It was a mega unmasking on Wednesday as Fox’s “The Masked Singer” revealed three celebrities in a special 2-hour semi-final edition: Singer/songwriter Tori Kelly (as the Seahorse), music icon Taylor Dayne (as Popcorn) and snowboarding Olympic gold medalist Chloe Kim (as Jellyfish) were all eliminated.
Among the panelists, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Nicole Scherzinger and guest panelist Craig Robinson figured out that Popcorn was Dayne. Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong thought it was Tina Turner.
Jeong determined that Jellyfish was indeed Kim, which Robinson then copied. Thicke went with another Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas. McCarthy Wahlberg also went with an Olympian: McKayla Maroney. Scherzinger thought it was Grimes.
Thicke and Scherzinger knew that Seahorse was Kelly, and Robinson also took that pick. Jeong thought it was Christina Aguilera, while McCarthy Wahlberg named Halsey.
In her final performance as Seahorse, Kelly sang “That’s What I Like,” by Bruno Mars. Having previously tackled “Only Girl (In the World),” by Rihanna; “My Heart Will Go On,” by Celine Dion; and “…Baby One More Time,” by Britney Spears, Kelly said she was eager to use “The Masked Singer” to do something different.
“I realized this could be kind of a fun opportunity to show an alter ego, and do things that I wouldn’t normally do within my own music,” Kelly told Variety. “I’m kind of known for having a guitar in front of me so maybe this is my opportunity to do some choreo and be a little bit bigger of a character and so that that was exactly what I tried to do with the Seahorse.”
Kelly said the costume was a bit of a challenge — and it also revealed something she hadn’t realized about her performance style.
“I do certain movements with my head and when I’m hitting a certain note,” she said. “It’s very subconscious so I did not realize I’m doing it until I put this mask on and I’m a little more restricted in moving my head around. That was kind of the main challenge, making sure I was coordinated and didn’t fall over or anything like that.”
Kelly said she checked online and saw that her fans immediately figured out that it was her. “I just thought it was so hilarious, like I can’t hide from my fans at all,” she said. “They knew, there’s no getting around that.”
Kelly said “The Masked Singer” changed her in ways she wasn’t expecting. “I kind of walked away feeling like I had way more confidence in who I was as a performer,” she said. ” I’ve been known as just a singer, which is fine, but I think being on the show gave me the confidence to view myself as an overall entertainer. I went out there and worked the stage more and was doing stuff that I never do. I’m definitely going to take the Seahorse with me into my other shows. I definitely think it changed me for the better. So I’m thankful for ‘The Masked Singer.’”
Dayne, meanwhile, as Popcorn sang “Better Be Good to Me,” by Tina Turner, after previously performing “What About Us,” by Pink; “Falling,” by Harry Styles; and “Domino,” by Jessie J. She also knew that her distinctive voice wouldn’t fool some of the panelists or her fans.
“We knew that was going to be a challenge and yet at the same time, they’ve had many recognizable voices on the show,” she said. “So we picked songs from male artists and then we also played around with keys, and yet at the same time, they have a show to produce. We went pretty far I think a lot of people guessed it and a lot of people didn’t. It worked out pretty well.”
Dayne said she was interested in joining “The Masked Singer” after some of the panelists name checked her last season as potentially being the Night Angel. “When they called me for this season, we were like, let’s slip in there and then really give them something to talk about,” she said. “The costumes were incredibly challenging in their own way, but my costume was everything and more I could have dreamed of. I loved being Miss Popcorn, she is the most hopeful, the prettiest, cutest, liveliest, most loving and Betty Boop-esque.”
“The Masked Singer” was more of a commitment than Dayne expected, but she gives the show high marks for the experience. “This was really a hell of a hell of a ride,” she said. “I love the challenges. I think once a year you have to put yourself into some real deep. Something to challenge your mind or your body, four weeks 12 weeks whatever it takes. Something to do that, shake it up, your perspective has to change something.”
Meanwhile, Kim came to “The Masked Singer” not having ever performed music on such a stage. But she has loved the show ever since her parents were hooked on the original Korean version.
“I remember them being completely hooked on the show,” Kim said. “Anytime I’d call my parents, or ask what they’re doing, they’d be like, ‘we’re watching the Masked Singer, it’s so cool, we think it’s this celebrity or this celebrity.’ I didn’t really know what it was about. And then I watched it with them one day, and I was like, this is amazing. I love the concept.”
In her final performance as Jellyfish, Kim performed “Stay,” by Rihanna feat. Mikky Eko. Her previous numbers included “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” by Fergie; “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline; and “Don’t Start Now,” by Dua Lipa.
Kim and her family regularly have karaoke nights, which ultimately paid off in her ability to sing on “The Masked Singer.” “When I got singer guesses like Charli XCX, I was really flattered by that only because I haven’t had any experience performing or being on a stage and singing in general,” she said.
New this season, the show’s panelists are also competing for a “Golden Ear” trophy based on their first impressions of each masked performer — and going into the episode, McCarthy Wahlberg was in the lead with three, while Thicke and Scherzinger had two points each, and Jeong so far had zero.
For Popcorn, Scherzinger’s first impression guess was Diana Ross; everyone else chose Tina Turner. No one got a point there.
For Jellyfish, Thicke’s first impression was Addison Rae. McCarthy Wahlberg said Daisy Ridley; Jeong thought it was Yara Shahidi; and Scherzinger said Sofia Richie. No one picked up another point here either.
For Seahorse, Jeong’s first impression was Fergie, Thicke picked JoJo; McCarthy Wahlberg wrote Halsey; Scherzinger said Maren Morris. The panelists were 0 for 3 in their first impressions, with no one entering the finals with any more points.
This season’s costumes include Baby Alien, Crocodile, Broccoli, Gremlin, Mushroom, Jellyfish, Whatchamacalit, Lips, Squiggly Monster, Popcorn, Sun, Dragon, Giraffe, Seahorse, Snow Owls and Serpent.
Previously unmasked have been Paul Anka (Broccoli), Lonzo Ball (Whatchamacalit), “Dr. Elvis” Francois (Serpent), Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black (Snow Owls), Bob Saget (Squiggly Monster), Wendy Williams (Lips), Mark Sanchez (Baby Alien), Brian Austin Green (Giraffe), Mickey Rourke (Gremlin) and Busta Rhymes (Dragon).
That means heading into the finals, just Crocodile, Mushroom and Sun remain. Here’s how they performed in week ten, “The Semi Finals – The Super Six”:
Song: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” by Aerosmith
Panel guesses: AJ MacLean, Nick Lachey, Nick Carter
Super clue: Pizza rat
Connected to: Craig Robinson; “You’re one of my favorite actors and it’s so cool to be able to share the screen with you again.”
Previous songs: “It’s My Life,” by Bon Jovi; “Toxic,” by Britney Spears; “Bleeding Love,” by Leona Lewis
Previous panel guesses: Jon Hamm, Nick Lachey, Donnie Wahlberg, Adam Lambert, Lenny Kravitz, Harry Connick Jr., Jared Leto, Jordan Knight, Justin Guarini
Song: “Valerie,” by Amy Winehouse
Panel guesses: Jaden Smith, Jordan Fisher, Leslie Odom Jr., Keegan Michael Key
Super clue: Alarm clock: 3:00
Connected to: Robin Thicke; “I love mixing it up with you again. Because this definitely isn’t the first time we connected.”
Previous songs: “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell; “If I Could Turn Back Time,” by Cher; “Unconditionally,” by Katy Perry
Previous panel guesses: Donald Glover, Usher, Frank Ocean, Adam Lambert, Jaden Smith, Jaden Smith, Taye Diggs, The Weeknd
Song: “When the Party’s Over,” by Billie Eilish
Panel guesses: LeAnn Rimes, Brandii Carlisle, Kate Hudson, Emilia Clarke
Super clue: Breathing fire
Connected to: Nicole Scherzinger; “The last time we met was in the bathroom.”
Previous songs: “Cuz I Love You,” by Lizzo; “Praying,” by Kesha; “Piece of My Heat,” by Janis Joplin
Previous panel guesses: Katharine McPhee, Demi Lovato, Madonna, Mandy Moore, Katharine McPhee, Carrie Underwood, Katharine McPhee, Jewel