Niecy Nash guest hosted the premiere, which unveiled a beloved celebrity no one expected.

The costumed circus is back! It's quite a feat that The Masked Singer premiered in January 2019 and it's already on its fifth season. It seems producers are aware that the show has sped through so much in a short amount of time, as they've injected a bunch of changes to the latest edition.

Before the season premiere debuted tonight, producer Craig Plestis filled EW in on all the add-ons. We can look forward to wildcard contestants, a Cluedle-Doo character who doles out hints and mischief, and more.

However, one adjustment producers couldn't plan for was the addition of Niecy Nash as guest host. The actress, who's been a guest panelist on the show before, is stepping in for the first half of the season while Nick Cannon rests and isolates after his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Cannon has been with the show from the beginning, but Nash was a delight tonight and won points in my book for telling panelist Ken Jeong to sit his butt down right away (I regret to inform readers that he called her "mommy" as if they aren't the same age). Jeong's fellow OGs Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, and Nicole Scherzinger also returned.

Still, Cannon managed to make his mark with voiceovers and a Jar of Shame gift to McCarthy, with instructions for the judges to put $50 away every time they guess old standbys Jamie Foxx, Bjork, Johnny Knoxville, or Lindsay Lohan.

Unsurprisingly, by the end of the night, the jar was already $50 richer. Tsk tsk.

This season, there are only 10 non-wildcard contestants. And tonight we met the singers from Group A: Russian Doll, Snail, Seashell, Raccoon, and Porcupine.

Kicking off the performances was Russian Doll, whose enormous costume eclipsed Nash and had a mouth mechanism that opened and closed. The contestant began singing Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" before another doll joined the performance, making it clear that Russian Dolls are at least two people.

As Scherzinger summed it up, the performance was "so creepy but so magical." The panelists, thrown off by the multiple voices under Russian Dolls, named groups like Boyz II Men and various Glee cast members for potential celebrities underneath.

Next up was Snail, who left behind a trail of digital goo as he moved across the stage. He performed Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams (Come True)." The panelists had a hard time guessing exactly who Snail could be, as McCarthy said he might be changing his voice to sound like Kermit the Frog.

Seashell then took the stage to show off her great voice with Roxette's "Listen to Your Heart." The Masked Singer's sister show The Masked Dancer had its moments, but it's performances like Seashell's that prove TMS is not just a gimmick but must-watch television.

The panelists threw around a bunch of names, including Texans like Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Love Hewitt because of Seashell's cowboy hat clue.

Then coming straight from the dumpster was Raccoon. No, really — the stage set for the singer's performance featured a garbage can. He channeled Steven Tyler with energetic, scream-like singing for the Troggs' "Wild Thing." It was a surprise, then, that none of the panelists guessed the Aerosmith frontman. Instead, names like Sammy Hagar, Mike Tyson, Gary Busey, and Nick Nolte were tossed around. (EW has another idea about Raccoon's celebrity identity.)

And last but not least was Porcupine, who quickly set the record straight and said he preferred to be called Robopine. Going along with the name, his clue package featured a lot of sci-fi elements (and a George Washington figurine, of all things). Robopine sang Luther Vandross' "Never Too Much," and his buttery smooth voice had the panelists guessing Idris Elba, Lionel Richie, Ginuwine, and of course ..... Jamie Foxx, courtesy of Scherzinger. Season 5 might be touted as a game changer but some things never change!

It came time for the viewers at home and the panelists to vote for their favorites. Nash then revealed Snail was going home.

The slimy contestant was revealed and it was a shocker — Snail was Kermit the Frog, the show's first non-human contestant!

Kermit the Frog
| Credit: Everett Collection

Ironically, none of the panelists' official guesses were right but McCarthy hit the nail on the head when she said in passing that Snail sounded like the beloved Muppet. That off-the-cuff comment was certainly better than her final guess of Ted Cruz, which inflicted on viewers the cursed graphic of the senator's head on Snail's body. I don't think anyone in America, regardless of political party, would like to see this guess become a reality.

McCarthy's first guess, Adam Carolla, would've been better. Nobody on the panelists' table expected it to be Kermit, because, why would they? The rest of the judges stuck with their first impression guess: Thicke had Seth MacFarlane, Jeong said Jay Leno, and Scherzinger predicted Billy Crystal.

The panelists all looked appropriately shocked after the unveiling, with Jeong declaring it was "the most famous guest on The Masked Singer ever."

"You know it's as they say," Kermit said after his reveal. "It's not easy being green, but sometimes it's even harder being a snail."

Next week we'll hear from Group B's the Piglet, Chameleon, Phoenix, Black Swan, and Grandpa Monster. And before you know it, the first-ever wildcard character will crash the party ...

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Episode Recaps

The Masked Singer

Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?

  • TV Show
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  • Wednesdays at 08:00 PM

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