What in Gritty’s name did we just watch? That’s the question we can’t shake after watching Wednesday’s premiere of FOX’s infectiously entertaining singing competition, “The Masked Singer.” It’s so convoluted and corny — and we can’t wait to tune in next week along with the other 9.2 million viewers who watched last night.
This revamp of the popular South Korean reality show “King of the Masked Singer” features a dozen “celebrities” clad in crazy Gritty-like garb warbling tunes before a studio audience.
Hosted by former “America’s Got Talent” escapee Nick Cannon— sporting what appears to be Samuel L. Jackson’s afro-sheen wig from “Pulp Fiction” — the show features a surreal panel of judges: Robin Thicke (fresh from his $5 million payout to Marvin Gaye’s family), Jenny McCarthy (billed as a “pop culture guru”), funny guy Ken Jeong (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and the vocally gifted Nicole Scherzinger, who seems determined to extend her run of reality TV slumming, I mean judging, on both sides of the pond.
For the record, none of these judges do any judging. They are too busy doing a whole lotta guessing — mostly of the clueless variety. McCarthy is especially prone to shouting out the names of A-listers (Hugh Jackman, Justin Bieber, to name two) who would never stoop to appearing on this series — yet.
Still, the singers’ identities are kept refreshingly secret (btw: hard to believe they haven’t leaked, seeing as how this taped in June) thanks to beastly disguises — and their disspeaking voices are distorted.
How it works: The studio audience votes for their fave singer in each face-off, while the panel of pros determines which celeb from the bottom three goes home at the end of each episode. Performances by the Peacock, Hippo, Monster, Unicorn, Deer and Lion instantly lit up the Twitterverse — with the show’s official Twitter account dropping clues and viewers throwing out possible names behind the masks.
Here are some of the top guesses for the hidden identities, starting with the first contestant to get the hook:
THE HIPPO: This big fella performed an energetic version of Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative,” but since he couldn’t really sing (Thicke called him out for singing over a track), the judges panel immediately pegged as an “athlete.”
Guesses ranged from Deion Sanders (because of his iconic touchdown dance moves) and Odell Beckham Jr. I thought for sure it was Von Miller because of those distinctive eyeglasses.
Alas, it was Antonio Brown — capping a high-profile week for the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver. Brown reportedly had a dramatic falling out with teammate Ben Roethlisberger, one which is reportedly irreparable enough for him to request a trade.
Sure, Brown was the first to get the boot — but not before whipping off that hippo head and flashing those pearly whites and washboard abs for the thirst-trappers tuning in at home.
“And ladies, I mean, how handsome is this guy?” Thicke hyped. “You gotta see him without his helmet more often, right?”
Settle down, sir. Did you learn nothing from all that “Blurred Lines” backlash?
The Peacock: This colorfully costumed contestant teased himself as a showbiz veteran from the age of 5 (“it’s been a while since your mom had a poster of me on her bedroom wall”), one who knew Michael Jackson and stands 5-foot-9-inches.
The Twitterverse thinks Donny Osmond is a no-brainer — but was the King of Pop really his pal? (And does Donny have the pipes to bust out that soulful version of “The Greatest Show” from the hit Hugh Jackman/Zac Efron flick?)
Alfonso Ribeiro might be a better fit. Long before he danced the Carlton on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” he was a child star who got his big break in Broadway’s “The Tap Dance Kid,” circa 1983. The aforementioned King of Pop was even his mentor for a hot minute — Ribeiro co-starred in the infamous Pepsi commercial-gone-awry that ended with Jackson’s hair set aflame.
Plus, Ribeiro is a veteran of this sort of thing after 2007, 2015 and 2017 stints on ABC’s similar but not nearly as fun “Dancing with the Stars.”
One peacock-eyed viewer proffered Neil Patrick Harris since he does magic. Yes, sleight of hand was name-dropped as part as a side skill in this contestant’s extensive repertoire.
The Unicorn — Growing up in one of the richest neighborhoods (Beverly Hills), Unicorn always wanted to be a singer — but her dreams were silenced by neigh-sayers.
“I haven’t seen this type of stellar performance from a horse since the Kentucky Derby,” Jeong said as the Unicorn struggled sweetly through Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.”
Armchair pundits’ top pick: Tori Spelling — this tracks. The spawn of legendary TV producer Aaron Spelling talked openly about her mother, Candy, criticizing her looks as a small child, and critics have been unkind to her non-stop reality TV rotation and well-publicized money woes. Full disclosure: We hope it’s Tori. There’s something oddly moving about struggle for acceptance.
Plus: Unicorn said her nickname is “Bird,” and Reddit says Tori means bird in Japanese so that settles that, right?
Hotel heiress and DJ extraordinaire Paris Hilton is another hot take. Yeah, lots of people have said she can’t do lots of things well, but she went right ahead and did them anyways, so — not the best fit.
A dark horse guess: Rebecca Black of “Friday” infamy. Well, word is she is looking for a comeback.
The Lion — Before launching into a strutting rendition of Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got),” this contestant offered this pre-performance tidbit: Lion comes from “Hollywood loyalty” (she later admits “there are a lot of women in my pride.”)
This sparked the top online guess of the night: Khloe Kardashian, of course.
“Her posture was perfect, her legs were in front, she shook her hips right on time. I’m telling you that that’s a well-trained professional,” Thicke raved
“Robin, stop hitting on the livestock,” Jeong said.
Sure, long-legged Khloe fits — but there are two other intriguing breakouts:
Rumer Willis — she’s leggy, she sings (FOX’s “Empire”), she dances (“DWTS”) — and she has a litter of sisters and one very famous Mama in her “pride.”
“One of the Braxton sisters” was another guess tossed out there, but Aubrey O’Day was the other guess that grabbed our attention.
The former Danity Kane frontwoman could be a good fit. She has reality TV experience from Diddy’s “Making the Band” — and with all her tabloidian distractions, people forget she actually has a big voice.
Of course Jenny McCarthy kept making dumbass guesses like “Lady Gaga.” Get it together, Jenny, you are a Pop Culture Guru now! You know a soon-to-be Oscar nominee is not going to let the likes of you being the judge of her anytime soon.
The Monster — This top-heavy, one-eyed ball of fur narrated his intro-package with a flair for the dramatic: “I am a monster because that’s what the world labeled me. I was at the top of my game, but the game turned on me. So I retreated into my cave to take a break from the public eye.”
As manipulative maudlin music swells in to underscore The Monster’s hard-luck tale, Jeong quips, “I think he’s done some time.”
We’re drawing a total blank on this one: Who would actually go on TV and cop to being a monster with belting out Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”? This dude actually can carry a tune. Oh, it just dawned us: This is Cee Lo Green.
The “F*** You” singer ticks all the boxes. He was a pop-culture juggernaut who burned bright — then burned out amid a series of controversies, from an exploding phone to accusations of sexual assault.
The Deer — This engagingly goofy critter crooned “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons.
Gridiron guesses ranged from Ben Roethlisberger to Peyton Manning (“he was a COLT AND A BRONCO!,” one fan tweeted) — but NFL legend Terry Bradshaw came out on top.
Terry is a good fit: Social media warriors say he runs some sort of a horse farm, he’s one several Super Bowls (a clue in the intro package) — and that Southern twang sounds oddly familiar to anyone who’s watched “Failure to Launch.”
Oh, and the Deer and Terry both stand 6-foot, 3-inches tall.
Tune in at 9 p.m. Wednesday to catch the next installment of this guilty pleasure. Missed the first episode? Catch up with it any time on FoxNow or Hulu.
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