Pentatonix had 'light bulb moment' after being revealed as The Masked Singer 's California Roll: 'This is just the beginning'

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Warning: This article contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer.

The green tea is piping hot!

This week marked the semi-finals on The Masked Singer and although California Roll performed a soulful rendition of "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson followed by a lively cover of "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars during a three-way Battle Royale round against Medusa and Macaw, the sushi supergroup was told they would not be moving on to next week's finale.

Before their seaweed was surrendered, the judges made their final guesses, which included the casts of Pitch Perfect and In the Heights, as well as correct guesses by Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg and Robin Thicke (and predicted by EW after their first performance) as the California Roll was revealed to be the Grammy award-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, made up of Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado, Kevin Olusola, and Matt Sallee.

Ahead of their unmasking, EW spoke to three members of the group, Hoying, Olusola, and Sallee about their historic run as the most people to ever share a costume on The Masked Singer stage, their upcoming Christmas music, and how this experience will impact their future projects.

THE MASKED SINGER: Pentatonix in the “Semi-Finals” episode of THE MASKED SINGER airing Wednesday, May 10 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker/FOX. ©2023 FOX Media LLC.
THE MASKED SINGER: Pentatonix in the “Semi-Finals” episode of THE MASKED SINGER airing Wednesday, May 10 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. CR: Michael Becker/FOX. ©2023 FOX Media LLC.

Michael Becker/FOX Pentatonix revealed as California Roll on 'The Masked Singer'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the most people who have ever shared one costume on The Masked Singer, how did this come together?

SCOTT HOYING: We got an email saying that The Masked Singer was interested in having us on the show and we're all fans of the show, and I honestly have always dreamed of being on it. I thought that would be so cool. And so it was really exciting, we instantly were like, yes, should we be a robot? Should we be a five headed dragon? So then we met with The Masked Singer team and landed on the California Roll. It was so cool to be able to go on the show and be able to push ourselves creatively and use instrumentation. It was way less nerve-racking being in a mask. You're so hidden and you just get to be whatever character, singing however you want. And the whole thing was, in a way, a therapeutic, fun, competitive, exciting journey for us.

Any discussion about doing it separately or in smaller groups?

MATT SALLEE: I think it was always all five of us performing. We toyed with the idea of maybe having people not sing from round to round to throw people off. But we just have so much fun singing together and we really love building together. And so I think it worked out the way it was supposed to. And the coolest part about it is if you look at that first song of [Lady Gaga's] "Paparazzi," Scott starts it in the front, but about two bars in, somebody pops out to the left and somebody pops out to the right and it's so entertaining and they're like 'How many people are there?' And then we finally sync together. It was a magical first performance and it's really exciting in that way because there's so many people. People were like, 'I think it's Pentatonix, is it Pentatonix?'

How did choreography work with all of you on stage at the same time in giant costumes? Any mishaps?

KEVIN OLUSOLA: Thankfully no mishaps, but definitely there were things to keep in mind that were different for us being on stage. Having that mask on, your visibility is limited. So the choreographers and The Masked Singer team were extremely thoughtful in making sure we could be ourselves, but also feel comfortable on stage to make sure that no mishaps would happen. So I was just so happy about the collaboration there and the choreography and the movement. I think they were very much encouraging in terms of go full out, live your life, have fun, be extra, be dramatic, because that reads really well on camera and you're getting to play a character that you normally wouldn't be able to play on your normal stage. I think we really took that to heart. You know, when [Radiohead's] "Creep" comes on, we are thrashing, we are head bobbing, doing things that normally we wouldn't do on stage because on stage you're very self-aware of your body and how you're moving and your face because there are cameras usually on you on the screen. So it just was really nice to be free and allow ourselves to really delve deep into this new character and this new role. Ha, no pun intended.

Did anyone in the group try to change their voice or style of singing to try and throw people off?

HOYING: I feel like we definitely all tried to a little bit. I know for "Paparazzi" personally, at the beginning I was really trying to give a character, like a jazzy kind of voice. But it didn't work. Every comment online was, 'I knew within 30 seconds.' I feel like we just truly could not hide ourselves.

Pentatonix attends the 65th GRAMMY Awards on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Pentatonix attends the 65th GRAMMY Awards on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Amy Sussman/Getty Images Pentatonix members Matt Sallee, Scott Hoying, Kirstin Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, and Kevin Olusola

You're about to embark on the European leg of your world tour. How excited are you to head out there and get on stage?

SALLEE: We're so excited for this tour. This tour has been postponed since 2020 and we're finally able to go and we're finally getting to see the fans. It's been some time and I think those shows are gonna be really special because of that fact. We're gonna give it all we got and they're gonna come in, they're going to really enjoy it and give it all they've got back. I just know it's gonna feel like this even reciprocal exchange and they're gonna be some of the most magical shows that we ever are gonna be a part of.

OLUSOLA: One of the things that we're also excited about, we're always thinking about Christmas and I think one of the things besides Christmas music for this year that we're thinking about, we've been working on a film that Netflix and Christina Milian are executive producing called Meet Me Next Christmas. And we get to be centerpieces in this movie in a way that is really, really exciting. We've always wanted to do a Christmas movie like this. It's a rom-com that I think people are gonna really enjoy and have a lot of fun with. It's slated for 2024, so working on that film and our Christmas music for this year has been such a fun joy as well.

Do you plan to release any official covers of any of the songs that you performed on the show? Or maybe even incorporate any of the songs into your own tour?

HOYING: Definitely. We'll definitely do "Creep" on tour. We may do "Paparazzi" on tour, but if people come to our summer tour, they'll get our California Roll experience as well as the Pentatonix experience. The California-tonix Experience.

Was there a standout guess from any of the judges that you thought was either hilarious or shocking in any way?

OLUSOLA: One of the guesses that I thought was so interesting was that they thought we were the cast of a Broadway musical. We all love musical theater in various capacities. So that one really made a lot of sense to me. I go, oh, that's kind of cool. And everybody trained in musical theater. So I thought that was very much a compliment to their vocal training as well. Musical theater nerds are just, they're the best singers technically. They just know how to use their voice as an instrument. So that was a really, really special guess.

HOYING: I just felt very flattered by those guesses. They were guessing the cast of Hamilton, and I was like, oh my God, thank you. They guessed Ben Platt and he's one of the best singers, so I would absolutely love to take that compliment. I also thought it was really interesting they said Alabama Shakes. I've never like really thought we've sounded like them, but they're so soulful and they're so amazing, so that was a really cool comparison too.

What did each of you take away from this Masked Singer experience?

SALLEE: I think one of my biggest takeaways is when we were unmasked, to see the judges faces, and their words too with just appreciation for what we do, they were saying such kind things. It really blows my mind. I'll never forget the judges faces when we were unmasked cause they were like, 'wow, thank you so much for being a part of this show for us.' Thank you for joining us on stage. And they felt humbled and we felt humbled too.

HOYING: It was really cool to see, even with instrumentation and under a mask and hidden, that people knew it was Pentatonix, and it made me feel like our sound is bigger than just the gimmicks of no instruments, that we can evolve and push ourselves and we've kind of made our mark and cemented ourselves in this industry in a way. It kind of gave us this light bulb moment that this is just the beginning.

OLUSOLA: I would say practically the same thing. It's cool to know that we can continuously evolve our sound and that The Masked Singer experience really catalyzed what we believe could be a new era of how we think about adding production in a way that enhances what we do vocally. We don't have to be necessarily just an a cappella group. So I'm excited for the music that we create from this experience.

The Masked Singer finale airs Wednesday, May 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

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