Jordin Sparks on her surprising American Idol reunion with Paula Abdul on The Masked Dancer
The celeb under the Exotic Bird mask tells EW how she let everyone believe she was Seahorse on The Masked Singer when she was dancing instead.
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday's episode of The Masked Dancer.
The Exotic Bird is ready to squawk after her exit from the Top 5 contestants left on The Masked Dancer. Behind the colorful feathered friend was none other than Grammy-nominated singer Jordin Sparks. Here, the American Idol winner dishes to EW about her full-circle experience on the dancing show, reuniting with former Idol judge Paula Abdul, and her new single, "You Still Think of Me."
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You started your career on a talent searching competition show, American Idol. Now, you're competing on a show that's just for celebrities. Did this feel like a full-circle moment for you?
JORDIN SPARKS: Yes, it was. I could not believe it. So first off, I was terrified when they sent the email over asking if I wanted to be a part of The Masked Dancer. I was taken aback just because I thought that it would be The Masked Singer, and I didn't even know Masked Dancer was in the works. So when it came through, I was like, wait a minute. But then I realized that I was the only person telling myself that I couldn't do it. So I thought, even though I'm a little bit scared about this, I'm going to do it because I wanted to prove to myself that I could take on challenges, even if they scared me a little bit. It was a lot of fun to do. I had the best time.
And at what point did you know former American Idol judge Paula Abdul was going to be joining you on The Masked Dancer as a panelist?
It was about a week into rehearsals when I found out that Paula was going to be a judge. And I could not believe it. I just thought to myself, how is it that I started off on a stage with Paula sitting at the judging panel, and now I'm here again some 13 or 14 years later on the stage with Paula sitting at the judges' panel again? I thought it was great; I loved it. I love Paula, she was always so kind to me when I was on Idol all those years ago, and every time I've seen her or done anything that she's been involved with, she has just always been so kind.
And what was your reaction when the producers told you you'd be dancing to the Paula Abdul song "Opposites Attract?"
First of all, I was like, okay, that's a great song. You can't help but groove when that song comes on. I was nervous for all of the performances, but that one I was the most nervous for because it was Paula's song and I really wanted to do it justice for her, because she had to watch me dance to her song. So I wanted to make sure I did it well, but I love that they came up with that idea. The show was all about having fun. So when they said that, it was a no brainer.
Did you get to talk with Paula after the reveal?
After I was revealed, it was really cool. We did have a moment. She came down and I was able to talk to her and see her and I was just like, "I can't believe you knew it was me, but at the same time, I felt like you were gonna know. I'm glad that you guessed me." So it was really fun to be able to do that and to see her again.
Has your phone been blowing up with people wondering if you were behind the Exotic Bird mask?
Okay, so what's funny is two of my closest friends — when The Masked Singer's most recent season was on — bombarded me every week because they thought for sure that I was the Seahorse. Which is funny because it was my other friend, Tori Kelly. We all know each other. And I didn't confirm or deny because I love the idea of the show and the guessing game. So I didn't want to ruin it for them. I just let them guess, but I have literally only gotten one text from somebody that was like, "We're watching The Masked Dancer, and I definitely think it's you." And you know who it was? My best friend that I've known since I was three. I didn't even tell her that I was gonna be on it, but she knew. So I know some people are going to be surprised. I told my dad, and maybe one other person. So nobody knows that I'm on it. I'm excited for my family to see what they say.
What did you expect going into a show like this and how did reality line up with those expectations?
I actually didn't know what to expect to be honest. The one thing I did know is that it is a Fox show, and I've been a part of the Fox family for a long time. They always do things very well, so I expected that it was going to be done well and to the best of their ability, but I honestly just went in with an open mind. That's what I had to keep telling myself because dancing isn't my bread and butter, but I love to do it. I have one of those personalities where I guess I'm kind of a perfectionist in a way but I'll procrastinate because I think I can't do it right, if that makes sense. Like if I can't do it to the best of my ability, I'm not gonna do it. But also I have to give myself permission to do fun things that I love, even if I don't think I'm going to do them well. It's about being able to push myself and to tackle new things without the fear. I think that was something that was fun about being behind the mask, was that there was a freedom in people not seeing my face. It was really fun to be able to have that, but at the same time, I thought to myself, why can't I have that much fun when I don't have a mask on? So for me, I have to dive into that. I'm excited that a show that is essentially just a guessing game has actually brought up a lot of different things about myself that I need to learn and that I need to work on. It was really a beautiful time. I'm really sad that it's over, actually.
You just dropped a new single. Tell me a bit about that and what's next for you.
So the new song is called "You Still Think of Me," and it's a really beautiful song. Last year, I had the most creative outputs that I've had in the past couple years. So I've been really excited to just be in the space that I'm in. I haven't felt this way about making music since before Idol, like where it's just fun, and it's exciting. And I love the sound that I have, that I'm doing. This is just the first of many songs that I'm going to be dropping this year. But "You Still Think of Me" is really special, because most of my songs have a lot of layers, a lot of background vocals, big ad-libs and a lot of build. This song is very ethereal to me, you just kind of feel like you're floating in with the song. I also think there's such beauty in the space between the lyrics and the breath, between the lyrics and space in the music, that it really takes you on a journey. I really love it. I'm very excited for people to hear that. I hope people really enjoy this, and there's going to be a lot of music coming this year, so I can't wait for everybody to hear it.
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The Masked Dancer (TV Show)