The Masked Singer: Once Again, a Hip-Hop Legend Is the First to 'Take It Off'

There were incredible vocalists among the first five (six) contestants, including the show’s first duo — and  some of the worst guesses ever. Garth Brooks? Carole Baskin?!

We needed this now more than ever. “The Masked Singer” is back and it is more glorious than it’s ever been.

This first batch of contestants was absolutely incredible overall with three incredible vocals among the best the show has ever had — and that’s out of the first five contestants … and the other two rapped.

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Speaking of two, tonight debuted the show’s first duo, the Snow Owls. The costuming is stunning but their harmonies soar to new heights. And they weren’t the only performers to leave us a little teary-eyes. Maybe it’s 2020, but this was a moving hour of ridiculous television.

Taking it to a new level of ridiculous was Ken Jeong, who somehow elevated the notion of bad guessing to an art form to the point we basically have to decide he’s just not taking this seriously at all. And this in the first season where there are actual stakes on the line.

The panel is also facing a new challenge this season — and it was totally worth it just to see their shocked faces when Nick said they would be held accountable for the terrible guesses this year. In particular, they are to jot down their “First Impression” guesses. The judge who gets the most correct, scores the Golden Sun trophy.

Just when we thought this show couldn’t get even more delightfully ridiculous, they upped the stakes and we are here for it!

As for the masked singers themselves, Nick Cannon tells uss they’re worth more than $389 million in combined net worth, have 36 Grammys, three world records, an Olympic gold medal and an Oscar (in one of the major categories — is that you, Jennifer Hudson?).

Let’s jump into this week’s batch of contestants, complete with clue packages and performances. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking, we’re going to make you power through the terrible (and occasionally good) guesses made by our illustrious panel of Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger first. We do this because we love … to torture you.

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The Sun

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The Sun set a sky-high bar right off the top. She came out with swagger and confidence and then she just slayed that Lizzo track. She had power, grit, a beautiful falsetto and stage presence for days. On top of that, it was an emotionally resonant performance, even through the costume. That’s impressive pipes. She has to be a professional singer, right?

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Guesses: Hers appears to be a story of early fame that got to be too much. Like Icarus, she perhaps flew too close to … herself? … and got burned out, spiraling into a depression. Her poolside package also featured the planet with Mickey Mouse ears, a random jaguar and references to “quiet place,” “ray of light” and a gold member card, title: Fun Director.

Nicole shied away from obvious “Frozen” references in the package to slide over to Gold perhaps meaning David Foster and thus to his wife Katharine McPhee — but we think her voice is cleaner than this.

Jenny latched onto those ears to find a Disney star, thinking perhaps Demi Lovato, but Ken said it was “completely wrong” because he thinks this is Madonna. There is no way this is Madonna. with Jenny going so far as to say Madge can’t sing this well.

The internet isn’t quite sure on this, except to say they do not think it’s Demi Lovato. Popular guesses include LeAnn Rimes and Christina Aguilera, among other wilder guesses like Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood. A few Emily Blunt guesses are intriguing, though, with “A Quiet Place” and the fact she was Mary Poppins (Disney).

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Giraffe brought the party, but with a flow we’re not totally convinced belongs to a professional rapper. He was a little behind the rhythm at times and a little talky on the chorus of “Let’s Get It Started.” That said, he’d probably do really well rapping in karaoke. His stage presence also tells us he’s not a stage performer by trade, but he’s also not bad for an amateur.

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Guesses: In talking to Nick, Giraffe said it was nice to not focus on his vocals, so maybe he is a singer, just not a rapper or someone who sings and moves like he just did. He also said the anonymity was nice, which pairs with his clue package talking about a roller coaster career, including becoming the butt of jokes.

An early guess during his performance from the panel was Vanilla Ice, and while we don’t think that’s right, it fits with the narrative as he also suffered ridicule after tremendous success. Robin even went with that as his guess. Other clues included being tied in knots, a $3 strongman game and lots of carnival references.

Ken Jeong’s awful Garth Brooks guess was so long and boring that Giraffe actually sat down to take a nap (the guess didn’t even earn the picture montage). But then, Jenny thought maybe it was Travis Barker, because of drumming in his blood, “crash and burn” possibly being about his plane accident, and the shot of a carnival “barker,” but was he ever the butt of jokes?

The internet was all over the place, with some people guessing Lin-Manuel Miranda and then other people piling on them for that guess. Other picks include Lil Dicky, Hugh Jackman or even Miranda’s “Hamilton” co-stars Daveed Diggs or Leslie Odom Jr. Vanilla Ice also holds a lot of weight online, but mostly people are clueless right now.

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Popcorn was giving off strong Tina Turner vibes right off the bat, from her incredible legs to her scratchy voice and powerhouse performance. Even if it isn’t her, that gut reaction is a testament to the prowess of this vocalist, who commanded this stage without even moving for the first part. We were thinking older performer because of that, but then she shot to life for the second half and now we’re just thinking veteran, legendary performer.

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Guesses: Her thick New York accent faded away when she started flirting with Nick in a very playful way. “It seems like there may be some history,” Jenny said, to which Nick quickly shot back, “If it ain’t history, there’s gonna be a future, I’ll tell you that.”

That sassiness pairs with earlier clues tying her to New York City, and even “Sex and the City.” There was also a goldfish with gold hoop earrings and a tiger on her bed, while the sneak peek had a picture of a green cow so animals is clearly a thing … in some way.

Add a plate of meat loaf, an apple with a bite out of it and a coiled snake and we’re not sure we want to be welcome to her ‘hood — it seems dangerous. She did say she built her career around love, though.

“Proud Merry-Go-Round” had Jenny reduce that to “Proud Mary” and latch onto our first instinct, too. Is this Tina Turner? Ken Jeong rejected it outright to make his worst guess yet — seriously, he had to just be goofing off to take the king and the tiger and say this is Carole Baskin. How many reality shows does he think she’s on right now?

Nicole went with Mary J. Blige, due to the hoops, which is a much better guess than whatever is going on with Ken this season. The internet was as wack as Ken picking Ms. Patti LaBelle even though she already did this show as Flower. Come on, now!

Other guesses that recurred included Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Dane or Macy Gray, who does have that same grit. A few are also thinking Cyndi Lauper, but we suspect that has more to do with that package accent than her singing. Mostly they’re hoping it’s Tina Turner while arguing whether or not she would ever do this show.

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Dragon is a huge dude rapping with that grit and gravel in his voice, which immediately takes us to Busta Rhymes. He had an old-school vibe, but he was on an old-school track so some of that was inevitable. He didn’t do much dancing around the stage, more prowling back and forth, but that was a strong and confident rap delivery with a definite signature sound. But whose?

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Guesses: HIs clue package in the teaser mentioned stocks and bonds, and this time he showed us all the gold in his lair he acquired after, he says, he calmed down from all the dangerous racing around he was doing.

Racing was a huge motif, with stock cars, sports cars and even tike cars, but there was also a bullseye on a target, a gold bone, the statue of liberty and reference to the fact that wearing outrageous costumes is nothing new for him.

Jenny found another gravelly-voiced rapper and latched onto that X on the target with her DMX guess, which is pretty solid, too. Ken (sigh) took the gold medals, the jacuzzi and the stopwatch to Michael Phelps and we just don’t know what to do with him this season.

Robin shared our first instinct, which was that this was a man “known for his dragons,” Busta Rhymes, which Nicole was digging because he has a song called “Dangerous,” another term from the clue package.

The internet just kept throwing out rappers with that gravelly sound like Xzibit, DMX and Busta Rhymes. Apparently, there was just no doubt that this was their usual rapping style and sound, which does narrow it down quite a bit. But the most confident ones agree with us that this sounds just like Busta (with a few extremely confident DMX supporters … but we’re not buying it).

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Snow Owls

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Snow Owls delivered our first duet, and after that performance we suspect it won’t be anywhere close to our last. They were absolutely transcendent vocally with stunning harmonies. There was emotion oozing through that, with their voices complementing each other beautifully. They sing together like they’ve done so hundreds of times before, it was just effortlessly beautiful.

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Guesses: Donny Osmond has already done this show, or we might guess the Osmonds because they spoke in the package about how we haven’t seen them together in awhile. Or could he have come back anyway to sing with his sister, Marie?

Additional clues included “Jam-A-Lot,” a pearl in a clamshell, a couch and references to him being a prankster and this show being a family reunion for them. We saw him with a red rose at that point, while there were also references to …

They even told a story about him covering her house in snow to help bring winter to her one year. Robin had an interesting thought, exploring Christmas clues and the prankster element to guess Amy Grant and Vince Gill.

Jenny was thinking the brother-sister vibe, but not genetically. Instead, she was thinking “Brady” siblings Maureen McCormack and Barry Williams, but are they that strong as vocalists? Probably not, so she joined our first instinct of Donny and Marie

Ken thinks that Rose is a “Schitt’s Creek” reference, which is absolutely terrible because we would be blown away if Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy are that good as singers.

While there is some support online for Donny and Marie, the biggest question they have is whether Derek and Julianne Hough are that good of singers.

We know she’s been breaking out with a solo music career, but can he match her note for note like that? He does have that same dramatic flourish and prankster vibe to him as Donny, so we’re not hating on this idea. Plus, it has been awhile since we’ve seen them together.

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It was an incredible first night of performances, and based on those performances we have to give it up to the ladies (including the female half of Snow Owls). That leaves our pair of rappers to fall into our Bottom 2, but which one deserves to fall all the way to the bottom?

We’d go with Giraffe, because he didn’t have as much command of the stage or his performance as Dragon. But what did the panelists and audience decide? They decided that Giraffe was a neck above the competition, but they weren’t feeling Dragon, either.

The new twist kicked off right away as those “First Impression” guesses quickly came back to haunt the panelists. Jenny slid under the table when Nick revealed hers, much preferring her final guess.

  • Jenny McCarthy: first impression (Adrian Peterson), final guess (DMX)
  • Ken Jeong: first impression (Marshawn Lynch), final guess (Michael Phelps)
  • Nicole Scherzinger: first impression (Busta Rhymes), final guess (Busta Rhymes)
  • Robin Thicke: first impression (Busta Rhymes), final guess (Busta Rhymes)

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The internet was also feeling totally confident that this was Busta Rhymes, and we thought we recognized that gravel and flow the second he started rocking the stage. Plus, that menacing presence lurking back and forth across the stage. It’s almost unmistakable.

Well, three of us were right as it was indeed Busta Rhymes. Seriously, that’s one of the most distinctive voices in hip-hop

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“The Masked Singer’ continues Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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