Polar Bear reveals how The Masked Singer was way different than his epic Grammys hip-hop performance
- TV Show
Warning: This article contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of The Masked Singer.
It was all things New York, New York on The Masked Singer on Wednesday evening.
Robin Thicke kicked off the Big Apple-themed festivities with a performance of "Living in New York City" from his album Paula, for which he was joined onstage by fellow panelists Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, Nicole Scherzinger, and Ken Jeong.
Afterward, host Nick Cannon reminded them that they have yet to use this season's new addition, the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell, which he still seems uncomfortable saying. McCarthy-Wahlberg says they've been saving it, and a lively audience member chimes in with, "Tonight's the night!" And, turns out, that person was right.
The contestants this week — Polar Bear, California Roll, and reigning champ Medusa — performed "Rapture" by Blondie, "Paparazzi" by Lady Gaga, and "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, respectively. California Roll also made some Masked Singer history by being the first costume to contain five singers.
When it came time for the first vote, Polar Bear was sent back to the North Pole. His identity gave most of the judges some paws, though. Jeong thought he was P Diddy, McCarthy-Wahlberg guessed Flava Flav, and Thicke opted for LL Cool J. But it was Scherzinger who called it from the beginning. When that too-cool-for-school bear unmasked, it was revealed to be hip-hop founding father Grandmaster Flash, who, as part of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, becoming the first hip-hop act to do so.
This meant Medusa was sent to her third Battle Royale, and was pitted up against California Roll in a battle of the "Uptown Girl" renditions. In a shocking twist, Medusa was picked to go home over the sushi singers. The judges went through the motions of giving their final guesses — Susan Boyle (oh, Ken), Halsey (McCarthy-Wahlberg), Kesha (Thicke), Lorde (Scherzinger) — but this was their last chance to use the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell this round, and as the prophetic audience member earlier manifested, they took it. In the nick of time, Scherzinger rung the bell and Medusa was allowed to keep it on.
This means California Roll and Medusa are headed to the quarter finals, and next week will see an entirely new group of costumed singers take the stage.
Before that happens though, EW caught up with Grandmaster Flash, who discussed why the series reminded him of the joys of being childlike, how the experience compared to his epic Grammys 50th hip-hop anniversary performance, what he really felt about some of those guesses, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What convinced you to do the show?
GRANDMASTER FLASH: You know, as an adult, and where the world is today, just what is going on in Ukraine and Russia — terrible. Innocent children dying for no reason. The weather weird. The economy's on whack. I'm traveling to other countries. I'm doing lecturing. I'm doing lots of things, so I don't get a chance to watch a whole lot of TV. And I can remember my friends and family saying we watch this show called The Masked Singer. I didn't think too much on it, until someone told me I need to really look at this. So I went on the internet to watch some of the past shows. And then ironically, a couple of weeks later, an email comes in to the office. And it says that we would like Grandmaster Flash to be one of the people on the show. My "adult" kicks in, and I'm like, "Hell no, no way." We talked to them a few times, you know, my company, their company, and finally, I'm like, "Okay, let's start the process." And they said, "Here's a few choices of what we'd like you to do." And I look at a few of them. And I'm saying, "I'm not sure." And they say, "This polar bear guy would really be perfect for you." So now my adult kicked in again, and I'm like, "Uh that's not cool enough." Alright, so they said, "Let's get back to you." A day later they come back. Polar Bear now has a gold chain around his neck. I'm like, okay, but no… "We'll get back to you the next day." Polar Bear then has his hat backwards. And then it came all the way to the glasses and the whole look, and my "adult" is like, "I can't believe I'm doing this." But, my "kid" thing kicks in. And I gotta tell you, how I relieve my stress, is playing with children. Sometimes you have to get down on the floor, color, paint, or help them trace 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, or asking them to sing their ABCs over and over again. You know, they help me to forget about where the world is. So my biggest thing was, if I had to accept this mission, I would have to turn off my icon, my Grandmaster Flash, my being an adult. I have to shut that switch totally off and it's a big thing to do when you've been an adult for as long as I've been an adult. So for me, it was quite a learning experience to be able to shut off your adult and be childlike and do it for the kids.
Was the process similar to being part of the Grammys' 50th anniversary celebration of hip-hop? Because I imagine that had to be kept top secret, too.
[For the Grammys] they pretty much just said, "Don't post." We wanted the world to see it once it is all glued together. And it had multiple rehearsals. It was nothing like this Masked Singer thing — I couldn't take a step without putting that whole outfit on or taking it off. I couldn't talk to people. I was going to singing rehearsal, and I'm not a singer! And being asked to sing the song over and over and over again. And going into multiple rehearsals with that suit on, and just the whole process was super duper, FBI, super, super, secret agent everything. [They said], "We would strongly, strongly advise you not to tell anybody when you go home. You cannot. You take this extremely seriously. You cannot tell anybody." So I didn't tell anybody. Not even my significant other. I just said it was pretty interesting. I could not tell anybody because if I told my significant other, y'all women, you gossip sometimes, and it would leak out, and I would have heard hell from Masked Singer. So I didn't tell anybody. Nope.
You're considered a founding father of hip-hop. What artists are you most excited about today? Any that you feel are game-changers?
I think for me, because I was there from the beginning, the game changer is this: That this thing lives on long after I'm gone. You have to understand, before COVID, I traveled for the past 18 years, I was traveling to 150 countries. I've seen artists do this thing in different languages, in different ages, different creeds, and different colors. So when I'm asked this question, I can't even answer it, because I've heard things in French and Polish and German. Like I couldn't tell you. I've seen so much. And it's just, I sit down and I think, and I say, "Dang, I'm one of the people that started all this." You know, it's… I don't know. I can't even find the words. So when people try to say, "Well, what song and what artists and what era and this and that?" I get stuck. I can't answer that because I've seen it all. I've seen it all. I've seen songs that will probably never be heard in America, and artists and DJs and beatboxers. I just… I'm blessed.
You seemed to react pretty strongly to some of those guesses on The Masked Singer. What was really going through your mind?
I was like, really? Jazzy Jeff, P Diddy. But when it came to that Nicole, whoo. She was like, "Hmmm. First hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." She was kind of just out loud telling us her thoughts. And she says, "Under that costume, I think it's Grandmaster Flash." And I can remember the producers saying do not make a motion, do not make a move, because the idea is to discourage them. And make them think second of their correct guess. [Laughs] So when she figured it out I just stayed still. And then I thought maybe the head would come off then. They're like, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We do this thing called Take it Off." I'm like, "What is that?!" "This is when the crowd tells us when to take it off." I'm like, "Oh, okay. So I guess I'll wait to take it off." It was such an adventure. It was a learning experience. It just kind of taught me that it's okay to be an adult, but dang, if you could just be childlike, that could be cool. And healing. That's what it was to me. It reminds me, you know, on the days that I'll be stressed as an adult and as a parent, I can also be silly, too. I've got the pictures to look at and just laugh at myself. It was pretty cool.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.