SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t watched Season 9, episode 13 of “The Masked Singer,” which aired on May 10 on Fox, proceed with caution.
Pentatonix is a well-known a cappella group, easily recognizable as one of the best in the genre today. Right from the beginning, it was rather evident that they were the performers behind the California Roll mask on “The Masked Singer.” Indeed, during Thursday’s show, which also served as the Season 9 semifinals, the five-member group was revealed.
For their initial song, “Paparazzi,” Scott Hoying, one of the group’s members, mentioned that they attempted to avoid using harmonies initially. He said, “We tried to hide the iconic Pentatonix harmony sound for at least a minute. For the first minute, I was trying to alter my voice significantly. However, it didn’t quite work because every comment on every video was like, ‘I knew from the beginning it was Pentatonix, and I was confirmed as soon as they all came in. We know that sound so well.’ But honestly, it was a compliment. It was genuinely flattering to realize that we couldn’t even conceal our distinctive sound because it has become such a familiar part of people’s musical experience over the years.”
Hoying, Kristin Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan, Kevin Olusola, and Matt Sallee make up the group and participated in the show. Olusola noted that the choice of California Roll was a perfect fit for them.
“We absolutely love sushi and indulge in it often while on tour,” he said. “We saw the California Roll as a representation of one long piece of sushi that everyone loves, but when you cut it into five pieces, you can savor each part individually. That theme resonates with our band.”
Sallee mentioned that wearing the costume was challenging, requiring two people to assist with mobility. However, it surprisingly didn’t pose a challenge to their singing.
“You might think it would because we couldn’t see each other, but we are accustomed to performing together, closing our eyes, and simply listening to one another,” he explained. “This allowed us to harmonize, stay in tune, and blend together seamlessly.”
Identifying California Roll as Pentatonix was not a difficult task, as it became quite apparent from the start. Panelist Robin Thicke correctly guessed Pentatonix, and Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg agreed. Ken Jeong’s guess was the cast of “In the Heights,” while Nicole Scherzinger thought it was the cast of “Pitch Perfect.”
As California Roll, Pentatonix performed “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson as their first song of the night. Prior to the final vote, the three semifinalists engaged in a battle royale, starting with California Roll, followed by Macaw and Medusa, all performing their rendition of “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars.
Similar to the previous season, “The Masked Singer” once again adopted the “Champion of Masked Singer” format for its regular season. In each episode, three celebrities in elaborate costumes took the stage, but only one of them would emerge as the winner and secure a spot to return for the next week’s competition.
A new addition this season was the introduction of “Ding Dong Keep It On.” This innovative twist in the competition allowed the panelists to potentially rescue a contestant on the brink of elimination. However, there was a catch – the bell could only be rung three times during the initial three rounds. The three singers who received this lifeline then engaged in a special episode, battling it out for a chance to re-enter the main competition. Ultimately, it was Medusa who emerged victorious in this showdown.
Pentatonix as California Roll joins Olivia Culpo as UFO, Lou Diamond Phillips as Mantis, Keenan Allen as Gargoyle, Melissa Joan Hart as Lamp, Alicia Witt as Dandelion, Dee Snider as the Doll, Christine Quinn as Scorpio, George Wendt as Moose, Holly Robinson Peete as Fairy, Alexa Bliss as Axolotl, Lele Pons as Jackalope, Malin Akerman as Squirrel, 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.
Season 9 of “The Masked Singer” commenced with a roster of 21 contestants, featuring intriguing characters such as “Mustang,” “Axolotl,” “California Roll,” “Dandelion,” “Moose,” “Gargoyle,” “Jackalope,” “Doll,” “Polar Bear,” “Night Owl,” “Rock Lobster,” “Gnome,” “Macaw,” “Squirrel,” “Wolf,” and more. Notably, Tim Chappel served as the costume designer for this season.
These Season 9 contestants collectively boasted an impressive resume, with a combined 28 Emmy nominations, six Grammy wins, 10 gold albums, four Golden Globe nominations, five medals, 26 authored books, two Tony Award nominations, five Lifetime Achievement Awards, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a staggering total of 95,231,000 records sold.
Season nine introduced a series of exciting themed episodes, including “ABBA Night,” “New York Night,” “DC Superheroes Night,” “Sesame Street Night,” “80s Night,” “Movie Night,” and more.
In the spotlight of night thirteen, we have the following contestant and their performance:
CALIFORNIA ROLL (PENTATONIX)
Song: “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
Panel guesses: The panelists took their guesses, speculating that California Roll might be connected to Pentatonix, the “Dear Evan Hansen” cast, the “Hamilton” cast, the “Spring Awakening” cast, or the “In the Heights” cast.
Panelist connection:A notable connection was made with Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, as California Roll hinted, “Dear Jenny, I know you’ve enjoyed us on the stage. But I think it’s our time on Broadway that you may remember us from.”
Package voiceover: “In our package voiceover, I want to express the excitement we all share about being in the semi-finals. Friendly competition has always been something we enjoy, and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to showcase our creative side. This moment feels like a full circle for us. During rehearsals and filming, there were moments when it felt like we were back to our very first performance together. I even found myself experiencing the same nerves as I did back then. I vividly remember being backstage for ‘Uptown Girl,’ singing it repeatedly, and thinking, “Am I 19 again?” It’s a reminder of how much we’ve grown, both as a group and as individual musicians.
What’s particularly exciting about our journey is that we’ve taken complete control of the creative process. We’ve molded our performances into something uniquely “us” while presenting it to the world as something innovative and imaginative. We hope that our approach will leave a lasting impression on both the judges and the audience, ultimately propelling us into the final round.
Previous songs: “Creep,” by Radiohead; “Paparazzi,” by Lady Gaga
Previous panel guesses: Cast of “The Lion King”, Pentatonix, “Pitch Perfect” cast, “High School Musical” cast, “Hamilton” cast, Miami Sound Machine.
Song: “Take Me to Church,” by Hozier
Panel guesses: Elle Goulding, Grimes, Natalie Merchant, Paula Cole, Lorde, Hailee Steinfeld, Dove Cameron, Dido
Panelist connection: Robin Thicke remarked, “Our voices have led us on a remarkable journey, one that has adorned our walls with platinum.”
Package voiceover: Earning a spot in the semi-finals holds immense significance for me. What’s truly remarkable is that this show is something the person closest to my heart would have absolutely adored. She was a vibrant, colorful soul and my most ardent supporter. Sadly, in 2020, I lost her, and it was a sudden and heartbreaking loss. Losing someone so dear makes it difficult to envision what lies ahead in your future.
So, when I discovered that I was pregnant with my son, it felt like an incredible blessing, almost like a gift from her. Both she and my son have become an integral part of my soul and my essence. It fills my heart with joy when the judges connect emotionally with the themes of my songs, and I always attribute that connection to them.
Tonight, as always, I’ll be channeling their memory while performing a song that even during soundcheck had me tearing up. I hope that the emotional energy I pour into this performance resonates with the audience and propels me closer to the finale.
Previous songs: “Someone Like You,” by Adele; “Happier Than Ever,” by Billie Eilish; “Dancing Queen,” by ABBA; “New York, New York,” by Frank Sinatra; “Mercy,” by Shawn Mendes
Previous panel guesses: Elle Goulding, Megan Markle, Jessie J, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa, Lorde, Tove Lo, Apple Martin, Dakota Johnson, Florence Welch, Shirley Manson, Susan Boyle, Kesha, Imogen Heap, Regina Spektor, Bishop Briggs, Amy Lee, Halsey, Ashlee Simpson. And when she was about to be voted off: Ken Jeong picked Susan Boyle, Robin Thicke went with Kesha, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg said it was Halsey, Nicole Scherzinger guessed Lorde.
Song: “What Makes You Beautiful,” by One Direction
Panel guesses: Darren Criss, David Archuleta, Daniel Bedingfield, Daniel Radcliffe
Panelist connection:Nicole Scherzinger mentioned, “We share not only a passion for traveling but also a deep love for the Philippines.”
Package voiceover: “At the beginning of my career, I was much more reserved. I was young and uncertain about my identity and the person I was supposed to become. In the process of self-discovery, I grappled with fear about embracing my true self. I was worried that if I revealed my authentic self, I might lose the people around me. However, when I finally summoned the courage to do so, it brought about a profound and beautiful transformation in my life. It felt liberating, as if I no longer needed to conceal any aspect of myself.
Love songs used to be something I avoided because I couldn’t relate to their lyrics. But now, having experienced love firsthand, I understand the sentiments they express. I’m genuinely excited about tonight’s performance because, while I recognize that many people are still going through what I experienced, returning to television and boldly pointing at the camera to declare, “you’re enough,” holds immense significance. It’s a profoundly beautiful message, and I wonder why I kept it hidden within myself for all this time.
Previous songs: “Your Song,” by Elton John; “Live Like You’re Dying,” by Tim McGraw
Previous panel guesses: Elijah Wood, Zayn Malik, Doug Robb, Macaulay Culkin, Gavin McGraw, Ryan Cabrera, Darren Criss, David Archuleta