It's the return of the powerhouse Group A on The Masked Singer with Cow, Gazelle and S'More swinging for the fences in their last shot for one spot in the season finale.
The stakes (or is that steaks?) could not be higher as Cow, Gazelle and S’More returned to The Masked Singer stage for the first time in weeks. It’s the Group A finale and — in a shocking twist — there’s only one spot in the finals for each group.
That meant that “Disco Night” was make or break in this competition for all three of them. The night also featured surprise appearances by The Trammps, singing their iconic “Disco Inferno,” and Season 4’s Popcorn, Taylor Dayne, returning to tease this week’s Battle Royale.
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The format for these three rounds of finals is that one mask will be unmasked immediately after the first round of competition based on studio audience and panel votes. Then the top two vote-getters face off in the Battle Royale, with only one advancing to the season finale.
The only potential save for any of the three on each of these nights is the return of the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell. It can be used to save any singer at any point during these three finals episodes, but only one time. That’s not one time each night, but one time across all three nights, so the panel has to be careful not to use it too soon. There are, after all, six more singers to come in the next two weeks!
Let’s jump right in with this week’s mask. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmasking(s), 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.
Along with the panel’s guesses, we’ll be sharing some internet speculation, too, so if you don’t want to be potentially spoiled (because they are very good at this), you may want to skip past the guesses sections.
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(“Disco Inferno,” The Trammps) Props to the real deal, the guys of The Trammps — at least this particular lineup — looked and sounded great 47 years after the track helped push the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to the top of the charts and a Grammy win. An anthem for the ear and musical style, it was a great way to kick off this retro-themed night on The Masked Singer, though we were disappointed the panel wasn’t dressed nearly as flashy when they walked out.
Taylor Dayne [Season 4 Semi-Finalist Popcorn]
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(“I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor) As a preview for tonight’s upcoming Battle Royale, Taylor came out and sang the song that the Top 2 vote-getters on the night would be tackling in their battle to advance to the final. She wasn’t quite as strong as her journey on the show, but Taylor definitely has the pipes to slay such an epic song. It also set the stage for a huge showdown as this is not an easy track to master.
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ROUND 1: DISCO NIGHT
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(“That’s the Way (I Like It),” KC and the Sunshine Band) S’More had great stage presence and audience engagement, but we were lacking some oomph in his vocals. He was on pitch and had a pleasant enough tone, but there was something lacking that made us feel like this wasn’t a lead singer vocal. It was lackluster in some ways, and we even found ourselves wondering if he was struggling to get his breath control down. He sounds like a singer, just not a seasoned one — or one that’s out of practice, as his clues hinted at.
Guesses: One of the first things S’More told us about this experience is that it reminded him how much he loves being on the stage, and maybe that’s where he belonged. But he also said the return to the stage was scary, suggesting it’s definitely been a while since he was at home there.
He also shared that he’s had to start training to keep up with the physical demands of the show, including lifting 10-lb. weights and riding an exercise bike. We also saw gator boots as he mentioned feeling like he was back in boy band boot camp, so boy band guesses were definitely on the right track!
His clue connection to the panel started with a gold key. To that, S’More added, “Robin, I’ve been inside your house and you have great taste in music and home decor.”
For the semi-finals clue package, S’More was a proud papa, talking about having a child while he was touring. Along with this we got a tour bus with 2005 on it, so is that when his kid was born? He said the 2000s was his decade as he got to hang on the set of TRL and his videos were on rotation at MTV.
Visual clues included blue sunglasses and a bottle of hairspray as he talked about stepping away from performing so he wouldn’t have to tour and could instead take root somewhere for the sake of his child(ren). His on-stage clue was a map of the S’more Bros Tour, with S’More adding, “The 2000s were a busy time for me. I was busy touring with my bros.”
The previous clue package talked about defying his father as a teenager and commanding the Broadway stage. He said a big opportunity came his way as a teen and his dad told him to turn it down, but instead, he moved out. Luckily, his dad showed up backstage at his Broadway show to say he was proud of him.
New visual clues included a game console, a TV with M (like for a Mature rating) on it. Nick was doused with a cooler of orange balls, dumped on him by DeSean Jackson. The clue was oranges, which S’More explained, “I’ve tasted victory before and it’s so sweet. I hope to do so again here at The Masked Singer.”
In his first clue package he talked about being cheered on by millions, being a household name, making headlines with his “fellow adventures and idols.” He said he became a heartthrob in a matter of weeks from virtual obscurity. Images included a deep dish pizza and soda.
S’More said his life has always been about blazing his own trail and he’s hoping to recapture some of that here. Other images included a Christmas tree with silver ornaments on it and an angel on top. His first on-stage clue was a film reel that read, “Starring S’More.” He said not-so-humbly,” As you can tell I’m very talented on and off stage.”
Robin immediately started racking his brain about boy banders who’d been to his house, recalling one who was there for a late-night party. He tied the 10-lb. weight to Kevin Richardson and Backstreet Boys’ ten albums.
It was a repeat guess for him, while Jenny jumped on the internet’s favorite guess with her repeat pick of O-Town’s Ashley Parker Angel. She tied the gator-skin boots for their Florida roots. Nicole also leaned back on her latest guess, confirming that Jordan Knight had been to Robin’s house, as well.
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(“Ring My Bell,” Anita Ward) Cow is a fantastic vocalist with incredible range and power, but it was the subtle, gentler things that really tickled our fancy in this masterful performance. He has incredible stage presence and command, while swaying in character as this female character. He brings so much charm and commitment paired with a rich tone that screams R&B superstar.
Guesses: This week, Cow gushed about how much his mom means to him, both as his biggest supporter now and literal supporter growing up. He recalled her working “seven jobs” at once to support his family, which is why his dream was to make it big enough that he could support her, which he’s been able to do.
While talking, we saw a red stoplight and he caught and threw a football. His roller-skating clue was the word “Husband.” Cow explained, “Not my husband, your husband, Jenny. Listen, this cow is absolutely a lady. However, I have spent some time with your hubby.”
Cow was definitely feeling the 2000s semi-finals theme as that’s when it all came together for him. He recalled packing up a van with his buddies and performing on top of it in front of the Capitol Records building, convinced he’d get a deal. Security threw them out instead.
But, he said, they kept coming back and now his picture hangs in the halls of that building. Visual clues included a gavel, a birthday cake with one candle on it and a newspaper. On-stage, the new clue was a banner reading “MOOOsical.” Cow said, “The 2000s were really, really good to me. So much, in fact, that I got to star in a musical.”
The prior clue package saw Cow really emphasizing how important family is to him. He has kids of his own and despite all the temptations of fame, he’s always made sure to put family first. Perhaps that’s because he didn’t have a dad when he was growing up.
In fact, he said he didn’t have a lot of positive male role models at all, coming up in a house of all women. He also credited this with the fact he’s a sensitive soul. New images included a red boxing glove with a yellow down arrow on it and a crayon drawing of a red heart drawn by his calves — ahem, children.
His on-stage clue came out in a giant purple bowl, out of which Le’Veon pulled a pair of tap shoes. To this, Cow said, “Much like a Super Bowl Halftime Show, I am known for my killer moo-ves.”
In his first clue package, he told us he didn’t even know fame was in his future, believing he was instead destined for a pretty simple life at home. This was despite his dreams of standing out and being a big star. The problem, he said, was that he struggled controlling his emotions. But everything changed when he learned he could write, presumably referring to music. He said he’s since gone on to win multiple Grammys and traveled the world with “hit after hit after hit.”.
Images included the date July 4, a Classic Culinary Cuisine for Cows cookbook and the recipe “Classic Cow Cake,” which he proceeded to mix and bake through the clue package. HIs first on-stage clue came in a popcorn bucket with a “Blockbuster Movie” ticket. He explained, “One of the better things known about me all started with a moo-vie.”
Jenny marinated on Cow hanging with Jenny’s husband, but all she could come up with was Nelly — and this ain’t that — so she threw it to Robin, who again was hearing Ne-Yo’s distinctive tone in those vocals. He helped her remember that New Kids performed with him on their newer song “Single,” making that a rock-solid guess.
Nick wasn’t feeling that guess, bristling at the suggestion and finally declaring when asked if he knew who it was, “I know it ain’t Ne-Yo. And yet, that’s the internet’s favorite guess and has been since virtually the first week. Could they be that off, or is Nick? Ken, instead, thinks it could be Usher, who performed with Donnie at the Michael Jackson memorial.
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(“On the Radio,” Donna Summer) Gazelle was magical in the slower portions of this piece, with a delicacy in her voice that drew us right in. It wasn’t quite as strong when she shifted to the more uptempo part of the piece. Her pitch didn’t seem quite as flawless and she came across like she wasn’t nearly as comfortable singing like that. As such, we had a mixed reaction to the overall performance.
Guesses: While showing a letter with heart stickers for the guys on the show (Ken, Nick, and Robin), Gazelle talked about being the “hammy, performative kid” who grew up putting on shows for her family every night. While she was vastly different from the rest of the fam, her parents dropped everything to support her, uprooting their lives, for which she is so grateful.
At one point in the package, she held a magnifying glass and took a close-up look at the word “MYSTERY. On stage, the roller-derby disco diva brought out a tray adorned with “Island vibes” and a desert island vista. “Hey Nicole, just like you, I too hold the islands close to my heart.”
For her last clue package, Gazelle talked about how much this costume meant to her, as she associates deer with a dear friend she lost shortly before her wedding. We saw a mouse next to a bouquet and dog tags as she talked about his “adventurous spirit” and how the rain that fell during the vows told the couple he was with them.
The Office’s Kate Flannery brought out her on-stage clue, which was a DVD called “Gazelle Love Story.” Gazelle explained, “The 2000s are a special time for me because it was when I had my film debut.” That adds a husband and a timeline to her previous clues.
A major focus of her second clue package was Gazelle’s heritage and unique name. She said she was pressured to change it professionally at just eight years old and casting directors didn’t quite know how to place her because of her “unique look.” Now, she sees herself as a trailblazer for other little girls who look like her.
Images that we saw included a sign reading “Threat Level: 3,” suggesting an entertainment triple threat, as well as a test with the grade A, and a surfboard, which could be a surf movie, a love of the ocean, or even a Teen Choice Award. On stage, Antonio Gates tossed Nick a football that had “Villain” printed across it. Gazelle explained, “I’m not actually a villain, but I can play the part. Gazelle’s got range!”
The first package revealed that she hit up a Broadway show at six years old (the sign in the clue package read Hello Doll! which could mean she saw Hello Dolly!). That sparked her interest in being on the stage, which she says she leaps at any opportunity to do.
One of those opportunities came as a teen when she entered a national talent competition … and “crashed and burned.” After this, she almost swore off singing for good, but she’s too passionate about it. Now, she’s looking to face her fears, which is another reason we suspect singing isn’t what she’s known for.
With a petite frame, that first clue package included a Hawaiian shirt, three statues of bulldogs together, a director’s chair and a camper in the desert. David Spade then brought out an LP with “Movie Soundtrack” printed on it. “Not only do I act in movies, I also sing in them,” Gazelle told Nick.
Nicole took her “island” clue, which only had her again vibing with her Auliʻi Cravalho guess. While she was divine in Moana, we’re not hearing that tone. She then leaned into her Filipino side to find Vanessa Hudgens, but as neither of those are married, it doesn’t really work.
Robin was thinking Hawai’i and wondered if the letter clue was a nod to her last name, guessing Maggie Q. Ken, however, has been sentimentally convinced this is his dear friend Constance Wu, but the internet is definitely not feeling that guess.
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This first round is actually pretty easy for us, though the studio audience has been off the wall with their picks at times. It felt like Cow pretty much ran away with the night, while both Gazelle and S’More were a little more inconsistent in their performances. But, for half a great performance, we’d have to give the edge to Gazelle, sending S’More to immediate unmasking.
Of course, that’s just what we would do. What did the studio audience and panel do with their guesses? Did they get it right and agree with us or did they somehow screw it all up? Nah, they got it right, sending S’More to possible elimination. Thankfully, the panel stood by the vote and didn’t ring the bell for him.
- Robin Thicke: Kevin Richardson
- Jenny McCarthy: Ashley Parker Angel
- Ken Jeong: AJ McLean
- Nicole Scherzinger: Jordan Knight
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Jenny’s guess had the backing of just about everyone on the X/Twitter-sphere, but did all that weight equal being right? He certainly fit the clues and his sound matches what S’More was delivering. In the end, Jenny and the internet can share the win as Ashley Parker Angel was indeed revealed.
“The Masked Singer is unlike any other show on planet Earth,” an unmasked Ashley said. “Such an incredible experience as a performer, seriously … It’s been a phenomenal experience.” He then rocked the house with an unmasked performance of O-Town’s “All or Nothing,” and sounded much more confident than at any point on this show.
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ROUND 2: BATTLE ROYALE
Coming into this round, it did feel like Cow had the momentum, but it also felt like song choice was going to be pivotal. Unfortunately, while Cow seems to have the pipes to navigate almost any vocal style, Gazelle didn’t sound comfortable on the disco.
But we’ve seen everything change with these second chances and knowing they had to tackle Gloria Gaynor’s disco empowerment anthem made it even more daunting and uncertain. It was really going to depend on who feels more connected with the passion behind the song … at least for us.
Gazelle v Cow
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(“I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor) Gazelle was transformed by this song, giving her best performance of the entire competition. Clearly the fear of going home hit pretty hard and galvanized her into giving everything she had. From the slow open to the powerful punches later, Gazelle landed every blow. It’s clear she’s lived this story and knows how to emote it into a performance. Cow followed with a very silky vocal, but it didn’t have that same emotional impact. His voice is just as creamy as Robin said earlier in the night, giving us such a polished performance. It just felt so clinical for a song that oozes emotion. He was almost too clean.
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We know it’s just the first week, but that Battle Royale was about the best argument we could imagine for using the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell because can any of the other groups even match it? Also, after Gazelle packed such a wallop of feeling into her performance and Cow didn’t, it wound up much closer than we anticipated going in.
After that performance, and for the visceral connection alone, we’d give the edge to Gazelle. But we also know that Cow has had a more consistently strong run throughout the season. We have to go with heart, though, on a reality competition show, so our pick was Gazelle with the fear that we would quickly be overruled.
Honestly, by our reckoning, not using the Bell is an upset. After the vote, it marked the end of the journey for Gazelle as Cow’s nearly flawless journey to this point carried him to the Group A Championship and a trip straight to the season finale. Would Gazelle actually be unmasked, or could a last minute reprieve save her?
- Robin Thicke: Maggie Q
- Jenny McCarthy: Shay Mitchell
- Ken Jeong: Constance Wu
- Nicole Scherzinger: Vanessa Hudgens
Ken put so much of his heart and soul into his guess, creating a potentially awkward moment if he’s wrong. Robin hinted at the option of ringing the bell — and we admit we were rooting for it.
Then, Ken made the call and slammed the bell … delaying the unmasking and sending Gazelle straight to the finale. And now, we have to wait even longer to see if it all makes perfect sense and his gut is right, or he’s awkwardly feeling so connected to the wrong celeb.
“Thank you, I am so emotional right now,” said Gazelle. “Thank you so much for saving me.”
Gazelle is going to have to step it up and match her Battle Royale performance in the season finale if she wants to win, but we know she has it in her. We also know that this means the Ding Dong Take It Off Bell is gone for the season and there will be no more saves as Groups B and C bring forth their finales over the next two weeks.
The Masked Singer continues with the Group B Finals as Husky, Sea Queen, and Tiki return to take on “Rock Night” next Wednesday at 8pm ET on Fox.
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