Just in time for coronation week, on Wednesday The Masked Singer Season 9 aired its British Invasion Night, as quarterfinalists the California Roll, Medusa, and Macaw rolled, slithered, and soared one step closer to being crowned Masked Singer royalty. However, one contestant quite familiar with wearing crowns — as a past winner of Miss Rhode Island, Miss USA, and Miss Universe — the UFO, was dethroned and de-masked. But once that one-eyed mask was off, she proved that she’s more than just a pretty face.
Based on past modelesque clues, the judges had figured out that this alien beauty and futuristic fashionista was someone like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Molly Sims, Lily Collins, or Kaia Gerber; I’d actually guessed she was Cara Delevingne. But no one had an inkling that this was Sports Illustrated swimsuit star Olivia Culpo, because no one knew Olivia could sing as well as she did on Britpop hits like last month’s “Yellow” by Coldplay or this week’s “Tears Dry on Their Own” by Amy Winehouse.
“I didn’t know you could sing! … That takes a lot of guts, to get up there,” gasped judge Nicole Scherzinger.
When host Nick Cannon asked Olivia if her successful Masked Singer run had made her consider pursuing a music career, she quipped, “The singing in the shower that I do, I’m just going to make it a little more professional. I’m just going to bump it up a notch.” But more seriously, she confessed, “Although I had a mask on, this is more of my personality that I got to share — for the first time. So much of what I feel like i have to do is not about that. People don’t want to see your personality. This was really, really fun for me.”
So, now that the UFO has reached her own final frontier, let’s assess and guess the three contestants that are moving on to the semifinals. The UFO may have thrown me off and ruined my Season 9 track record, but when it comes to these three, not to sound like Ken Jeong or anything, but I know exactly who they are.
First, harmonic quintet California Roll, who so epically belted Radiohead’s “Creep” this week that Nick gasped, “I don’t know if we’ve ever witnessed anything like that!” The judges guessed that this sushi sensation might be the cast of The Lion King, Hamilton, High School Musical, or Pitch Perfect. But it’s impossible to imagine the Roll being anyone other than a three-time Grammy-winning group that was launched by another talent competition: Pentatonix (which was Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg’s wildly applauded guess this week). That creative “Creep” arrangement alone made this obvious — two of Pentatonix’s Grammys have been for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella — but all of their clues really sealed the deal.
One California Roll clue was a tiger, and Pentatonix covered “Eye of the Tiger” when they won The Sing-Off Season 3 finale. The Roll has “rubbed shoulders” with Dolly Parton, and Pentatonix won another Grammy for their “Jolene” duet with Dolly. A “White House” clue was a reference to PTX’s performance there. One member has done Broadway (Kirstin Maldonado was in Kinky Boots); another recently got married (Matt Sallee); one is a “DJ all night long” (Mitch Grassi, who moonlights as darkwave act Messer); and one of them, the Roll’s main singer, sounded a lot like Scott Hoying, who has covered “Creep” before. But probably the biggest tipoff was a mention of “5 billion and growing” — roughly the number of YouTube views that Pentatonix have racked up during their stellar and unorthodox career.
Next, the Medusa, who officially got back in the game on last week’s special “Battle of the Saved” episode and proved with this week’s “fearless” performance of Adele’s “Someone Like You” that she deserved that second chance. (“That’s how you Me-du it!” Robin Thicke proclaimed.) The judges once thought she was Lorde or Kesha, but this week, when the Medusa revealed that she is a mother, those two singers were immediately ruled out. The judges then changed their guesses to Ellie Goulding, Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor, Amy Lee, Halsey, or Ashlee Simpson, but only Nicole suggested alt-rock artist Bishop Briggs, who actually performed at Coachella last year while in her third trimester of pregnancy. And I’m sticking with that guess as well: The Medusa is Bishop.
This singer with an “alias” is a “dancer in the dark” who grew up “far from the spotlight” — and “Dark Side” singer Bishop, whose real name is Sarah Grace McLaughlin, is the daughter of Scottish parents from the East Dunbartonshire, Scotland town of Bishopbriggs. (Another past Medusa clue was a Scotty dog.) The Medusa also mentioned on NYC Night, the episode on which she was first saved, that “New York, New York” is her dad’s favorite karaoke song, and she grew up singing it with him. That ties in to two other clues — an international plane ticket and the year 1996 — because Bishop moved to Japan with her family at ‘96 and sang in public for the first time at a Tokyo karaoke bar.
Other Medusa clues have included the Super Bowl (Bishop’s track “Wild Horses” was in an Acura Super Bowl commercial); a “True Love” chest tattoo (Bishop has a song called “Tattooed on My Heart”); Buckingham Palace (Bishop was born in London); a framed portrait of Chris Martin (she has toured with Coldplay); rainbow-backlit palm trees (a Coachella reference); and a DVD cover that boasted “$340 million sold,” which the Medusa held up while saying, “Sometimes success comes in the greyest of places.” (Bishop’s cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” was in Fifty Shades Freed, which grossed a reported $340 million.) She also said she’s “technically been here before,” and Season 6’s champion, Jewel (aka the Queen of Hearts), memorably covered Bishop’s hit “River.” And, of course, there was a bishop chess-piece clue, too.
And finally, the Macaw. Based on this feathered friend and fan favorite’s excellent performances so far, I think he has what it taakes to fly all the way to the finale — and I have a feeling it won’t be his first finale on the Fox network. The other judges guessed Gavin DeGraw, Macaulay Culkin, Darren Criss, Ryan Cabrera, Zayn Malik, Elijah Wood, or Hoobastank’s Doug Robb, but this has to be Nicole’s guess: American Idol Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta.
The pure, pristine vocals were almost enough to figure out this rainbow-winged singer’s identity, but the (also very obvious) clues also add up. This quiet crooner has said the Macaw is “everything that I’m not: flashy and confident”; confessed that “the pressure to always be ‘the good son’ has brought me so much anxiety”; and said he’s been performing since a young age but music “definitely didn’t start out as a passion,” with his dad bribing him with quesadillas as a child to get him to sing at a local Mexican restaurant. All this aligns with David’s well-publicized struggles with anxiety and his father Jeff Archuleta’s Idol-era reputation for being a pushy, domineering dadager. We also saw a jar of salsa — a reference to David’s Honduran mother, who was a salsa dancer and singer — and a silver medal, a reference to David’s second-place Idol finish. “I didn’t think I’d be to handle the pressure of being on a stage like this again,” the Macaw confessed this week.
And Wednesday, after belting Elton John’s “Your Song” — a “beautiful, beautiful performance” that gave Jenny “chills” and Robin called “outstanding” and enough to “win the championship” — the Macaw declared, “Acceptance is something I’ve struggled with. … After going through a lot of life transitions, I feel I’m able to spread my wings and show my true colors. … Being onstage in this costume makes me feel like I’m being myself.” The last time he was on the show, the Macaw revealed, “This is the year I decided to be brave not just onstage, but in my [personal] life.” All of this also points to David, who recently came out as being on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum at age 30.
It’s gotta be Archie! And maybe he can win the entire competition this time, and not only do what past American Idol/Masked Singer alumni Chris Daughtry, Todrick Hall, Tori Kelly, and Katharine McPhee could not, but also finally bring justice, peace, and closure to those poor viral crying fangirls, 15 years after he controversially lost that “David vs. David” showdown to David Cook on Idol.
But first, before the big May 17 finale, the Macaw, California Roll, and Medusa will face off next week in what just might be the most fiercely competitive semifinals round in Masked Singer history. See you then.
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