Remember that bizarre, David LaChapelle-directed chicken sandwich commercial that this week’s Masked Singer guest judge Darius Rucker did for Burger King in 2005? Well, that looked like an episode of Meet the Press compared to Wednesday’s Masked Singer top four semifinals, when viewers finally learned the top-secret identity of Cluedle-Doo, the secret-agent clue-hacking chicken of this “game-changing season.”
After Cluedle bumrushed the show and stunned the panel with his first musical performance of Season 5, a swaggy “Return of the Mack,” the blindsided judges gave their first-impression guesses. Ken Jeong and Darius thought this was actor Kevin James, for some reason, while Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger thought that maybe Mr. Doo would finally be the superstar whose name comes up more times on this series than even Björk’s: Jamie Foxx. But somehow Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, who has spent five seasons wildly guessing that various mystery celebrities were either her husband Donnie or some other New Kid on the Block, failed to recognize this funky chicken’s voice as belonging to — yes — Donnie Wahlberg.
Or, at least Jenny pretended not to recognize Donnie. I find it difficult to believe that the judge with the best guessing track record would make such a huge mistake, but if Jenny really thought that this poultry performer was Akon, it’s time for her to turn in her Golden Ear trophy.
“You don't understand! I supposed to have golden ears and I didn't recognize my husband's voice!” Jenny gasped, falling to the floor, nearly fainting, and then running around excitedly like, well, a chicken with its head removed. “Donnie, have you been coming in each week and lying?” Donnie confessed that he’d been “sneaking in and out” of the Masked Singer set not just to catch a faraway glimpse of his teary-eyed bride, but because “it's been so long since I've performed for my fans. And New Kids on the Block fans, affectionately known as Blockheads, they're family. So, I did it for my ladies and brothers and of course, for my lady too.”
As for the contestant reveal of the night, it was another boy band member: the Yeti, a.k.a. Omarion of B2K. (Sorry guys, it’s still not Jamie Foxx or Björk.) Host Nick Cannon was flabbergasted that the rollerblading wonder, who’d delivered some of the most genuinely impressive and emotional performances of the season, had been cut just one week short of the finals, and Nick spoke for much of America as he exclaimed: “The Yeti? I thought he was going to win!” But the abominable showman took the news of his outrageous elimination in stride.
“This is a new challenge, to continue to just broaden my range as a performer. And this was an amazing experience. So, thank you guys for all of your compliments. I truly appreciate it, and I had so much fun,” Omarion told the panel. In a game-respecting-game moment, Donnie, now sitting next to Jenny in his headless chicken suit, then told Omarion, “And it takes a talent like yours to make that character come to life. It could only be done by someone with a talent like you have.”
So, now we know the three cosplaying contestants moving on to next week’s grand finale, in what Jenny declared “the closest race in Masked Singer history.” I don’t think any of next week’s reveals will be as surprising as Cluedle-Doo’s, but for one last time, let’s look at the latest clue packages and confirm what we already know.
The Black Swan, “Tequila”
This Swan never went through an ugly-duckling phase. Despite Nick’s claim that this highly competitive season has never had a "clear frontrunner," she did start off as the one-to-watch of Season 5, and she’s never faltered since. This was another beautiful vocal, the kind that would establish any contestant on The Voice or American Idol as a frontrunner as well. “You came on with such confidence, like, ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time.’ There’s no doubt I’m going to see you in the finals,” said Jenny. “Week in, week out, you take us on this emotional journey. You are more than a performer. You are an experience,” raved Ken.
Clues: We saw a maple leaf, an aquarium, a “Hello, My Name Is” nametag with the number 1, and a Christmas tree. Over the course of this season, we’ve learned that the Black Swan has connections to Oprah Winfrey, was raised by a single mother, is a former child star, broke a chart record set by Mariah Carey, and spent years fighting the Hollywood machine. Past visual clues have included the states of Montana and New Hampshire, a stuffed rabbit, an “I’m late!” sign, and a talent contest.
Judges’ guesses: Björk (that was Ken’s guess, of course), Alanis Morissette, Carly Rae Jepsen.
My guess: That maple-leaf clue really threw off the panel, especially Robin, son of late Canadian actor/songwriter Alan Thicke. But JoJo’s father is also of Canadian descent, so I am sticking with that guess, because all the other clues line up. JoJo’s first single, “Leave (Get Out),” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Songs chart when she was just 13 years old; her 2006 single “Too Little, Too Late” then surpassed the record previously held by Mariah Carey’s “Loverboy” for biggest leap into the Billboard Hot 100’s top three. JoJo has also appeared in the film Aquamarine and on Oprah and America’s Most Talented Kids; she was originally supposed to play Hannah Montana; she spent part of her childhood (with her single momager) in New Hampshire; and after a 10-year recording hiatus while battling her old record label, Blackground, she returned in 2016. Her most recent full-length release, December Baby, was a holiday album. And that stuffed rabbit is a “JoJo” pun, too.
The Chameleon, “Oh Boy”
The Chameleon is, by his own admission, “not a singer” — and this show is called The Masked SINGER, so the fact that he stayed over the Yeti was controversial. But he is a dope emcee for sure, and he killed this Cam’ron/Juelz Santana track. There was no question that a too-legit-to-quit hip-hop icon lurked beneath that lounge-lizard leisure suit. “Rap’s not easy to do. People think it is, but it’s not. The way you were right behind the beat and you were laying it down, man? That was awesome,” said Darius.
Clues: We saw a double-decker bus and a pile of bricks, and apparently he once hung out with Robin Thicke and Caitlyn Jenner eating corn dogs, as one does. In the past we have learned that Martha Stewart is his friend, Jackie Chan is his hero, and he’s a Golden Globe nominee and military kid. We’ve also seen orange slices, a toy airplane, a captain’s hat, martial arts tournaments, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, chicken wings, a black-and-yellow taxicab, tailoring, and cheese.
Judges’ guesses: Larry Fitzgerald, Riff Raff, 2 Chainz.
My guess: I say it every week, and I’ll say it again… the Chameleon is Jackie Chan superfan, proud military brat, Taylor Gang member, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu/Muay Thai expert Wiz Khalifa, a.k.a. the recording artist behind the mixtape Kush & OrangeJuice, “In My Car (Puff Bus),” “Whippin' a Brick,” “This Plane,” “Captain,” “Black and Yellow,” a Ninja Turtle theme, “Chicken With the Cheese,” and the Golden Globe-nominated “See You Again.” I have no idea what that corn dog clue was about, but everything else is enough for me to make a very educated guess.
The Piglet, “Bruises”
The Piglet still sounded like a boy band singer, unmistakably, but this was his most soulful and sultry performance yet. “Piglet came out swinging for the semifinals! … That was your strongest vocal of the season by far. That was perfection,” gushed Nicole. “I have a feeling you’re going wee, wee, wee all the way to the finals,” punned Robin.
Clues: He had grueling schedule for most of his career but now he loves the simple life at home with his family, and he once was involved in some sort of poker charity event with Jenny. We also saw a llama, which the judges thought may connect him in some way to Masked Singer Season 3 contestant Drew “The Llama” Carey. In the past, we found out that his hero is Bruce Willis, he’s had some rocky “public relationships,” and he has a secret birthmark on the side of his head. Other clues have referenced the Miami Dolphins’ Dan Marino, vampire fangs, cotton candy, and barbecue grilling.
Judges’ guesses: Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey, Joel Madden, Tim McGraw.
My guess: This is Bruce Willis superfan Nick Lachey — who has a secret birthmark, had his doomed marriage to “A Public Affair” singer Jessica Simpson chronicled on MTV’s Newlyweds, starred in the vampire horror flick Rise: Blood Hunter, used to work at an amusement park (where cotton candy is served), has hung out with Dan Marino, and was a member of ‘90s boy band 98 Degrees. The llama clue is likely a reference to his brother and bandmate Drew Lachey. Oh — and here’s a photo of Nick Lachey and Jenny playing poker together.
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