Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is the latest celebrity to be revealed on “The Masked Singer,” as the show’s final nine contestants faced off for the first time on Wednesday night’s episode.
As the White Tiger, Gronkowski performed “I’m Too Sexy,” by Right Said Fred. In previous weeks he performed “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice, “We Will Rock You” by Queen, and “Good Vibrations,’ by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.
“I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” said Gronkowski, who’s now an NFL studio analyst for Fox Sports. “It was difficult at times, learning the first song and the first dance routine. I’ve never done that before. Now that I’ve got time on my hands, I figured, why not?”
On balance, Gronkowski said the experience was “a blast.” Why the White Tiger? “They showed me three different costumes and they were all good,” he said. “All the costumes on the show are outstanding. The White Tiger stood out to me. It bit me, and I felt it was definitely the right choice. That’s who I needed to be. I felt like it represented me. On top of that, wearing the costume is a project on its own. You’ve definitely got to get used to that. Another conditioning level right there. You’re sweating by the time it’s over, and insane amount of sweat. It’s definitely hard to move in, you’ve got to get used to it.”
Gronkowski said he was most proud of his performance on “Ice Ice Baby,” which is his go-to karaoke song. “Good Vibrations” was a challenge, however: “I was out of breath and I missed a couple of lyrics. That shows how difficult it is, no matter who you are.”
Ultimately, Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg and Robin Thicke both thought it was Gronkowski, while Nicole Scherzinger believed it was John Cena and Ken Jeong picked another football player, J.J. Watt.
“The size I was, my performance, my dance moves, I felt like Jenny did figure it out right away because her husband’s a big New England fan,” he said. “She had my movements down. It’s cool she knew, that’s cool to have Jenny as a fan. And everyone knowing my moves, because my moves are so legit they knew it was me underneath. I can’t blame them. But it would have been cool if they didn’t know.”
Gronkowski said he had to bite his tongue over the past few months, as most people had figured out his identity. “I’ve heard from everyone,” he said. “No matter where I went. I was in Disney World and the workers were asking me if I was the White Tiger. I was going on Instagram Live and all the comments were, ‘are you the White Tiger?’ It was cool to see how big of a following the show has.”
Gronkowski was the first star to be kicked off in the Super 9, as the final phase of this season’s competition got underway. His exit this season follows Lil Wayne, Drew Carey, Chaka Khan, Tony Hawk, Dionne Warwick, Tom Bergeron, Sarah Palin, Bella Thorne and JoJo Siwa.
Still left this year: Turtle, Kangaroo, Frog, Kitty, Banana, Rhino, Astronaut and Night Angel. While White Tiger was the Group A singer with the least amount of votes, Banana had the least amount from Group B, and Rhino was last in Group C.
For the Super 9, Fox pulled out all the stops: Not only was the episode two hours long, but Nick Cannon brought back his turban, and “Eric from San Bernardino” showed up to pull an April Fool’s prank on the panelists, who thought he was Snoop Dogg.
Here’s a recap of the other contestants and their performances on Wednesday:
Song: “Higher Love,” by Steve Winwood
Voice-over: “Just like my costume, I’m hard core about being the best at everything I do. I realized that to win, I had to become one with the Turtle, like a method actor. First, I run a 10K before each show, wearing a 40 lb. vest to get used to the heaviness of my shell. That’s a quarter my body weight. Next, to win this I know you need to have more than a good voice. So I added tons of choreo. Even though I’m not a dancer. Entering the Super 9, it’s really hitting how badly I want to win that trophy.”
What are you not? “I’m not known for just one thing.”
Panel guesses: Drew Lachey, Brian Littrell, Nick Lachey, Chris Evans
Song: “Not Ready to Make Nice,” by Dixie Chicks
Voice-over: “Coming into this competition, I knew I had to put on a brave hidden face. After all, I came here to show my strength, and bounce back after being vilified by the kanga-rumors about my past. After my first performance, I started believing in myself like never before. But I’ve got to be honest, I’m incredibly nervous every time I’m on that stage. When you see me jumping, I’m just trying to shake my nerves. Tonight, I feel even more out of my league. But that’s why I’m singing a fighter’s anthem. I’ve been put through hell this year and this performance is my response.”
What are you not? “I may be a kangaroo, but I’ve never lived in Australia.”
Panel guesses: Amber Rose, LeAnn Rhimes, India.Arie
Song: “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now,” by Celine Dion
Voice-over: “Since starting young, for a large part of my life I’ve struggled with my self-image, regardless of my success. My mind only saw darkness and ugliness when I looked in the mirror. Even when I first got here, I felt like I was at a party meant for other people, like I was the odd cat out. But there’s something special to me that happens when I put on the Kitty costume. She makes me feel assertive, and confident, and beautiful. Every week I get to let my freak flag fly, and show the depth of my soul. That newfound confidence has been building to tonight. I feel like I deserve to be here and could go all the way.”
What are you not? “I was not dreaming when Robert Redford helped me to get my very first role.”
Panel guesses: Nicole Richie, Vanessa Hudgens, Emma Roberts, Avril Lavigne
Song: “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Voice-over: “When I first got here, I was just a party boy looking for a good time. But after that first performance, I didn’t want to take this costume off. But man, a traumatic injury from my past made me forget the lyrics for my second performance. But I rallied the next go-round. Now I can’t believe I’m in the Super 9, and I’m not ready for the trip to end here.”
What are you not? “I can tell you this, blue collar has many, many meanings. When I say blue collar, I’m a funny guy, but not stand-up funny.”
Panel guesses: Bret Michaels, Brad Paisley, Billy Ray Cyrus
Song: “Jump,” by Kriss Kross
Voice-over: “Let me tell you, I love, love, love being the Frog. On that stage, the passion for performing I’ve lost over the years has been totally reinvigorated. Plus, this getup allows me to do things I couldn’t do when I had to be all concerned about my image. I can be the same guy on stage that I am at home with my fam. I know there are some crazy talented vocalists in this competition, but I’m busting my butt to entertain you in ways they can’t. I even take a power nap before each performance, so these frog legs can give you every inch of my energy.”
What are you not? “I am actually not a trained dancer at all. Do you feel me, baby?”
Panel guesses: Sisqo, Omarion, Lil Romeo
Song: “Rise Up,” by Andra Day
Voice-over: “My time on this show has honestly felt like cloud nine. I’ve avoided putting myself front and center for years. I get scared of standing alone after facing rejection in my past. And helping others for so long has made spreading my own wings incredible. Even though I’m behind a mask, I feel I can see endless possibilities in my future. Thanks to this show, and that’s why tonight I’ve chosen a song that’s become my new mantra.”
What are you not? “I’m not just a voice, I’m a mogul.”
Panel guesses: Tamar Braxton, Brandy, Tisha Campbell
Song: “What A Man Gotta Do,” by Jonas Brothers
Voice-over: “My journey on ‘Masked Singer’ has been pushing me and forcing me to grow in places I never dreamed. Earlier in life, I tried to be what everyone wanted me to be. I became comfortable playing a role. But I learned over the years that true progress happens at the edge of your comfort zone. Airplanes aren’t built so they can stay safe in a hangar. They’re built to take to the sky. And so tonight, I’m doing my most upbeat, dancey song yet. Now, are you ready for some truth bombs? It’s funny the panel thinks I’m an athlete because of my size. Music has been my passion since I was a child. One, I’ve risen up the Billboard charts and two, you may even have an album of mine.”
What are you not? “I’m not nearly as tall as you think I am.”
Panel guesses: Vince Gill, Duff McKagan, Derek Jeter
Song: “Never Gonna Give You Up,” by Rick Astley
Voice-over: “My ‘Masked Singer’ journey couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. For years I’ve been searching for a chance to blast away labels that have been imposed on me. On my old planet, something happened that changed the course of my career. I was forced to start over. But negativity made it tough to launch again. But here, in this new world, I have an incredible support system around me. I’m free to break boundaries and explore new territories. No tether attached. I’m not a competitive guy, but boy, do I want to plant my flag in that finale.”
What are you not? “Not as much what I’m not, but I’ve never had traditional voice training.”
Panel guesses: David Archuleta, JC Chasez, Ryan Tedder