Entertainment

Awkward! ‘Masked Singer’ Ram revealed to be former Fox employee, Firefly leaves stage in huff

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When Firefly performed on last week’s The Masked Singer Season 7 premiere, for the first time in the series’ history the episode had to pause, after she suffered a mid-performance coughing/choking fit and required immediate medical attention backstage. She rebounded quickly because “in this business, the show must go on,” but this Wednesday, she made another seemingly unscripted retreat from the stage. When she surprisingly landed in the bottom two alongside arguably lesser singer the Ram, the winged diva flew off into the wings in a huff. Awkward!

Fox promos this week teased this as “the bombshell moment no one saw coming” with a clip of judge Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg saying, “They just walked off the stage” — making it seem like this would be the episode featuring the sure-to-be-awkward, controversial appearance by Rudy Giuliani, which reportedly prompted judges Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke to storm off the set in disgust. That didn’t happen this week, but I do understand why Firefly was so taken aback by this week’s surprise development. After all, earlier in the evening, Ken had actually declared her “winner-worthy,” which really is the opposite of “bottom two-worthy.”

However, when Firefly regained her compose and then faced off with the Ram in the first western-style duel of the season (Season 7’s theme is “The Good, The Bad & The Cuddly”), singing Ariana Grande’s “God Is a Woman,” she delivered an epic, smoldering vocal. As Ken put it, the performance “showed how much you want to be here and how much you want to win this thing. You are a fighter.”

Meanwhile, after the Ram sang “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” it was the end of the road for him. But considering that he isn’t a professional singer (as I suspect Firefly is), Ram’s duel and his earlier Foo Fighters cover were quite solid. (Host Nick Cannon called him “pretty impressive.”) The Ram turned out to be veteran sportscaster Joe Buck. Interestingly, Joe’s reveal happened the same day that it was announced that he’d been poached from Masked Singer network Fox, where he’d been the voice of the NFL for 20 years, to sign a new Monday Night Football with ESPN. Obviously that development happened after his Masked Singer run was taped — also awkward! But everyone was all smiles Wednesday, especially Joe’s pal, guest judge Eric Stonestreet, who had guessed Ram’s identity correctly.

And so, Firefly will stick around for at least one more dramatic episode. But next Wednesday, two mystery singers from Season 7’s first good/bad/cuddly bracket will go home, leaving only one mask standing — and Firefly will face stiff competition from Cyclops and Thingamabob. But before all that, let’s assess this week’s other performances and let the guessing game continue.

Firefly (Team Good), “P.Y.T.”

This pretty young insect showed off her stage presence and dancing skills to full effect, even striking what Nick called a “Michael Jackson pose.” Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger exclaimed, “That’s a dancer!” — and she ought to know. “What a way to kick off the show with an effortless performance,” Ken gushed.

The clues: This week’s “mega-clue” was when the Firefly revealed, “Pharrell is one of the major keys of my career.” Previous clues have included a program guide for the Apollo Theater, a framed photograph of Tyler Perry, a Statue of Liberty figurine, and Jenny’s observation that this luminous creature has “dancer’s legs.”

Judges’ guesses: Aisha Tyler, Keyshia Cole, Lauryn Hill.

My guess: Last week I thought this was Lauryn Hill, or possibly Brandy or Monica, but now I am convinced that it’s Teyana Taylor. Teyana signed a deal with Pharrell’s Star Trak Entertainment record label in 2005, and she’s also a professional dancer (and former America’s Best Dance Crew judge). Additionally, she was born in Harlem, N.Y.; had a role in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family; and appeared on It’s Showtime at the Apollo in 2008. Finally, the raspy voice and petite physique just fit the Teyana mold.

Cyclops (Team Bad), “Suspicious Minds”

This cuddly monster had the pleasantly weathered vocals of a veteran country crooner, which the judges said sounded naggingly familiar. “Your voice resonated completely different this week,” Robin noted.

The clues: This week’s “mega-clue” was a meteorite that crashed to Earth in 1988. Last week, we saw a Southeast-pointing compass, a cowboy-hatted turtle, and a comic book, and Cyclops confessed that he is “always cast as the villain.”

Judges’ guesses: Chris Pratt, John Lithgow, Rob Thomas.

My guess: I think this Hootie & The Blowfish frontman-turned-country solo star Darius Rucker. The Cyclops really did sound like him this time around. The compass could be pointing to Darius’s hometown of Charleston, S.C.; and the turtle could be a reference to the ocean, where blowfish reside; and the “villain” comment could refer to all the flak Hootie got in their heyday. Plus Darius is known to be a massive comic book geek and Hootie & The Blowfish do have a song called “Earth Stopped Cold at Dawn.” The year 1988 could be around the time that the band started gigging locally.

Thingamabob (Team Cuddly), “Perfect”

“A lot of people think I’m big and scary,” said this beast, but he showcased his softer side with this Ed Sheeran love song. Ken was actually moved to tears, for some reason, declaring this his favorite performance of the season so far and telling Thingamabob, “You just connected with me, man. This is why this show is so special. You are why I do this show.” Robin said, “We can feel what kind of human you are when you sing” and declared Thingamabob Season 7’s “absolute frontrunner.”

The clues: This week’s “mega-clue” was a shield and trident, because Thingamabob came to the show “ready for battle.” Last week, we saw the “Hotel California,” a fishing tackle box, Nick Cannon’s old short-lived Masked Singer character the Bulldog, an eagle, a bell, and a charity donation box, plus his creature said he “grew up with rock music” and it “transformed” him.

Judges’ guesses: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Omar Benson Miller, Jason Momoa.

My guess: I really do think this is a wrestler… but it’s not the Rock. It’s wrestler/rocker Chris Jericho, as both Jenny and I guessed last week. Along with the shield and trident, the tackle, bulldog, and bell also seem like wrestling-specific clues. And while Chris is known for singing in the metal band Fozzy, compare this week’s tender Masked Singer performance to his “Total Eclipse of Heart” lark here and it’s clear he’s also capable of taking on ballads.

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