Look what the mask dragged in: 'Masked Singer' Banana is beloved '80s rock star


Well, it took a hard rock expert — guest judge Sharon Osbourne, a.k.a. Ozzy’s wife/manager, a.k.a. the Ladybug’s mom — to figure out what I (and every other rock fan in America) knew all along. The Masked Singer’s Banana is in indeed reality TV regular, a-peel-ing party dude, and Poison frontman Bret Michaels.

Every clue of the season had indicated that, inside that Banana, lurked a man more famous for wearing bandannas. The hangovers. The old-school Hollywood area code 213. The two teenage daughters. The recent loss of his father. The fact that his “memory is not what it used to be” due to a “traumatic injury.” That time when he almost quoted a Poison song, then stopped himself and described The Masked Singer as “nothin’ but… the ultimate fun” instead. This week’s clues even included a cat that had been dragged in, a mouth that was opening up and saying ahh, some poisonous bug spray, and a backstage pass.

Oh yeah… and the Banana moved and sounded exactly like Bret Michaels. Even when he was talking, with that weird Frampton-talkbox audio effect to disguise his voice, he sounded exactly like Bret Michaels. So yeah, there was that.

And yet, while regular judge Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg finally got wise a couple weeks ago, her clueless fellow panelists thought this might be Brad Paisley, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bill Engvall, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, or even Larry the Cable Guy. But shrewd Sharon took one listen to Bret’s costumed cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” — which was clearly inspired by onetime Poison rivals Guns N’ Roses’ version, and pretty much sounded just like Poison’s power ballad “Something to Believe In” — and she knew what was up.

Wednesday’s episode, starring four of this season’s celebrity cosplayers, featured a “Smackdown” round — with Bret competing against country crooner the Rhino, and hippity-hopper the Frog going head-to-oversized-head with sexy starlet the Kitty. And I really don’t understand why the Banana had to split this week; I feel his stadium-worthy performance, which included some mimed Elton-style piano and an audacious piano-bench-kicking, was way more competitive than the Rhino’s mellow Dan + Shay cover. However, when the Banana faced off against the Kitty’s “Unstoppable,” it turned out that, well, he was stoppable. And so, his Banana face came off.

Did Wednesday’s three surviving contestants, listed below, do a better job than the Banana when it came to fooling the audience? I don’t know, but I do know that this episode was nothin’ but a good time. Or… nothin’ but the ultimate fun.

The Frog, “Fireball”

The Frog may not be the strongest singer of this season, but he knows how to bring the fire, week after week — which is why he surprisingly beat out world-class vocalist the Kitty in his Smackdown. Sharon was even getting a little heated, flirting with him from behind her desk. I think this showman has a great chance of leapfrogging straight into the finale.

Judges’ guesses: Katt Williams, Alfonso Ribeiro, O’Shea Jackson.

My guess: Every single one of the past clues has had me thinking this is rapper Bow Wow. And this week’s mixed bag of visual cues didn’t change my mind. A sign reading “Thank God It’s Frogday” was likely a reference to his radio show RnB Fridays, and the ice cube tray was linked to Bow Wow’s 2011 sitcom with Ice Cube. And the Japan flag might even point to a Japanese rock band by the same name.

The Kitty, “True Colors”

The Kitty is one of this season’s most diverse contenders, and one of the few who can do a simple, stripped-down performance (well, simple and stripped-down by Masked Singer standards) and still impress. “We’ve seen her go big, we’ve seen her go sultry, and now we’ve seen her break it down and just rely on her beautiful voice,” said judge Robin Thicke, “and those kinds of traits are what gets you to the finals.”

Judges’ guesses: Vanessa Hudgens, Emma Roberts, Kate Bosworth.

My guess: It took me a while to figure out who this kitty-girl is, but now, in my ninth life of guesses, I finally believe this is former America’s Got Talent opera prodigy Jackie Evancho. This week’s clues make me even more confident: the Pope hat (she’s performed for Pope Francis), the Christmas angel (she’s released several holiday albums), and a dragon (she’s a Game of Thrones nerd). The cat’s out of the bag!

The Rhino, “10,000 Hours”

As I have already argued, I think the Rhino should have lost the Smackdown to the Banana. That being said, this was a solid performance. It was just a bit meandering, and it took a while for him to get to his (wait for it) point.

Judges’ guesses: Tim Tebow, Sam Hunt, Gary Busey, David Hasselhoff, Jonathan Scott.

My guesses: A couple weeks ago, I thought this might be Barry Zito. But then the Rhino said he’s actually a professional singer with Billboard hits. So then I started think this might Trace Adkins, Sam Hunt, or Travis Tritt. (A couple weeks ago, Robin thought this was actually Duff McKagan. I am sure Sharon would have set Robin straight.) This one’s tough. I will stick with Zito (who did have a country EP on the Billboard Heatseekers chart), just because I was quoted in this Yahoo Sports article and I can’t back down now.

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Originally published