Broccoli on why he couldn't pull off 'Watermelon Sugar' on The Masked Singer
Broccoli's time of brockin' out on The Masked Singer stage has come to an end.
The cruciferous character was revealed to be legendary singer-songwriter Paul Anka on this week's special Thanksgiving episode, and as such he'll be missing out on the Super Six. Ahead, the 79-year-old discusses his experience on the show and being a surprise TikTok hit. Plus, he spills all the details on his upcoming new album featuring duets with Olivia Newton-John and Andrea Bocelli.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First of all, were you familiar with the show before signing on?
PAUL ANKA: Yes, I was very familiar with the show. I was a big fan of the show, as is my family — my son and the kids he hangs out with. And when I got the call, I was very interested, keeping in mind that I've been confined here in my house in my studio. I'm working on a new album, and was confined for some time. So I accepted, and wanted to kind of get out of the house. I was in, I was down for it, and I had a lot of fun, frankly.
Did your son figure out it was you or did you tell him in advance?
Oh no I told him, because I live with my son. I spend a lot of time with him. So to break away — we have a very good, honest relationship. I'd rather tell him the truth and say, "Be quiet." He didn't even tell his friends; it was pretty cool. He was kind of excited about it, and then when he started seeing it [on TV], he was even more excited about it.
In one of the clue packages, there were two dogs. Was that a reference to you being on Gilmore Girls and the dog being named after you, or was it your song "Puppy Love," or both?
I think certainly Gilmore Girls and "Puppy Love" because right now, "Puppy Love" and TikTok are huge. [My song] "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" is very big on TikTok, too, which we're all sort of scratching our head about. It's amazing. So I mean, I thought the clues were, for the most part, at least challenging for some people.
They really ran with the TikTok thing. People were initially thinking you were a teenager!
Obviously the song selection is important, and my whole point was to do things that I don't normally do and put a lot of energy into it, so that people would say, "No, that person doesn't have that kind of energy." So I had all the uptempo songs, and really put as much movement as I could in my costume to partially throw them off. My concern was Robin [Thicke], because I knew his dad, may he rest. I know Robin, I haven't seen him recently, but my tonality he would pick up on. So with that, and going the energy route and moving and the selection, I wanted to throw them off as best I could.
Speaking of song selection, as someone who's been performing for so long, how did you narrow down what you'd sing?
Well, I wanted songs I was familiar with because as much as I could envision what it was going to be like in the costume, the reality only hit me when I was in it. I wasn't really ready to do some unknown sound here. I looked at [Harry Styles'] "Watermelon Sugar," a couple of very contemporary songs and I said to myself, well, I'm in the studio now, I'm trying to work on a lot of new songs here. So my brain was kind of maxed, so I really chose songs that I felt like I could pull off or that would work for me.
What can you tell us about the album you're working on?
I've got to deliver it in about five weeks, and then it's coming out next year. And I think one of the good sides — if there is one — with COVID is that you're not going anywhere and I just started writing. I've written a lot of songs and I started the process months and months and months ago, and I don't know, it's just been rolling out of me. And we've got a lot of diverse material. One of the highlights from this is I have the original master [of Frank Sinatra singing "My Way"]. I've known Andrea Bocelli and I thought, wow, wouldn't it be great if I can get Bocelli on here with Sinatra and myself and do the three of us in "My Way," which I originally wrote for Sinatra. It became very exciting, but it was technically very challenging and we pulled it off, and same with Olivia Newton-John. I mean, she's on her farm up north, and I wanted to do "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" with someone. It's very big on TikTok now with Doja Cat, who got a hit record with it. I wanted to make a normal version, if you will. [Laughs.] I have known Olivia, and I just felt it would be the perfect song for her, with her talent, and she's pretty much staying home, obviously, now with what she's dealing with. So we put her in a studio up in the Santa Barbara area and we just banged it out. And she did a great job. She did an amazing job.
What surprised you most about being on The Masked Singer?
Well, first of all, I loved working with the staff and everyone. And I think that the added unfortunate pressure that we all felt… I have family in the business and they've been shut down, they can't get away. [Son-in-law] Jason Bateman, you know, he couldn't get to Atlanta — they're doing Ozark — but he was confined. We talk all the time, my daughter and him, and they're all very concerned. But when I found I could get back to work [for TMS], and realize that when I did get back to work, how efficient it was in producing the show, I was really taken with how easy it was under an abnormal situation and how smoothly it ran.
That's what everyone has been telling me.
But you know, I watch the show. I think some of them want out of there after the first time. I think Mickey Rourke wanted out. [Laughs.] You know, that wasn't my take. I mean, I was going to have fun, and being a fan of the show, I went with it. Did I want to last three weeks? No, I wanted to get back to my album, but I think the ride that I had was great. You know, I had the experience. But other than that, I didn't have any expectations. I did the best I could working hard at it, and that was it. It was pretty cool.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?