[Spoiler alert: This story contains the identity of the eliminated contestant on Wednesday night’s (April 8) episode of The Masked Singer.]
We might still be in quarantine as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps us sheltered in place, but The Masked Singer continues to offer the kind of escapism we need to a world where turtles, not turmoil, reign. This week’s episode started a little differently, as the judges had to enter security before getting onstage and we became privy to quite a few interesting items in their pockets. Nicole Scherzinger had more than a dozen “burner phones” in her purse because of her many “Instagram accounts,” Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg toted peanuts and magazines, Robin Thicke had an alarming stash of combs and mirrors (perhaps to keep his perfectly coiffed mane in place) and Ken Jeong carried a lunchbox with his face.
After the judges finally gained access into the building, Yvette Nicole Brown was revealed as the guest judge for the special Face-Off edition of the singing competition and shared her nickname for Jeong. “Yes, Ken and I call each other bubby,” she said. “It comes from our Community time when we were lovers. We were lovers on Community, and so we call each other bubby to this day.”
Night Angel kicked off the show and came out swinging with Shania Twain’s uber-hit “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” and Kangaroo returned the jabs with Jordin Sparks’ “No Air” — which was definitely ironic, because the judges have previously guessed the marsupial could actually be Sparks. The star threw the judges “the biggest curve of them all,” admitting the show “was the first time she has ever sang in front of anyone,” giving Scherzinger “face goosebumps.”
Sadly, the ring was too much for the Kangaroo and she was knocked out of the show after an audience vote, but not before the judges guessed she could be India.Arie, Lala Anthony, Keira Knightley, Blac Chyna and Ayesha Curry. But then McCarthy guessed Jordyn Woods and she was right! The Kangaroo was revealed to be reality star-turned-beauty mogul Woods, 22, who is currently in quarantine working on a debut album.
Billboard spoke to Woods before her elimination about shaking off the nerves, knocking out haters, singing with Chaka Kahn, and why she might just need to slide into Turtle’s DMs.
Did you watch The Masked Singer before you appeared on the show?
Yes I did, because my vocal coach actually is one of the lead vocal coaches for the artists working on the show. He suggested I watch it, so I gave it a chance and I was like, “Wait, this is one of my favorite shows.” And then I got the opportunity to be on it, so it was just unreal.
Did the kangaroo costume hold any special meaning for you?
It was just different. I felt like it was a conversation starter, gender-neutral, and I wanted something that kind of fooled people and had a little bit of mystery. It wasn’t really about the appearance, it was about what was within, and I think that’s what my whole message is about. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it’s about what’s inside of you. And I felt like people were really shocked to hear my voice come out of the kangaroo costume.
Was there a reason the kangaroo was wearing a boxing outfit?
Well, you know, kangaroos are fighters. They are extremely strong animals. I’ve always been just the rock, and that’s just something I’ve been throughout my whole life: something that is strong and solid and doesn’t go out without a fight. And that’s just throughout my whole life, so I think that they resonated with my personality.
Was it difficult performing in the costume?
I don’t know how much it weighed. I will say it took some getting used to. It’s definitely claustrophobic. I have layers, so you know it be like, “OK, my underneath and then my leggings and then this has to snap on and then my robe has to snap to my head and then the chains.” So it just took time. You had to always give us 15 minutes even if it was like, “Oh, we’re putting on the shoes.” The Masked Singer does a really good job of making sure that there’s always someone there to guide you, to give you water, to have a fan. They don’t leave you hanging. They make it the absolute best experience that it can be in a hot and heavy costume.
What was the hardest part of performing on The Masked Singer?
I would say the hardest part was just making sure I was breathing and trying to make sure my voice was being projected properly through the mask. Also, my tail was pretty heavy. I had to make sure when I was swinging it around I wasn’t hitting people.
What was the best part about being on the show?
Man, everything. It’s hard to say. I’m sad it’s over, but I would say my nerves were shot every performance. I was so nervous, but the response from the crowd and the judges after you’re done was just such a rewarding feeling. To be up there and to be compared to, you know, at first they said India.Arie and Jordin Sparks. They always compared me to amazing vocalists that I looked up to. So to hear that was just the craziest feeling. Everyone saw the kangaroo jumping and thought I was in character, but it was actually me jumping from excitement. I wasn’t in character.
What judge comparison surprised you the most?
I think Robin Thicke said India.Arie, and she’s like in my top list of favorite people ever, so that just made my whole life.
I was in Group A. We all did a group number, and I was singing with Miss Monster. When I found out that Miss Monster was Chaka Khan after she got eliminated, I was like, “You’re joking. I just performed with Chaka Kahn onstage?” Yeah, it was crazy. It was even a blessing to be able to make it as far as I did. Of course, you know, the competitive nature in me wishes that I was still onstage to sing again, but I went from never performing outside of my shower in my house to performing after the Super Bowl for the first episode. It was just a huge accomplishment for me and it motivated me to keep going.
How will you keep it going? Do you have aspirations to record an album?
Yeah, I actually write music. This pandemic has kind of put a pause to me getting it done. But there’s music for sure coming. I don’t really know what my goal is, I just know that after something like this and leaving the show I have to do something. You know when the judges found out it was me, they were like, “This is going to change your life. This is something what you should be doing. You should be doing music. You have a gift.” And of course you know that sometimes the best things in life just happen. So you probably will hear some songs from me, maybe an album. Well, definitely you’ll hear some stuff for me hopefully soon and within 2020. So just put me on the cover of Billboard in a kangaroo costume!
Did any of your friends or family figure out you were on the show?
Yes! Right after the first episode, I had a couple of friends hit me with the kangaroo emoji or my aunt texted me, “I’m so proud of you.” And I’m like, “What?” And my friends sent me a picture of the kangaroo like, “I know your voice from anywhere.” And I’m like, “I can’t respond to you.” Then if I don’t respond, it looks suspicious. So It was difficult. I’m not a good liar at all. So it was difficult.
And you don’t know who you’re performing with at any time?
No, it’s just like how they say. You don’t know who’s onstage with you. You could be next to Beyoncé and you wouldn’t even know. I don’t get to watch everyone’s performance either. Like I might be passing and hear two seconds, but it’s not enough to judge someone on their voice. So you never know who you’re onstage with. In rehearsals, they do a good job keeping us extremely separate. We don’t really come in contact. I never really even had one of those experiences in passing where I saw another person. Security is real tight.
Your song choices spanned many musical genres. What was behind your choices of songs by Rihanna, Amy Winehouse, Dixie Chicks, etc.?
A lot of these songs were different for me. I felt like I wanted to do a variety of styles. A lot of the song choices were just really for different vocal showcases. The Amy Winehouse song [“You Know I’m No Good”] was one of my favorites. So that was one of my favorite performances. The Dixie Chicks song [“Not Ready to Make Nice”], I felt like the people would want. It was definitely different performing country-type songs, but I feel like that’s an element of the show, not putting yourself in a box and just taking the risk and trying all different types of songs.
A lot of your clue packages mentioned “haters” and “experiencing bullying in your past.” Do you have any advice on how to deal with both of those things?
Just put on the kangaroo costume. Just kidding. Basically when someone’s bullying you or being mean to you, it’s normally because they’re dealing with something in their personal life and they’re taking it out on you. It’s never something to take personal. So just understand that normally they’re unhappy with themselves and that’s why they’re projecting it to you. So just keeping you and don’t listen to what other people have to say, because it doesn’t even matter at all.
In one of the clue packages you mentioned wanting to get back in the game. So what’s next for the kangaroo?
Well, honestly, God laughed at all of our plans we had for 2020, but definitely there’s gonna be some music from me this year. I am just in entrepreneur mode. I’ve been thinking of different business concepts while l I’ve been trapped in the house. I’ve made different mood boards. There’s a couple of different businesses I want to start after this and more stuff in the fitness and mental health genre. I would love to keep acting. I have a movie coming out this year. But I never thought I was going to be on one of the biggest shows in the country singing. So like I said: There’s plans, but obviously God has other plans. So who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be on a world tour and Billboard will talk to me again and maybe not! I’m kind of trying to be a Renaissance woman and do everything.
Who do you think is going to win The Masked Singer?
I don’t know who’s left, but I’m a huge fan of Turtle. He was in my group so I got to experience being around him a little bit. I love the Turtle. I can’t say that I know who everyone else is, I mean I don’t even know who he is, but I don’t really know who the other characters are, but Turtle is one of my favorites.
Well, you can always hop into his DMs…
Right, but, I mean, you don’t know, he might be married.