The government shutdown has lurched into its 34th day. East Coast temperatures have wildly rocketed from seven to nearly 60 degrees this week. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has canceled the President’s State Of The Union speech in the House of Representatives. But none of this matters, cultured citizens, because Fox has delivered us a new episode of The Masked Singer.
With every week that passes, I feel so tapped into my source while watching qualified experts Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger as they attempt to guess which mega-superstar on stage is behind the various disguises. Added bonus for Wednesday (Jan. 23) night: Comedian Joel McHale returns to the panel. Decked out in jeans and a sweatshirt, he looks like a guy who might have perhaps been on the way to pick up a six-pack and condoms at Rite Aid, but selflessly thought, “You know what, no — I’m gonna hang a left, drive to the studio and lend my wisdom and light to America tonight.” Thanks, Joel.
With the masked audience members bouncing and gyrating like extras in the funkiest, sexiest scenes in Eyes Wide Shut, it’s time for week four of the country’s favorite new existential cabaret to swing into action. Here’s how it went down.
Rabbit sings Avicii & Aloe Blacc’s “Wake Me Up”
The worst-kept secret (to everyone but the panelists) is that Rabbit is probably *NSYNC member JC Chasez. “I found safety in a group, but the sometimes not getting to be yourself can leave you feeling boxed in,” the costumed mystery man says, with a nod to the doll boxes in *NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna Be Me” video from 2000. He also hints at the boy band’s Disney amusement park origins in Orlando, Florida.
After singing the Avicii and Aloe Blacc collaboration “Wake Me Up,” several of the five panelists finally begin to wise up. Nicole Scherzinger is the first one to suggest that it might be JC — and she points out that her first girl group, Eden’s Crush, toured with *NSYNC.
When asked by Nicole if Rabbit ever ever spent time on the road together, the cotton-tailed crooner gives this non-answer: “I’ve seen many, many performances in my past… There have been just too many people for me to remember.”
Alien takes on The Cardigans’ “Lovefool”
Given that Alien constantly refers to her famous family, I’m torn between thinking she’s a Jackson or a Hilton. The fact that she hints “you may think I’m out of fashion” doesn’t help swing the pendulum either way, and only further confuses the already-clueless five at the panelists’ table.
After Alien’s mediocre take on “Lovefool,” however, I’m downgrading my assumption from Janet to La Toya. A low-watt bulb must have finally gone off in Nicole Scherzinger’s head, too, as she states, “It kind of gave me, like, Jackson vibes. Somebody from the Jackson family.”
The clues Alien drops are that she is “a quadruple threat” who has “recorded many things.”
Raven belts out Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”
Following Raven’s clues that she lost her beloved and has newfound freedom, Jenny McCarthy and Robin Thicke believe that the feathered performer is onetime View co-host Sherri Shepherd. Side note: Watching Jenny do the twist while Raven sings Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” is a Masked Singer season one highlight. That said, the bar is not particularly high.
Meanwhile, Ken Jeong brings up the fact that he was in Ride Along 2 with Sherri Shepherd, which prompts Robin Thicke to ask Raven, “Have you ever been in a movie with Dr. Ken?” Joel butts in to clarify: “Wait, Wait. Have you ever been in a good movie with Ken?”
“Only in my dreams,” Raven responds.
Poodle trills Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”
Poodle basically gives away that she’s a stand-up comic by stating in her clues package, “Whenever I want to practice new material, I turn to my best friends.”
Despite the fluffy diva putting her all into a rendition of “Time After Time” (complete with a shirtless dancer pushing her on a swing on stage), the panelists can’t quite make out who’s behind the mask.
“Someone who’s in a robot poodle costume with Phantom of the Opera half-naked behind them, it all made sense to me,” Joel offers.
The only added clue Poodle barks to the stumped panelists is that she’s “been fired multiple times.” This causes Jenny McCarthy to seize on the idea that it could be Kathy Griffin under all that pink fluff.
Bee tackles Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven”
Let’s all give some props to Bee, who, along with Rabbit, certainly comes off as one of the few participants in this televised insanity with real vocal talent. I previously wondered of Bee could be Chaka Khan in disguise, but the clues package this time around, which features peaches — as in Georgia peaches — is a sign that the buzz-worthy performer (sorry; the show, it’s turning me into Nick Cannon) is likely “Midnight Train to Georgia” legend Gladys Knight.
Bee hits some stunning notes worthy of a seven-time Grammy winner while covering Bruno Mars’ 2012 smash “Locked Out Of Heaven,” and Robin and Jenny suspect it’s the onetime Pips frontwoman under all the yellow and black.
Bee’s only clue to the panelists: “Take me to court.” Okay.
Eliminated: This week, Poodle kisses this particular kennel goodbye. The mask comes to reveal a true surprise: Margaret Cho!
Ken literally jumps on the table. “Ken, I thought you would know,” Margaret says — given that she played Jeong’s sister on his ABC sitcom Dr. Ken.
Ken makes up for it by declaring that Margaret is “a pioneer in Asian-American comedy. You are the reason that I am a comedian! I love you so much, you have no idea.”
And with that, Poodle is just another dog left out on the streets.