Talk about timing. Rocker Bret Michaels was the latest celebrity to be revealed on “The Masked Singer” — and it happened to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Poison frontman’s brain hemorrhage that left him in intensive care for nearly two weeks.
Michaels, who performed as the Banana on “Masked Singer,” marveled at what he called “the irony, not knowing that these two dates would ever line up on any level, but here it is April 22, and the song selection I chose came down to two songs, and I went with ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ to sing tonight… Exactly as this show aired is when I was in emergency room, in the operating room, they were operating on my brain. And I’m singing that song. Life is ironic. A moment of surrealness tonight, for sure.”
Michaels, whose lengthy unscripted resume includes “Rock of Love” and “Celebrity Apprentice,” said he was game for “Masked Singer” after watching the first two seasons with his kids — and also by himself.
“I like to think I’m a real-life boy detective, so I’m always watching detective shows, ‘Forensic Files,'” he said. “And so, there’s part singer, part crazy mask costume, and then part detective work. The show was fun. And last year, [the panelists] had thought I was the Eagle [which wound up being] Dr. Drew. So this season I thought, this is perfect, I’m on tour, so they’ll never think of me doing it. The minute they asked, I was like, if I can make this work, I am in.”
As for the difficulty level, Michaels said “it goes up by about 1,000. You’re changing your voice. You’re trying to not do the same leg movements, or hand gestures that you do, so that no one figures it out. You have no peripheral vision. You’re singing through a small hole. And when I say hot, I lost a healthy five pounds in that outfit.”
Michaels said he tried to throw off the panelists by wearing a bigger shoe size, changing the height and singing unexpected songs. But ultimately, many fans figured out it was him.
“There’s part of you praying that no one discovers you, so you stay longer or until the end,” he said. “And then there’s a part of you that goes, ‘I hope to God after 30 years someone knows who the hell I am.’ You know when they say, not to have a pun, but ‘roses and thorns’? It’s the best of both worlds.” (Yes, Michaels did just inadvertently namecheck his hit “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”)
As the Banana, Michaels performed “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” by Bob Dylan, on Wednesday night’s episode, and he also sat behind a grand piano. But as he came out to perform on this episode, Michaels said he was also thrown for a second by the fact that Sharon Osbourne — someone he’s known for years — was the guest panelist.
“You walk out of this tunnel and my heart’s always pounding,” he said. “It’s the weirdest thing because the show is so much fun, but it’s also really serious. They really, truly protect everyone’s identity. So I’m walking out there and I’m looking up at Sharon. And I’m thinking, ‘uh-oh.’ I had to stay focused. Because there’s people in the crowd, whispering, ‘Banana, I know it’s Bret, I know it’s you!’ And I can’t look over or even acknowledge it. I went down to the piano. And I looked up at Sharon, and I took a little breath and then everything kind of starts.”
Turns out Michaels was right, Osbourne immediately identified him: “I know his voice so well.. I’ve known you, what, 35 years?” she said.
Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg also got it right and picked Michaels, while Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke decided to join in and choose Michaels too. Ken Jeong was the one outlier, picking Brad Paisley.
Michaels had been on tour in Oklahoma when the coronavirus shut everything down — and he noted that as a type one diabetic, he’s in the highest risk category.
“If I could leave one note, it’s to let everyone know two things: We’re obviously, all of us, in this together, to get healthy again,” he said. “But number two, a big thank you to all of our frontline first responders and fighters who are out there keeping us as safe as they can.”
Meanwhile, Michaels’ “Masked Singer” appearance comes as he gets ready to release his first book, “Bret Michaels: Auto-Scrap-Ography,” on May 12. The book is a mix of audio and video elements, in addition to photos and print stories.
“I travel from birth to ‘Masked Singer’ to everything,” he said. “I read the whole thing and then you have still images of each chapter, and it has moving images. The book is heart felt, truly handwritten by me. I’ve gone through a lot of things in my life, but it stays positive. It will be a good fun summer read about facing adversity and overcoming everything from music to life to diabetes.”
Besides Michaels, so far this season, Lil Wayne, Drew Carey, Chaka Khan, Tony Hawk, Dionne Warwick, Tom Bergeron, Sarah Palin, Bella Thorne, JoJo Siwa, Rob Gronkowski and Jordyn Woods have all been revealed.
As the competition continues, six celebrities are left this season: Turtle, Frog, Kitty, Rhino, Astronaut and Night Angel. Next week, the “Battle of the Sixes” takes place.
Here’s a recap of this week’s contestants and their performances on Wednesday:
Frog vs. Kitty
Frog’s song: “Fireball,” by Pitbull
Clues from Frog’s bag: Sneakers, keyboard, icecube tray, Japan flag, “Thank God It’s Frogday”
Panel guesses: Katt Williams, Alfonso Ribiero, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Kitty’s song: “True Colors,” by Cyndi Lauper
Clues from Kitty’s bag: Dragon, pope hat, “If found CALL ME??? Be A Hero!”
Panel guesses: Vanessa Hudgens, Emma Roberts, Kate Bosworth
Banana vs. Rhino
Banana’s song: “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” by Bob Dylan
Clues from Banana’s bag: Cat, bug spray, Nashville sheriff badge, backstage crew tag
Panel guesses: Bret Michaels, Keith Urban, Kid Rock
Rhino’s song: “10,000 Hours,” by Dan+Shay and Justin Bieber
Clues from Rhino’s bag: Lump of coal in a Christmas stocking, seal with a bow tie, house, Tennessee flag
Panel guesses: Sam Hunt, Gary Busey, David Hasselhoff, Jonathan Scott
Smackdown: Kitty vs. Banana
Kitty song: “Unstoppable,” by Sia
Banana song: “Brick House,” by The Commodores