Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t watched Season 9, episode 5 of “The Masked Singer,” which aired on March 15 on Fox, proceed with caution.
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In the latest episode of “The Masked Singer,” two more celebrities were unveiled: Actor/comedian Malin Akerman was disclosed as Squirrel, while social media star Lele Pons was revealed to be Jackalope.
Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg correctly identified Malin Akerman as Squirrel. Robin Thicke’s guess was Heather Graham, Ken Jeong speculated Katherine Heigl, and Nicole Scherzinger picked Kate Hudson. Guest panelist Jennifer Nettles suggested Anne Hathaway.
Regarding Jackalope, Nicole Scherzinger promptly identified her as Lele Pons, with Robin Thicke concurring. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg guessed Jenna Ortega, while Ken Jeong opted for Selena Gomez, and Jennifer Nettles chose Camila Cabello.
It was “Sesame Street” night, and the episode kicked off with Elmo leading a rendition of “What’s The Name of that Song” (or in this instance, “Show”), followed by performances of “Dynamite” by BTS featuring Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, the Count, and other characters. The delightful oddity of the show persists! (I mean, the on-screen text introducing host Nick Cannon humorously labeled him as “Father to Many Sesame Street Fans.” The show’s consistent emphasis on Cannon’s fatherhood remains quite remarkable.)
This episode also featured the much-anticipated appearance of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, as teased in earlier news reports. Hamlin made the recording just weeks after collapsing on the field during a January 2 game. In the episode, he was introduced by his younger brother, Damir.
Explaining his appearance, Hamlin said, “My brother, that’s my world. I put family first. And he loves ‘Sesame Street’ more than most things. So, we had to make it tonight.”
Serving as a guest panelist for the episode was singer Jennifer Nettles, host of Fox’s “Farmer Wants a Wife,” airing immediately after “The Masked Singer.”
Similar to last season, “The Masked Singer” has embraced a “Champion of Masked Singer” format. In each episode, three costumed celebrities perform, but only one emerges as the winner and advances to compete the following week. Following each round, the three finalists engage in the semi-finals.
This structure results in one contestant being unmasked midway through the episode. After Akerman, revealed as Squirrel, was the first to be unmasked, Jackalope and Fairy faced off in a “battle royale” with “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons. Jackalope received fewer votes and was unmasked as Pons. The Fairy progresses to the next week’s episode.
New this season is “Ding Dong Keep It On.” In the new twist to the competition, panelists will have the opportunity to save a singer from looming elimination, but the bell can only be rung three times during the first three rounds. Those three singers will then face off on a special episode in a battle to rejoin the competition. On Wednesday, the bell was not rung.
“The Masked Singer” enters Season 9 with 21 contestants include “Mustang,” “Axolotl,” “California Roll,” “Dandelion,” “Moose,” “Gargoyle,” “Jackalope,” “Doll,” Polar Bear,” “Night Owl,” “Rock Lobster,” “Gnome” and more to be announced. Tim Chappel is this season’s costume designer.
Lele Pons as Jackalope and Malin Akerman as Squirrel join Michael Bolton as the Wolf, Grandmaster Flash as Polar Bear, Debbie Gibson as Night Owl, Howie Mandel as Rock Lobster, Sara Evans as Mustang and Dick Van Dyke as Gnome as the celebrities unmasked this season.
The Season 9 contestants “boast a combined 28 Emmy nominations, six Grammy wins, 10 gold albums, four Golden Globe nominations, five medals, 26 books, two Tony Award nominations, five Lifetime Achievement Awards, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a combined 95,231,000 records sold.” Season nine will introduce all-new themed episodes, including “ABBA,” “New York,” “DC Superheroes,” “Sesame Street,” “80s Night,” “Movie Night” and more.
Here were the contestants and their performances on night five:
THE FAIRY (WINNER)
Song: “You’re No Good,” by Linda Ronstadt
Panel guesses: Tracee Ellis Ross, Angelina Jolie, Rashida Jones
Clue: Cookie Monster holds up a paper plate that says “Endless Love”
Package voiceover: “Making my debut on ‘Sesame Street’ night makes me feel right at home. Because I grew up on these streets. Some might say I’m a bit of a nepo-fairy, I mean, while other kids had allowances, I made my pocket money charging the neighborhood kids to come over and see my dad just hanging out at home. I definitely could have taken a more direct route to fame, like some of the friends that I grew up with. But I chose a more divergent path, prioritizing my education and traveling the world. Eventually my destiny led me back to the limelight of Tinseltown. I guess office work just wasn’t for me. I got to pursue two of my loves: Singing and acting. Now it’s time for me to sing a song from my favorite ‘Sesame Street’ resident. Because why he may be grumpy, he’s an old friend.”
JACKALOPE (LELE PONS)
Song: “Whenever, Wherever,” by Shakira
Clue: The Count holds up a sign that says, “30 Under 30.” “Donald Glover, Emma Stone and Michael B. Jordan. It is an honor to be on the same list.”
Panel guesses: Lele Pons, Jenna Ortega, Camilla Cabello
Package voiceover: “I’m so excited to step into the ring on ‘Sesame Street’ night because I also love entertaining audiences of all ages. While I’m known to have a lot of influence, you’d be surprised that I wasn’t very social. Talking as a kid wasn’t my jam. So, growing up, I pioneered other ways to express myself through music and dance. Pretty soon, people all over the world began connecting with me and what I do because this Jackalope don’t lie. Posting about your problems to millions of strangers may seem crazy, but being vulnerable gives me strength. I’ve created a modern family of outcasts and together we’ve defined an industry. My kind of notoriety has its fair share of trolls. But I’ve learned to have a thick skin in my arena. So, my competition better watch out because this bunny’s moves shine brightest on Wednesdays.”
SQUIRREL (MALIN AKERMAN)
Song: “Just the Two of Us,” by Grover Washington Jr., feat. Bill Withers
Panel guesses: Katherine Heigl, Kate Hudson, Malin Akerman, Anne Hathaway
Clue: Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin brings out a football with Jeong’s face on it. Said Squirrel: “Ken, this is not the first time we’ve worked together. But it is the first time you’ve had more lines.”
Package voiceover: “My coming out as the squirrel last week was nuts. I had some tough competition, but I knew if I got into the battle royale I could tap into my inner rock star and really show what I’m made of. Now that I’m sitting in the champion seat, I’m feeling a new fire. I’m working hard to make sure no one’s going to take this title from me, especially not on ‘Sesame Street’ night. I’m dedicating my performance to the Count because my kid is his number one fan. That guy’s got some style. Just like this new clue. [A wedding gown]. Say yes to the guess.”
Previous song: “Try,” by Pink
Previous panel guesses: Naomi Watts, Katie Holmes, Renee Zellweger, Margot Robbie, Uma Thurman