The Masked Singer has returned to scramble our cerebellums once again — perhaps even more so, because this season’s clues are tougher than ever. But one mystery contestant who got scrambled early on was the Egg, a.k.a. Olympic skater Johnny Weir. The Egg cracked under the pressure, so to speak, and literally had (rhinestone-studded) egg on his face, when Weir became the first celebrity to be voted off the show on Wednesday’s Season 2 premiere.
Weir gave two vivacious performances that went over easy — his sassy Blondie cover was no yolk! — but his chances were quickly fried when he went up against the more vocally soaring Butterfly and the scary-good comic timing of the Skeleton. Well, at least the Egg won’t have to be walking on eggshells trying to keep his identity a secret.
The other contestant to suffer a meltdown on night one was the Ice Cream, a.k.a superstar gamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. (The Masked Singer judges — Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, and Nicole Scherzinger — put the show on an extreme crash diet this week, cutting out the two edible-themed contestants in one go. Food fight!) The Ice Cream’s “Old Town Road” cover was cool, and he really served it during his sweet second performance of Devo’s “Whip It,” but he got iced out when he went up against the Tree’s Christmas sparkle and the Ladybug’s spotless performance. Oh well — at least the Egg and Ice Cream (or Egg Cream, if you’re into Bennifer-style name mashups) went out with perma-smiles on their polymer faces.
OK, OK, apologies for all the rampant pun abuse. Obviously a show that spectacularly opens with Nick Cannon shouting, “Time to get weird!” as he emerges from the mouth of a wall-sized Mr. Roboto/Hanacare mask while dressed like Morris Day attending a masquerade ball isn’t something to be taken too seriously. That being said, producers are not playing this season. Having realized that most of the TV-viewing public has access to Google and Wikipedia, they’ve made America’s most bonkers new guessing game much more challenging, with tighter “military-grade” security and vaguer clue packages. Last season, I had already won the Yahoo office pool by Week 3, guessing every contestant correctly … but Season 2 may be my Waterloo.
While I did figure out that the Egg was Weir from a snow-globe clue; lines about “going for the gold,” being “egg-stra,” and “enjoying a good sparkle”; and the fact that his first performance was Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” (Weir has skated to multiple Gaga hits in the past), the Ice Cream was a much colder case.
But while there’s even more this Masked Singer season to boggle the brain, there is also much, much more to dazzle the eyes. After being totally robbed at this month’s Creative Arts Emmy in the Outstanding Costuming category (the one time in my life when I actually rooted against RuPaul’s Drag Race, which won instead), the show is back with custom costumes that make last year’s outfits look like something off the Nov. 1 clearance rack at the Spirit of Halloween superstore. While eight more costumes will be unveiled next week on part two of the season premiere, I think The Masked Singer has already clinched the 2020 Emmy thanks the Aeon Flux styling of the Butterfly, the Tim Burton-does-Vegas razzle-dazzle of the Skeleton, and the magnificent Cousin It-like pile of Lisa Frank rainbow tinsel that is the Tree. (I would totally wear that Tree outfit to all my holiday parties this year, by the way.)
Let’s look at this week’s surviving six masked mystery performers, and make our guestimates.
The Butterfly, “Bang Bang”
The Butterfly definitely took flight and was feeling her fantasy, taking on this tricky triple-threat vocal number (“That is a singer,” said Scherzinger) while flanked by Wang Chang “Dance Hall Days” mirrorball backup dancers. “For the past year I’ve been waiting patiently in my cocoon for the promise of metamorphosis,” the Butterfly proclaimed, saying she’s “achieved success in many stages of life” and has “found the courage to be reborn.” A shot of Big Ben on the London skyline and a line about wanting “to take back her power” had me thinking the Butterfly might be a Spice Girl, though she did sound a lot like North Carolina’s own Fantasia Barrino. She also declared, “I’m here to take you to church! Can I get an amen?”
Judges’ guesses: Madonna (come on, now — seriously???), Mel B, Cara Delevigne, Fantasia, Diana Ross.
My guesses: This lady had pipes, so obviously that rules out Posh Spice. That narrows it down to the two Melanies, but this singer doesn’t seem very sporty, so it might be Mel B, despite the Ladybug’s lack of distinctive Northern English brogue. But my top guess is Drag Race judge Michelle Visage. “Can I get an amen?” is a Drag Race catchphrase; Visage recently underwent a metamorphosis when she had her toxic breast implants removed; she spends a lot of time in the U.K. appearing on various reality shows; and her stint in the ‘80s girl group Seduction proved she has impressive vocal chops. This woman doesn’t need to lip-sync for her life: She can sang!
The Thingamajig, “Easy”
This “gentle giant” with the Toxic Avenger-meets-Muppet-Heatmiser-meets-Bart Simpson spiky troll doll hairdo, sneaker fetish, penchant for fashion shoots, and solid but husky R&B voice had me thinking he might be Dennis Rodman — though Cannon joked that it’s more likely that Rodman would compete on the original Korean version of the show.
Judges’ guesses: David Copperfield, Larry Bird, Michael Strahan, Steph Curry, Dennis Rodman.
My guesses: I’m not ruling out Rodman, but this could be Michelle Visage’s BFF, RuPaul. The plaid suit looked like something Ru might wear on his day off, and the Thingamajig werked the stage like it was a runway.
The Skeleton, “Rapper’s Delight” & “Hard to Handle”
This second-fiddle buddy comic, who’s “far from dead but been around the block few times,” was hardly the best singer of the night (he should not have beaten the Egg in their “epic smackdown,” no bones about it). But his Sin City showmanship made him the episodes all-around top entertainer. His rap was truly a delight, in a “Rappin’ Rodney” sort of way.
Judges’ guesses: Martin Short (Jeong was certain about this, which means he’s probably wrong), Jon Cryer, Nathan Lane, Dana Carvey.
My guesses: The Skeleton does sound a bit like Short’s Ed Grimley, and his “party on, dude!” declaration has me leaning towards Carvey ... but my gut tells me it’s Paul Shaffer, who has enough funk in him to handle that Otis Redding cover.
The Ladybug, “Holding Out for a Hero” & “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”
This lady has been bugged all her life by family drama. Her thick Southern accent could be detected even through all the distortion effects during her interview segment — and while that might have been an affectation to confuse viewers, there was no mistaking he had the voice of a professional singer.
Judges’ guesses: Lily Collins, Lindsay Lohan, Willow Smith, Jamie Lynn Spears.
My guess: I’m going with country crooner Spears. I have no idea what most of her rando visual clues (a scorpion, a skull, a pumpkin, and dog with mail in his mouth) meant, but the baseball bat, courtroom gavel, and police car seemed like references to the Jamie’s troubled, more famous older sister.
The Rottweiler, “Maneater”
This dog’s retro ’90s styling was very Poochie/McGruff, and his chainlink-fenced stage setup was very Toto “Rosanna” video, but he had the voice of a young, modern R&B superstar. Scherzinger even thought this was the best Masked Singer vocal performance ever — which is high praise, considering that Gladys “The Bee” Knight was on last season. It’s hard to believe this guy isn’t a pro, but many of his clues were football-related. If this guy really is an athlete, it’s time for him to quit his day job.
Judges’ guesses: James Van Der Beek, Bruno Mars, Russell Wilson, Brian Littrell, Nick Lachey, J.C. Chasez, Brandon Boyd, Patrick Stump, Nelly.
My guess: It sure sounds like Nelly to me — and he has won threes Grammys, and which Nick Cannon has teased that a Grammy-winner is behind one of these masks. It’s getting hot in herre, indeed. (Side note: You people on Twitter who guessed Michael Vick are evil!)
The Tree, “High Hopes”
Christmas came early for Masked Singer viewers, because the Tree’s performance was the musical gift that kept on giving. Brendon Urie ain’t easy to imitate, but the Tree did not panic and she really delivered. The woman with the how-lovely-are-they branches actually said she’s famous for Christmas and is forgotten the other 11 months of the year, and most of her clues seemed to indicate that she is a celebrity chef.
Judges’ guesses: Zooey Deschanel (nope, the voice was all wrong), Martha Stewart, Beverly D’Angelo, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rachael Ray.
My guesses: Rachael Ray seems like a good guess; she has a sense of humor and such a love of music that she hosts a giant rock ‘n’ roll bash at South by Southwest every year. But I think it’s Hallmark holiday movie regular Candace Cameron Bure, who is known for her love of baking and has her own line of cookware. Why wasn’t this girl fronting the Rippers on Full House? She can really sing!
Tune in next Wednesday, when two other masked singers lose their plastic heads, while all of America’s viewers figuratively lose theirs.
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