldi and Jessie Reyez’s “Rush,” seeming more committed and more comfortable in her (feathered) skin than ever before. Paula “picked up on a sense of confidence” not seen in the Bird’s previous routines, and judge Brian Austin Green told her, “I think you are more of dancer than you think you are.” And just like that, even more naysaying haters were effectively silenced (the Exotic Bird was also ridiculed for her supposedly subpar dancing in the past).
The clues: Her life has changed since she “became a mama bird,” but she has rediscovered her “sultry side” while competing in disguise. This week’s big visual clue was a rose tattoo, and the Bird revealed that has modeled and starred in music videos and ad campaigns. Previous episodes’ clues packages have mentioned past illnesses, football, all-American apple pie, teen stardom, finding it “hard to breathe,” the numbers 1 and 17, glitter, perfume, a “Best by ’07” expiration date, and being teased for being a “big bird.”
Judges’ guesses: Kat Von D, Dita Von Teese, Amber Rose, Ashley Graham, Kate Upton.
My guess: I am completely confident that this is Paula’s old American Idol pal, Season 6 champion Jordin Sparks. Jordin is a relatively new mom; is the daughter of NFL star Phillippi Sparks; was 17 when she won Idol in ’07; was in the movie Sparkle (hence the glitter); has her own fragrance line; is a 5-foot-10 former plus-sized model; had a No. 1 hit with “No Air” (hence the “hard to breathe” clue); and has battled a vocal cord hemorrhage and acute appendicitis. Her recent single “Red Sangria” was her sultriest dance track yet, and if all that wasn’t enough to go on, her very first single was called… wait for it... “Tattoo.”
This “classic Hollywood jazz number” to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” really kicked things up a notch. The Sloth exhibited the flexibility and agility of a youngster, but had the swag and elegance of an old-school entertainer. There was also his usual self-deprecating aging-vaudevillian shtick, as he dramatically pretended to be nursing two bad knees. “There’s so much Broadway showmanship on the stage,” marveled Paula.
The clues: He’s “not new to the dance floor,” is family-oriented, and his family isn’t in Los Angeles (where this show is taped). Other clues this Wednesday included 18 stars and elephants, while past clues have included sporting gear, a Say Anything-style boombox, a cruise ship, Glee, Disney, and the phrases “bad boy,” “took a chance and jumped,” and “leading man.”
Judges’ guesses: Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen.
My guess: This one really has me stumped; I’ve previously guessed American Idol-contestant-turned-YouTube star Todrick Hall and legendary Van Halen singer David Lee Roth. The Sloth’s hammy personality, physical comedy, and Catskills skills totally give me Diamond Dave vibes, but the dance skills are more Todrick-esque. I’d really love for the Sloth to be Roth (hey, that rhymes!), but I will stick with Disney fanatic and former cruise ship dancer Todrick for now.
The flower-girl went “back to some of first dancing she ever learned,” ballet, with this graceful, Ariana Grande-soundtracked routine. “I saw ballet training. … You’re a born performer,” said Paula. “You just brought the stakes up even higher,” raved judge Ashley Tisdale. I agree. While the Sloth may place a respectable third, I think it’s going to ultimately come down to the Tulip vs. the Cotton Candy in the finals. They are the obvious Super Two.
The clues: She really “never enjoyed competing,” but being on The Masked Dancer has made her “fall in love with performing again.” Key visual clues were a “Masked Dancergram” account (indicating she is a young social media maven) and a “Second Annual Mother-Daughter Dance.” Past clues have included chalk, flower crowns, the acronym “ALDC,” TikTok, acrobatics, Wicked, and the words “frozen” and “princess.”
Judges’ guesses: Sarah Hyland, Simone Biles (again?), Julianne Hough.
My guesses: After watching the Tulip blossom onstage three times now, I am feeling fairly secure in my guess that she’s an acrobatic alumnus of Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Dance Company (“ALDC”). This is probably Mackenzie Ziegler, who starred in the movie Ice Princess Lily and as Dorothy in the holiday pantomime Wonderful Winter of Oz, and has 15 million Instagram followers and almost 20 million on TikTok.
Doing his second Latin routine of the season to “Mi Gente” by J Balvin and Willy William, this striped star was clearly in his element, displaying — as guest judge Whitney Cummings noted — “a comfort onstage that can’t be faked.” Brian observed that the Zebra’s “amazing footwork” was the mark of a pro boxer.
The clues: He’s “known for a hook,” has acted, and has performed music, and the key visual clues this week were “K.O.” and a graham cracker followed by the letter E (as in “Grammy”). Past clues have included a sports medal, cinnamon, charitable endeavors, the word “champion,” and a mention of the Zebra being a “Z.E.O.”
Judges’ guesses: LL Cool J, Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather.
My guess: Last week I guessed Mayweather, but the Grammy clue this week sealed the deal for me: Now I know it’s De La Hoya. Believe it or not, Oscar De La Hoya’s self-titled Latin pop album in 2000, which had songs written by Diane Warren and the Bee Gees, was nominated for a Grammy Award. No wonder Oscar is so at ease doing Latin dancing on this show.
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