SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched Season 4, Episode 9 of “The Masked Singer,” which aired Nov. 26 on Fox.
Paul Anka is thankful for his time on “The Masked Singer,” even though he was the latest celebrity to be revealed on the hit competition series. On a special Thanksgiving airing, Anka was unmasked as the Broccoli. (Scroll down to watch Anka’s reveal from the episode.)
Anka said “The Masked Singer” was the perfect way for him to perform during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also take a break from recording his latest album, which he’s currently producing for release next year.
“I was really locked in a studio and with COVID-19, not socializing or getting out, obviously,” Anka told Variety. “Once I talked to my son and my girlfriend and then some people in my staff I said, yeah I got to get out of here and I think it’d be a lot of fun.”
Among the panelists, Robin Thicke was the only one to figure out it was Anka, but for good reason: As fellow Canadians in entertainment, Anka and Thicke already knew each other.
“It’s a pretty close knit community,” said Anka, who also knew Thicke’s late father, Alan Thicke. “There was a lot of diversity in who they guessed, from Bill Murray to Wayne Newton. I suspected Robin would [figure it out] because I wasn’t really changing my voice that much, other than I was doing a lot of movement. I don’t really suspect a lot of people watching or even on the panel have ever seen me in person other than maybe Robin.”
Nicole Scherzinger guessed Wayne Newton, Ken Jeong thought it was Ringo Starr, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg’s guess was Neil Sedaka and guest panelist Jay Pharoah guessed Paul Simon.
Anka, as Broccoli, sang “Old Time Rock & Roll,” by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, for his final performance. In previous episodes he also sang “House Is Rockin'”/”Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jerry Lee Lewis, and “Hello,” by Lionel Richie.
“That was the point, to have fun and a lot of movement,” Anka said of the mostly uptempo numbers. “By putting the energy and songs I don’t normally do, I felt it could throw them a little bit.”
Anka said he chose the Broccoli costume because he’s a “health nut.”
“I was going with the flow, I don’t exist with expectations, most things in life,” he said. “So I was just going along with the flow of it. I think I went further than I thought I would, frankly. I wasn’t really ready to be in a costume for three weeks, but those costumes are amazing. I think the big turn on for a lot of fans is those costumes are unbelievable.”
He did admit that the costumes and tech took a little bit of getting used to. “I’m a guy that’s old school in the sense that there’s no tricks,” he said. “I don’t have in-ears and I work a certain way. And I come from the Rat Pack group and we had certain execution when we sing. But once you get in a suit, that’s not really fitting you in a form of normality, and then the heat, and then the visual’s very tough because of the screen. And then you’ve got a hand that’s five times size of yours. But once you get past the first [performance], and the heaviness of everything, then you just deal with it, you apply yourself and do it.”
As for his new album, Anka said he’s working with guests such as Il Divo and Olivia Newton-John. But most notably, he’s working with Andrea Bocelli and taking the master recording of Frank Sinatra singing “My Way” (which Anka wrote) to produce a new version of the song.
“When I originally wrote it for Sinatra in 1968, I had the rights to have it on one of my albums,” Anka said. “I didn’t want to just do ‘My Way,’ so I thought it would be interesting if I could get Bocelli, and then get Frank’s master, mix it in with me with an orchestra. The technology today is amazing, you’re able to do those kinds of things. So it’s, me, Bocelli, Sinatra, and we’re singing ‘My Way’ together. To be able to meld them properly, with Bocelli was a big challenge but we pulled it off. And it’s an exciting part of the album.”
In the Group C final round smackdown, Anka as Broccoli performed “Take Me Down” by Alabama, while the Mushroom sang “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway.
New this season, the show’s panelists are also competing for a “Golden Ear” trophy based on their first impressions of each masked performer — and going into the episode, McCarthy Wahlberg was in the lead with three, while Thicke and Scherzinger had two points each, and Jeong so far had zero.
Scherzinger’s first impression guess was Bill Murray; Jeong’s was Martin Short; Thicke’s was Bob Newhart; and McCarthy Wahlberg said Jerry Springer. No one picked up another point this week.
This season’s costumes include Baby Alien, Crocodile, Broccoli, Gremlin, Mushroom, Jellyfish, Whatchamacalit, Lips, Squiggly Monster, Popcorn, Sun, Dragon, Giraffe, Seahorse, Snow Owls and Serpent.
Previously unmasked have been Lonzo Ball (Whatchamacalit), “Dr. Elvis” Francois (Serpent), Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black (Snow Owls), Bob Saget (Squiggly Monster), Wendy Williams (Lips), Mark Sanchez (Baby Alien), Brian Austin Green (Giraffe), Mickey Rourke (Gremlin) and Busta Rhymes (Dragon).
That means heading into the championship round, the final six are Crocodile, Mushroom, Jellyfish, Popcorn, Sun and Seahorse.
Here were the other contestants and their performances in week nine, “The Group C Finals — The Masks Give Thanks”:
Song: “Unconditionally,” by Katy Perry
Panel guesses: Jaden Smith, Taye Diggs, The Weeknd
Clue: “The name that I go by now was not my name when I first sprouted.”
Friend voice-over: “Off the record, Mushroom has always been a go-getter. In high school, Mushroom was class president. With a GPA of over 4.0. When Mushy’s mind is set on something, Mushy goes after it hard core. Whether it’s helping underprivileged youth or making calls for important causes, Mushroom’s work ethic is unrivaled.”
Previous songs: “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell; “If I Could Turn Back Time,” by Cher
Previous panel guesses: Donald Glover, Usher, Frank Ocean, Adam Lambert, Jaden Smith
Song: “Don’t Start Now,” by Dua Lipa
Panel guesses: Charli XCX, Kylie Jenner, McKayla Maroney
Clue: “If you find this, you’ll know I’ve never performed on a stage quite like this before.”
Sister voice-over: “Jellyfish has always been the rebel of our by-the-book family and in reality she’s also the overachiever. Even though she’s ticked off so many accomplishments already, she’s always eager to challenge herself in new arenas. We love singing together with our favorite show so I’m no stranger to her gorgeous voice. And with her work ethic, it’s no surprise she’s come this far.”
Previous songs: “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” by Fergie; “Crazy,” by Patsy Cline
Previous Panel guesses: Gabby Douglas, Chloe Grace Moretz, Awkwafina, Sofia Richie, Lana Condor, Halle Bailey.
Here is the video of Anka being unmasked: