SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read on if you haven’t seen “The Masked Singer” Season 9 Episode 13, which aired May 11 on Fox.
Pentatonix is fairly easy to recognize as perhaps the best known a cappella group performing today. So from the start, it was pretty easy to tell it was them on “The Masked Singer” and indeed, the five-person group unmasked as California Roll on Thursday’s show, which also doubled as season 9 semifinals. .
For their first song, “Paparazzi,” band member Scott Hoying said they tried to avoid doing harmonies at first, “so we could hide the iconic Pentatonix harmonic sound for at least a minute. For the first minute, I was trying to really change my voice. But it didn’t work, because every comment on every video was like, ‘I knew all along it was Pentatonix and they confirmed me as soon as everyone came in. We know that sound very well.’ But honestly, it was a compliment. It was very flattering to know that we can’t even hide our voice because it has become part of what people have heard for so many years.”
Hoying, Kristin Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan, Kevin Olusola and Matt Sallee make up the group and participated. Olusola said the California Roll choice was even a perfect fit for them.
“We love sushi, we absolutely love it, and we eat it very often on tour,” he said. “And we feel like that long piece of sushi that everyone loves, but by cutting it into five pieces you want the whole sushi and you can enjoy the individual pieces as well. That is very much an issue within our band.”
Sallee said the costume was a challenge and that she needed two people each to help them walk. “But honestly, he didn’t make singing a challenge,” she said. “You would think so, because we wouldn’t be able to see each other. But because we’re so used to seeing each other and closing our eyes and just hearing each other, we were able to really come together and sing in tune and merge.”
For California Roll, it was hard not to get it right, since it seemed pretty obvious from the start that it was Pentatonix. Panelist Robin Thicke did well with Pentatonix. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg agreed. Ken Jeong cast the cast for “In the Heights.” Nicole Scherzinger thought she was the cast of “Pitch Perfect.” “When you know, you know. And tonight, we know that,” McCarthy Wahlberg said.
Pentatonix as California Roll sang Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” for their first number of the night. Before the final vote, the three semifinalists faced off in a battle royale, starting with California Roll, then Macaw and Medusa, all performing their cover of Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby.”
Like last season, “The Masked Singer” has once again adopted a “Champion of Masked Singer” format during the regular season. In each episode, three costumed celebrities performed, but only one won and went on to compete again the following week.
New this season was “Ding Dong Keep It On”. In the new twist of the competition, the panelists had a chance to save a singer from impending elimination, but the bell can only ring three times during the first three rounds. Those three singers then faced off on a special episode in a battle to rejoin the competition, which ended up being Medusa.
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 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 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 Masked Singer” entered season 9 with 21 contestants including “Mustang”, “Axolotl”, “California Roll”, “Dandelion”, “Moose”, “Gargoyle”, “Jackalope”, “Doll”, Polar Bear , “Night Owl”, “Rock Lobster”, “Gnome”, “Macaw”, “Squirrel”, “Wolf” and more. Tim Chappel is the costume designer for this season.
The Season 9 contestants “have a combined total of 28 Emmy nominations, six Grammy Awards, 10 Gold Albums, four Golden Globe nominations, five medals, 26 books, two Tony Award nominations, five Lifetime Awards. Achievement Awards, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a combined total of 95,231,000 albums sold.” The ninth season will feature all-new themed episodes, including “ABBA Night,” “New York Night,” “DC Superheroes Night,” “Sesame Street Night,” “80s Night,” “Movie Night,” and more.
Here were the rest of the contestants and their performances on night thirteen:
California Roll (PENTATONIX)
Song: “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson
Panel guesses: Pentatonix, “Dear Evan Hansen” cast, “Hamilton” cast, “Spring Awakening” cast, “In the Heights” cast
panelist connection: Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg. “Dear Jenny, I know you have enjoyed us on stage. But I think it’s our time on Broadway that you might remember us from.”
voiceover pack: “I think I speak for all of us that it is very exciting to be here in the semifinals. Because we love a little friendly competition, and it’s really nice to show that creative muscle right now. It’s definitely a full circle moment. As we rehearsed and filmed, I felt like we had memories of the first time we performed together. I’m even having some of the same anxiety as before. I remember being so nervous that I was literally backstage singing ‘Uptown Girl’ over and over again. I was like, am I 19 again? But it’s making us realize how far we’ve come as a group. And as individual musicians. And I think we’re really pushing ourselves creatively. One of the things I love about what we’re doing is that we’ve really taken charge of the creative process. We make it very much our own, but we present it to the world as something innovative and creative. Hopefully that will impress the judges and the public and lead us to the final round.”
previous songs: “Creep”, by Radiohead; “Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga
Pre-Panel Guesswork: “The Lion King” Cast, 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. “Our two voices have taken us on a journey. One that put platinum on our walls.”
voiceover pack: “Reaching the semifinals means a lot to me. The coolest part of all is that this is a show that the person closest to me would have been 100% a fan of. She was a very colorful and vibrant person and she was my biggest cheerleader. In 2020, I lost her. She was very young and it was very sudden. When you lose your heart, it’s hard to see what your future could be like. So it felt like the biggest blessing of my life when I found out I was pregnant with my son. It felt like a gift from her. She and my son are a big part of my soul and spirit. So it really makes my heart soar when the judges are emotionally attached to what I’m singing. And I always attribute it to them. I’m channeling them tonight as always with a song that made me cry even at soundcheck. I hope the energy comes and pushes me towards the end”.
Previous songs: “Someone like you”, by Adele; “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish; ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”; “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra; “Mercy” by Shawn Mendes
Pre-Panel Guesswork: 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 eliminated: Ken Jeong chose Susan Boyle, Robin Thicke chose Kesha, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg said she 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. “Not only do we both love to travel, but we both have a special love for the Philippines.”
voiceover pack:: “When I started my career, I was much more reserved. He was young and he wasn’t quite sure who he was or who he was supposed to be. But as I got to know myself, I was also afraid of who I was. I thought that if I told the truth, I was afraid of losing everyone. But when I did, it changed my life in such a beautiful way. I felt like I no longer had to hide anything. I always avoided love songs because I didn’t like what they were talking about because I couldn’t relate to it. But now I know what he’s talking about because I’ve experienced it. I’m really looking forward to tonight’s performance because even though I know people are still going through what I went through, going back on TV and pointing directly at the camera and saying ‘you’re enough’ means everything. It’s so beautiful and why did I hide it from myself for all this time?
previous songs: “Your song”, by Elton John; Live as if you were dying by Tim McGraw
Pre-Panel Guesswork: Elijah Wood, Zayn Malik, Doug Robb, Macaulay Culkin, Gavin McGraw, Ryan Cabrera, Darren Criss, David Archuleta