SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched “The Masked Singer” Season 6, Episode 12, “Group B Finale,” which aired December 9 on Fox.
Singer Katharine McPhee and producer David Foster say “The Masked Singer” producers actually “undersold” how much fun they’d have as contestants on the hit Fox reality series. “We had the best time,” Foster said. “No regrets.” The couple were unmasked as the Banana Split on the twelfth episode of Season 6, “Group B Finale.”
“We didn’t have any summer plans,” McPhee said. “I was five months postpartum, and COVID was raging. We just thought, what are we going to do, sit at home all summer long and just look at each other? So we did that, we looked at each other for two or three weeks straight on the show. And just had so much fun. And I was very upset that I lost that we didn’t take the whole thing home.”
Referring to her time on “American Idol,” in which she was the Season 5 runner-up in 2006 (she lost to Taylor Hicks), McPhee joked, “I don’t want to always come up as a runner up. You know, I’ve already done that before. I wanted to win!”
Instead, with Banana Split out of the picture, this brings the show down to two finalists, Group A winner Bull and Group B victor Queen of Hearts, who will now go head-to-head next week in the season finale.
Because it was just down to two finalists, after performing their initial songs, the contestants also sang a second number as a duet with one of the show’s panelists. Banana Split was paired with Robin Thicke, while Queen of Hearts sang with Nicole Scherzinger.
For Banana Split, Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg and Nicole Scherzinger all got it right, with McPhee and Foster; Robin Thicke went with Ryan Tedder and Leona Lewis.
“ I was kind of shocked that people figured it out as quickly as they did,” McPhee said of the Banana Split’s identity. “I just thought, I’m not that popular of a recording artist, so people won’t know my voice that well. But maybe from my ‘Smash’ years, my voice has become a little bit more recognizable. I was surprised that people guessed me as quickly as they did.”
McPhee as one-half of Banana Split sang “Singing in the Rain,” by Arthur Freed, and for her duet sang “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” by Stevie Wonder, with Thicke.
McPhee’s and Foster’s previous performances included “A Million Dreams,” by Pink; “Cry Me a River,” by Michael Bublé; “Let ‘Er Rip,” by The Chicks; and “Poker Face,” by Lady Gaga.
Besides performing the piano (there were holes in the Banana’s hand, allowing him to play), Foster also helped produce McPhee’s performances. And there were more they had tried but didn’t get on the show, including Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity” and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License.” (They couldn’t do that one due to clearance issues, however).
McPhee and Foster won’t reveal the song they had in mind had they moved on to the finals, however. “We don’t want to give it to somebody else,” Foster said. “But it was a showstopper.”
McPhee said the costume was difficult to wear: “Obviously the headpiece was very heavy,” she said. “So the heaviness of it was the biggest struggle for me, because it weighed down on me and made my breathing a little bit more shallow, which obviously affects the singing. David, they catered to his specific needs, he’s got a major claustrophobia issue. He won’t take elevators or anything. So his actual banana head was very easy to take off. He just literally just popped it off.”
The panelists — well, except Thicke — had guessed McPhee and Foster from the beginning. But other names that had been brought up over the season included J. Lo and Mark Antony, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Craig Robinson and Ashley Tisdale, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban, Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman, Jeff Goldblum and his wife Emily, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Zooey Deschanel and Lamorne Morris; Ed Sheeran and Jessie J, Ryan Tedder and Leona Lewis, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt.
David Foster and Katharine McPhee (Banana Split) joined Faith Evans (Skunk), Willie Robertson (Mallard) and Bobby Berk (Caterpillar) joined Natasha Bedingfield (Pepper), John Lydon/Johnny Rotten (Jester), “Mama June” Shannon and Alana “Honey Boo Boo” Thompson (Beach Ball), Rob Schneider (Hamster), Ruth Pointer (Cupcake), Larry the Cable Guy (Baby), Tyga (Dalmatian), Toni Braxton (Pufferfish), Vivica A. Fox (Mother Nature) and Dwight Howard (Octopus) as the next celebrity to be unmasked on Season 6 of “The Masked Singer.”
“The Masked Singer” entered Season 6 with the return of a studio audience for the first time since the pandemic began. This season’s costumes include Baby, Banana Split, Beach Ball, Bull, Caterpillar, Cupcake, Dalmatian, Hamster, Jester, Mallard, Mother Nature, Octopus, Pepper, Pufferfish, Queen of Hearts and Skunk.
The Season 6 contestants boast a combined 85 Grammy Nominations and 27 wins, three Academy Award nominations, 12 Emmy Nominations, 12 Razzie Award Nominations, two Super Bowl appearances and two Lifetime Achievement Awards.
The show’s panelists are once again competing for a “Golden Ear” trophy based on their first impressions of each masked performer (which McCarthy has won the last two seasons). Jeong, Scherzinger and Thicke went into episode 12 with a point each, ahead of McCarthy Wahlberg.
For Banana Split, Thicke’s first impression was “Jennifer Nettles and that other guy”; McCarthy Wahlberg’s initial choice was Katharine McPhee and David Foster. Jeong and Scherzinger picked McPhee and Foster as well.
That means Jeong and Scherzinger now have two points, in front of Thicke and McCarthy Wahlberg, who both have one.
Also new this season, a “Take It Off” buzzer allowed the show’s panelists to prematurely demand a celebrity remove their mask, if they’re convinced they know who it is. They’ll get two extra points toward the Golden Ear tally if they’re right. But the buzzer was only used twice, and neither time was correct. The buzzer is now retired for the season.
Here was the other contestant and her performance:
Queen of Hearts
Song: “Bird Set Free,” by Sia
Duet: (with Nicole Scherzinger) “Dream On,” by Aerosmith
Previous song: “Born This Way,” by Lady Gaga; “La Vie En Rose,” by Edith Piaf; “River,” by Bishop Briggs; “She’s Got You,” by Patsy Cline
Nick Cannon cannon clue: “Wrestle.” “I’m not afraid, like you, to get in the ring and get a little bit dirty.”
Voice-over: “For my entire life, I wanted to have a sense of community. And I found it in some unusual and unexpected places. There was definitely a time in my life when I was living like an animal. My main concerns were where to get food, where to get shelter that’s safe. I remember this one time when I was walking down the street and I was really losing hope, and this man passed by and looked at me and darn it if that man did not reach into his pocket and hand me out a five dollar bill. That meant the world. I’ve gotten to see life from both sides now, real poor and real wealthy. And I’ve got to say, it’s the poorest people who are the most generous. ”
Panel guesses: Christina Aguilera, KT Tunstall, Paula Cole, Jewel
Previous panel guesses: Britney Spears, Kellie Pickler, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Fergie, Renee Zellweger, Ireland Baldwin, Ashley Judd, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Kacey Musgraves, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lawrence, Jewel, Kristin Chenoweth, Kelly Clarkson, Sia