Rapper surprises as 'Masked Singer' champion

And so, America, it has come to this.

It’s Feb. 27, 2019, and all of the nation is glued to the television, watching one of the craziest pass-the-popcorn spectacles in broadcast history.

No, I am not referring to Michael Cohen’s surreal live testimony Wednesday morning before Congress. I’m talking about Wednesday evening’s surreal The Masked Singer finale, on which three mystery celebrities cosplaying as a giant bee (no, not this one), a one-eyed fluffy monster and a peacock in a sequined Liberace tuxedo competed one last time, culminating in a triple reveal -- and in my instant TV withdrawals.

I am already waiting for Fox to rush Season 2 into production. But let’s finish this bonkers inaugural and hopefully soon to be Emmy-sweeping season.

Following the unmaskings of Antonio “the Hippo” Brown, Tommy “the Pineapple” Chong, Terry “the Deer” Bradshaw, Margaret “the Poodle” Cho, Tori “the Unicorn” Spelling, Ricki “the Raven” Lake, La Toya “the Alien” Jackson, Rumer “the Lion” Willis and Joey “the Rabbit” Fatone, on this week’s hotly anticipated-by-me finale, it all came down to the Bee, the Monster and the Peacock.

For the sake of suspense, you’ll have to scroll to see all three reveals and the results.

11 PHOTOS
Season 1 Masked Singer competitors
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Season 1 Masked Singer competitors
MASKED SINGER: Poodle. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Lion. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Unicorn. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Alien (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Bee. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Hippo. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Peacock. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Rabbit. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Raven. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Deer. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
MASKED SINGER: Monster. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
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THIRD PLACE:

The Bee

This season's clues: This buzzy diva has been performing since she was a little girl in the 1950s (when she formed a band with her relatives), drops many references to “Georgia,” goes by the nickname “Empress” and loves to bake. She’s also been “very dear friends” with Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin.

My guess: It was obvious that this was Gladys Knight from the moment she opened those bee-strung lips, even without hearing a single clue. There’s just no mistaking the Empress of Soul’s iconic voice.

Was I right? Of course I was! The only surprise here -- and it’s a biggie -- is the fact that a legend who did a gorgeous midair rendition of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” on Wednesday’s finale, sang at Aretha’s funeral, led the Aretha tribute at last year’s American Music Awards, sang the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl and has won a combined 10 Grammys not only DID NOT WIN THE MASKED SINGER, but came in third.

She won’t be adding a Golden Mask trophy to her very crowded mantel. 2019 sure has been a strange, strange year so far.

SECOND PLACE:

The Peacock

This season’s clues: The 176-pound showman “started out as a little teenybopper” and has gone through “different incarnations” of his career, ranging from Vegas stints to dramatic acting roles. He’s also been shown cuddling a puppy, was a “dear friend” of Michael Jackson (aka the Alien’s sister) and once wore a curly wig straight out of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Also, his face has been tattooed on a person’s body.

He dedicated one performance to his “soldiers of affection,” and told judge Robin Thicke that one of his albums used "Blurred Lines" as an inspiration.

My guess: Although at the very beginning of the season I thought this might be another teen idol like Leif Garrett or Corey Feldman, it became obvious by week two that this was Donny Osmond.

Was I right? Yep! Check out Donny’s reveal and retro-Shindig! “Shake a Tailfeather” performance here. They’re even crazier than “Crazy Horses.”

THE WINNER:

The Monster

This season's clues: “Not everyone” considers him a professional singer (he has been “vilified and persecuted for sounding like a ringtone”), but now he is back to “rewrite his mixtape.” This party-monster is also from the Dirty South and has a fondness for Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” -- which a certain AutoTune rapper performed in the Yahoo studio in 2005.

My guess: At the start of the season I thought this might be Ja Rule, but that dude can’t sing with this much fyre. It became obvious in week two, when the Monster covered that DeGraw song, that this was the one, the only… T-Pain.

Was I right? Yes I was, so everyone please buy me a congratulatory drank. “This Is How We Do It,” indeed.

“You guys treated me with just the utmost respect, and that's really hard to come by in the industry that I'm in,” T-Pain told the judges, none of whom ever guessed his identity correctly. (To the judges’ credit, they did mention Gladys and Donny’s names occasionally.)

“Since I first hit the scene, I've been in dire need of a second chance, and I think you guys gave it to me with The Masked Singer.” "This man's musical journey is amazing," said host Nick Cannon. "Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, performer, producer. 

Some people only thinking that you have the skills to sing through AutoTune. I think you proved the world wrong, right here on this stage, that you are an amazing vocalist. 

It is honor to present you with the trophy." I am not sure if T-Pain really needed to prove that he can legitimately sing after his AutoTune-free NPR Tiny Desk concert performance earlier this year was such a sensation.

But I do know his game-changing, spectacular Sam Smith cover on The Masked Singerlast week was, along with the rest of this season, the perfect promotion for his comeback album 1UP -- which, probably not coincidentally, he surprise-dropped on Wednesday, mere hours before his big Masked Singer reveal! Let’s hope it's a monster hit.

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