SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead if you have not watched “The Masked Singer” Season 6, Episode 9, “Group A Semi-Final,” which aired November 10 on Fox.
Nevermind the bollocks, this will no longer be “Unwritten”: Both the Sex Pistols’ John Lydon – a.k.a. Johnny Rotten — and singer Natasha Bedingfield are the latest celebrities to be revealed on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.” Lydon/Rotten was unmasked as the Jester, while Bedingfield turned out to be Pepper, as seen on the ninth episode of Season 6, “Group A Semi-Final.”
For Jester, no one got Lydon/Rotten right. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg thought it was Dee Snider. Ken Jeong went with Roger Daltry. Nicole Scherzinger guessed Gene Simmons. Robin Thicke said it was Flea. Guest panelist Will.i.am went with Joe Elliott, lead singer of Def Leppard.
“You’ve only got one life and you must explore all the possibilities and be limited by no one for no reason,” said Lydon, also known as the frontman of Public Image Ltd.
Lydon/Rotten as the Jester sang “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow,” by Soggy Bottom Boys. He had previously performed “School’s Out,” by Alice Cooper.
“This show’s a riot! So much fun,” he said in the show’s voice over. “But it’s very difficult, because it’s a completely different way of working. As the wild card, I must seem like some sort of scallywag who’s just bumped in at the very last minute. Ha ha! The other singers have all slogged their way through the season, and in comes the Jester, the man who came in from the cold. The person who I think is going to get the biggest kick out of this is my wife. We’ve been together for 45 years. But unfortunately, her health isn’t what it used to be. But no illness can stand in the way of how much I love her. And when she sees this, it’s going to be a complete blast to her. And she’ll know it’s me without a doubt.”
In a previous episode, Lydon had also hinted at his true identity: “I’ve been called an icon. You could say I’ve changed the course of history. I’ve even been voted one of the 100 most influential people of all time. But I’ve also been called a scoundrel. I’ve offended heads of state, been banned from famous venues. Though in reality I’m not a bad guy. In fact, that’s why I’m here. To show the world I’m a lovable, sensitive, multi-faceted clown who just wants to make you laugh. I’ll do whatever it takes to entertain this court, and that’s no joke.”
Then there was Pepper, and Nicole Scherzinger got Bedingfield right. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg thought it was Dido. Ken Jeong went with Pink. Robin Thicke said it was Mandy Moore. Guest panelist Will.i.am went with Sia.
As Pepper, Bedingfield performed “Sign of the Times,” by Harry Styles. Her previous songs included “Jealous,” by Labrinth, and “No Tears Left to Cry,” by Ariana Grande. Were she to continue, Bedingfield said she next planned to sing “All By Myself,” by Eric Carmen.
Bedingfield said it was hard to keep her “Masked Singer” presence a secret, especially after her fans quickly figured it out and started leaving pepper emojis on her social media. “I’m just like trying to ignore it and some people were like, ‘I bet my house it’s her,’” she said.
Bedingfield was tapped to participate as a wild card, which means she was quickly thrust into production. She told Variety she decided to do it to challenge herself. “And it’s a huge show. I actually find the show very entertaining. And it was really fun to play it to my nieces and nephew. Get them to watch it and see, and obviously I didn’t tell them but they they knew instantly that it was me.”
In her voiceover, Bedingfield said she joined the competition just a few days before it started, which meant “I had to adjust very quickly. I can’t believe I made it to the semi-finals. My whole goal is to explore another side of myself. I had the good girl thing going for a long time, and with the Pepper comes a lot of spice and hotness and energy. Tonight I’m going to dig into my ability to tell a story. All the songs I’ve sung so far, they’ve got a lot of emotion in them, like recovering from pain. But the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced is watching the one I loved and cared for most face the unthinkable. I just remembered wanting things to get better, and this song reminds me of that.”
Other panel guesses had previously included Hailee Steinfeld, Idina Menzel and Elle Goulding.
Natasha Bedingfield (Pepper) and John Lydon/Johnny Rotten (Jester) joined “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 celebrities 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 will once again compete for a “Golden Ear” trophy based on their first impressions of each masked performer (which McCarthy has won the last two seasons). Jeong went into episode eight with a point, ahead of everyone else.
For Jester, Thicke’s first impression was Alice Cooper; McCarthy Wahlberg’s initial choice was Dee Snider. Jeong picked Roger Daltry. Scherzinger gave Sammy Hagar for her first impression. No one gained a point.
As for Pepper, Thicke’s first impression was Carly Rae Jepsen; McCarthy Wahlberg’s initial choice was Lana Del Rey. Jeong picked Kesha. Scherzinger gave Bedingfield for her first impression. Scherzinger gained a point, which now puts her tied with Jeong.
Also new this season, a “Take It Off” buzzer will allow 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. If they’re wrong, they’ll be “severely punished.”
This week, Jeong pressed the button for Pepper, and guessed Sara Bareilles. And he was wrong.
Here were the other contestants and their performances on episode 9, “Group A Semi-Final”:
Song: “Rain on Me,” by Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
Previous songs: “Drops of Jupiter,” by Train; “What Hurts the Most,” by Rascal Flatts; “Circus,” by Britney Spears; “Make You Feel My Love,” by Bob Dylan
Bling shot clue: For Will.i.am: “Ring” “We have more in common than you think. Does that ring a bell?”
Voice-over: “Last time that number was very vulnerable, I had to dig deep and I showed the panel exactly what I can do. I cannot believe that I am in the semi finales. I am the most nervous I have ever been in my entire career. I’m used to be a solo performer but this is a whole new level of profession. I have a habit of comparing myself to other people to the point where it could be crippling. I chose a song that I hope will let everyone know I’m a true triple threat.”
Panel guesses: Billy Porter, Usher, Jason DeRulo, Ne-Yo
Previous panel guesses: Hunter Hayes, Lance Bass, Brian Littrell, Sisqo, Dwayne Johnson, Darren Criss, Justin Timberlake, Brandon Flowers, Rufus Wainwright, Kevin Jonas, Zac Efron, Donald Glover, Anthony Ramos, Leslie Odom Jr., Taye Diggs, Cheyenne Jackson, Lil Nas X
Song: “At Last,” by Etta James
Previous songs: “Diamonds,” by Sam Smith; “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” by James Brown; “Midnight Train to Georgia,” by Gladys Knight & the Pips; “Square Biz,” by Teena Marie
Bling shot clue: For Nicole: “Love.” “Nicole, I think you could say that we have a love connection.”
Voice-over: “Now is the semi-finals and the pressure is on! There’s some stiff competition here. It’s raising the stakes for me as a performer. Bull to me is the one to beat. It’s making me rethink some things. I need more passion, I need more emotion. I need more soul. No matter what these other contestants bring, every song I sing, I make it my own. Tonight I’m bringing out the big guns. Etta James’ ‘At Last.’ And I’ve been told she would want me to portray her in a movie. But honestly, the thing I’m most proud of these days is that my kids can see me perform on this stage. Their mama’s still got it.”
Panel guesses: Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Jill Scott
Previous panel guesses: Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige, Toni Braxton, Janet Jackson, Sade, Lauryn Hill, Yolanda Adams, Jill Scott, Fantasia Barrino, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, Taraji P. Henson, Queen Latifah, Tamar Braxton, Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, Faith Evans