The Masked Singercompleted its Group B Championships Wednesday night and Frog, Kitty, and Banana advanced to join fellow finalists Turtle, Kangaroo, and White Tiger in the show's top contending "Super 9." Sadly, that means that Taco is out despite a rousing performance of The Four Tops' "Can't Help Myself."
What proved even more thrilling than Taco's rendition of the classic Motown tune was finding out just who he is. More on that later. Here's what happened on his road to elimination and Frog, Kitty and Banana's path to the Promised Land:
To kick off the show and put the contestants at ease, Taco, Kitty, Banana, and Frog collaborated as a group to sing the Backstreet Boys' "Larger Than Life," also punctuating this week's "friendship" theme. Guest judge and Season 1 champion T-Pain praised the quartet for coming together while ripping "each other's heads off at the same time." Ever the jokester, judge Ken Jeong quipped that Banana and Taco hugged "the way nature intended it Wednesdays on Fox." Of course, The Masked Singer is not above low-brow double entendres, and this would be the first of several risque "taco" jokes during the night.
Country music is undoubtedly Kitty's wheelhouse, and she wowed the crowd with a saucy take on Miranda Lambert's "Mama's Broken Heart." The first performer of the night sported bedazzled shoes that matched those of host Nick Cannon, and her speaking voice sounded a lot like that of Modern Familystar Sarah Hyland.
This week's clues: To help judges and viewers figure out Kitty's true identity, a masked friend dropped hints about the mysterious feline, saying Kitty has been creative since childhood but was bullied. She also said that while Kitty's voice is angelic, her "dark side" gives her a competitive edge. A bejeweled egg also appeared as a part of the clue package. After her performance, Kitty gave judge Robin Thicke a friendship bracelet that said "fireworks." Kitty added that the first time she met Robin, it was "lit."
Last week's clues: Kitty says she loves to sew and create "modern" outfits for her family. Hmmm. But there was also a Little Red Riding Hood-like cloak. What does that mean?
The guesses: T-Pain said mentions of ghosts by Kitty's friend made him think it's actress Christina Ricci because of her roles in 1995's Casperand The Addams Family movies. Ken, meanwhile, said he thinks Kitty is The Good Placestar Kristen Bell. Last but not least, judge Jenny McCarthy donned a giant Ken mask and bombastically shouted that Kitty is actress Haylie Duff.
Don't let the hard shell fool you. Taco is a total romantic, and his smooth take on "Can't Help Myself" was full of heart and style. Two dancing chefs in inflatable costumes flanked Taco and made the whole number feel light and playful. The dance moves suggested an older personality such Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron.
This week's clues: Taco's friend held what looked like a glass of scotch, hid behind a seafood tower, and said that he and Taco are both dads who help people in need. The two also find the humor in everything, the friend added. There was an emphasis on the letter "M" and "E," suggesting that Taco is possibly an Emmy winner, and a washboard in the background served as a final wink and nudge of some kind. Following the performance, Taco gifted judge Nicole Scherzinger with a friendship bracelet that read "kiss." To further confuse and/or enlighten everyone, Taco said, "Not to be corny, but when I saw you in person, you were perfect." Huh? Jenny said if Nicole was on Taco's talk show, for instance, perhaps he kissed her hello. Nicole then wondered if perhaps Taco was Gene Simmons of Kiss fame.
Last week's clues: Taco said he had a problem with his temper until he met his soulmate. There were also hints that Taco is into sci-fi because of an up-close galaxy picture. Then again, a photograph of astronomical bodies could also have been a nod to Dancing with the Stars.
The guesses: Nicole chose to focus on the voice and not the bracelet. She said originally she thought Taco was talk and game show host Regis Philbin, but after his most recent performance, Nicole switched her guess to crooner Barry Manilow. Nick asked if Nicole had kissed Manilow but before she could answer, Jenny said she has smooched with the veteran singer and songwriter multiple times, causing the audience and panel to chuckle with delight. Robin said he thought Taco was America's Got Talent judge Howie Mandel, and Jenny said she has kissed Mandel too. Ha! Jenny then threw in another guess, and based on past clues, said Taco was Jerry Springer. Channeling his inner Springer, Taco said The Masked Singer teaches us to not rely too much on first impressions and that we could all be nicer to one another. You tell 'em, Taco.
A heartfelt and soulful cover of "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers helped Banana redeem himself after forgetting the words to "Achy Breaky Heart" by country singer Billy Ray Cyrus last week. Banana also upped the ante by giving the performance a slight gospel twinge, making him seem like a southern gentleman such as Jeff Foxworthy or perhaps Bill Engvall. Banana dedicated his performance, which Ken said was arguably his strongest, to his late father because the two were best friends and they loved "Lean On Me."
This week's clues: Two bananas -- maybe Banana's real-life kids -- hid their identities and said the big Banana was their role model. They said that when they were little, Banana taught them how to drive by building them a go-cart track in the backyard. Props, such as a jar of jam and various car parts and accouterments, sat on the table while the younger bananas talked about their hero. Banana gave his friendship bracelet to Jenny after his song and it said, "'90s love." Banana said he and Jenny hung out as friends, and she is a cool person. This led Jenny to guess that Banana is probably race-car driver Michael Andretti. She said the two became friends at the Playboy mansion back in the day.
Last week's clues: Banana said "Git-R-Done" the way Larry the Cable Guy used to, and there was a sign that read "Bananagement Management." There was a pair of cowboy boots and he mentioned the need for career re-branding.
The guesses: Based on his lean and tall physique and a few clues, Nicole guessed country star Brad Paisley. But the voice doesn't quite fit. Ken said Banana has the voice of Larry the Cable Guy, and T-Pain said he picked up Johnny Knoxville vibes.
The well-dressed and choreographed amphibian was the final performer of the night but easily generated the most excitement with The Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb On Me." Frog, a frontrunner and fan favorite, even threw in a few smooth breakdancing foot moves. The latter excited the judges and the audience, inspiring Nicole to call him a "natural performer." Frog then said he had lost his love for music and wanted to quit until The Masked Singer made him believe again.
This week's clues: A personal friend of Frog said she knew him before his career took off but immediately believed he'd be a superstar. Props in the clue package included a comb, organic shampoo, a little purple hat and a green bow tie. The friend said Frog had an entourage even before he was famous and that his first late-night talk show appearance had him up past his bedtime. He gave his friendship bracelet to T-Pain -- much to the chagrin of Ken -- and it read, "All we do is win." Suddenly, T-Pain wondered if the Frog was rapper-turned actor, Ludacris.
Last week's clues: There was a hammer reference -- is this MC Hammer after all? -- this week and last week. And the judges noticed that Frog is a good dancer and singer but that he is also short, and that rules out MC Hammer, who is 6 feet. Alfonso Ribeiro is stout and can dance. Perhaps it is him, as Jenny predicted last time around.
The guesses: Ken had the best guess -- will wonders ever cease? -- and said he believed Frog is actually comedian and actor Tommy Davidson. He even noted The Proud Family reference and Davidson did parody MC Hammer onIn Living Color. Robin said Omarion, and T-Pain agreed that it could be the former boyband star.
As mentioned above, it was Taco who had to pack up his inner goodness and wave farewell in the end. But not before revealing his true identity as ... Tom Bergeron.
The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays 8/7c on Fox.