Contestant ordered to keep mask on, first in historic ‘Masked Singer’

The Medusa is saved from elimination by the judges for the first time in ‘The Masked Singer’ history. (Photo: Fox)

Wednesday was New York Night The masked singer, and as the classic Sinatra song goes, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. However, one contestant, the Medusa, almost not making, and she was about to be exposed… when, in a Masked singer first, the judges chose to save a contestant from the brink of elimination.

“For the first time on this show, we have to save someone! We love you!” yelled Judge Nicole Scherzinger, as the needle scratched on that Who number. Host Nick Cannon instructed the studio audience to stop chanting, “Take it off, take it off,” and instructed the shocked, sobbing Medusa to stop unscrewing her scaly headdress.

The Medusa confessed that she “didn’t wear waterproof mascara” behind her mask, and joked that the snakes nesting on her head also howled, saying, “After I heard the California Roll [more on that contestant in a moment]i knew they won – and I was so embarrassed! Thank you so much. This means more to me than you will ever know.”

The Medusa is told not to take off her mask, just as 'The Masked Singer' host Nick Cannon was about to reveal her identity.  (Photo: Fox)

The Medusa is told not to remove her mask, just as ‘The Masked Singer’ host Nick Cannon was about to reveal her identity. (Photo: Fox)

The Medusa cries after the judges save her at the last minute in

The Medusa cries after the judges rescue her at the last minute in “The Masked Singer.” (Photo: Fox)

As explained during the season 9 premiere two weeks ago, there’s a new twist this year called the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell that allows the judges to unanimously save one celebrity cosplayer per category from elimination. The judges didn’t use it for Dick Van Dyke, Sara Evans, or Howie Mandel, or even Debbie Gibson, which was a controversial call. But finally, this week – the last week for group A – the bell rang. Let’s be honest, there was Noway the judges were able to let the Medusa go home after she sang a magical, ethereal indie version of “New York, New York,” which Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg raved about, “We’re all so speechless right now!” If you don’t have shelves of Grammys on your wall, I will be terribly surprised. That was one of the best, most unique performances to date.”

All this, however not means the Medusa, who was the reigning queen going into this week, successfully defended her crown and advanced to the quarterfinals. No, that honor went to the new Group A champion, the aforementioned California Roll (an act that probably actually do have racks of Grammys) — following that fishy quintet’s harmonic, Broadway-esque performance of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” (of which Ken Jeong said Mother Monster herself would be proud) and their equally epic a cappella deconstruction of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” during their battle royale against the Medusa (which Ken said was the most competitive battle in the series’ history). Instead, the Medusa will have to battle its way back into competition against the other rescued contestants from the Ding-Dong-Bell later this season. But before all that happens, and before we get to a new group of mysterious celebrities with next week’s Group B series… WHO is the medusa?

This week Nicole thought the Medusa could be Lorde, Florence Welch or Shirley Manson (one of this week’s new clues was a Scottish Terrier puppy, and Shirley is from Edinburgh), while Ken suspected another Scottish singer… uh, Susan Boyle. Robin Thicke guessed Kesha and Jenny guessed Halsey. As for me, I have been for weeks convinced that this serpentine diva is Fergie, and so is the rest of the internet; in fact, even has the MVPea in first place on the leaderboard, with a 33% chance. But now, based on this week’s clues, including the Scotty dog, I believe the Medusa is that betting site’s 11.1% longshot option: alt-rock artist Bishop Briggs.

Let’s review all the clues. This ‘dancer in the dark’ grew up ‘far from the limelight’ – and ‘Dark Side’ singer Bishop, whose real name is Sarah Grace McLaughlin, is the daughter of Scottish parents from the town of Bishopbriggs in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland. She also said this week that “New York, New York” is her dad’s favorite karaoke song, and that she grew up singing with him; this all ties into last week’s clue, an international plane ticket and the year 1996, because Bishop, who was born in ’92, moved to Japan with her family at the age of 4 and sang in public for the first time in a karaoke bar in Tokyo.

Other clues include 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 opened for Coldplay on tour); rainbow-lit palm trees (she’s played Coachella twice); and a DVD cover that read, “$340 million sold,” which the Medusa held aloft as he said, “Sometimes success comes in the grayest of places” (Bishop’s cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart” arrived Fifty Shades Liberated, which reportedly grossed $340 million). She also said that she’s “technically been here before,” and Season 6’s champion, Jewel (aka the Queen of Hearts), memorably covered Bishop’s “River.” And, oh yes – and there was also that hint of a bishop’s chess piece. Duh.

As for this week’s actual elimine, the cool-as-ice Polar Bear, he was revealed as the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Grandmaster Flash, representing his hometown of the Bronx – which he put on the hip-hop map decades ago – fitting on The masked singerNew York night. (“Where I’m from, it’s nothing but swag,” he boasted.) The Polar Bear was cut from the competition after giving a less than Bell-worthy performance of Blondie’s super-soprano “Rapture,” but I appreciated how he tipped his sideways cap to another iconic New York music act who “changed the game.”

After all, Flash was the partial inspiration for “Rapture,” which became the first US No. 1 single to feature rap vocals and the first rap video to play on MTV. And Blondie’s Chris Stein also worked on the 1983 soundtrack/score Wild style, the first major hip-hop movie using Flash. And I imagine Chris Stein and Debbie Harry couldn’t think of a better tribute than to see their old friend in a bear suit topped with an old-skool tracksuit, a funky-fresh version of their crossover classic vibrating while a freaky Statue of Liberty throws some pop-locking movements. Flash is fast, Flash is indeed cool.

As for the surviving/reigning California Roll, the judges thought they might be the cast of The lionking musical, High school musicalor Pitch perfectlybut it’s hard to imagine they are everyone except for a three-time Grammy-winning group launched by another talent show: Pentatonix. A 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 PTX won a Grammy for their “Jolene” duet with Dolly. One member has done Broadway (Kirstin Maldonado was in Kinky boots); another recently married (Matt Sallee); one is a “DJ all night long” (Mitch Grassi, who moonlights as darkwave act Messer); and one of them, the lead singer of the Roll, certainly sounded a lot like Scott Hoying. But probably the biggest clue was a mention of “5 billion and growing” – roughly the amount of YouTube views Pentatonix has accumulated over their stellar and unorthodox career.

We’ll have to wait a while to find out who both the California Roll and Medusa are, and to hear them sing again. But tune in next week for DC Superhero Night, when we discover that not all heroes wear capes, but some do Gargoyle, Jackalope, Dandelion, or Squirrel costumes. See you then.

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