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‘The Masked Dancer’ Reveals Identity of the Cricket: Here’s the Celebrity Under the Mask – Variety

Brian McKnight had been wondering when he might get a call to appear on “The Masked Singer.” But when it came, it instead was for spinoff series “The Masked Dancer.”

“I’m sure I’m not the only quote-unquote ‘celebrity’ sitting at home watching these shows unfold, saying, ‘How come I haven’t gotten the call for this? Have people forgotten about me?’” McKnight told Variety. “So when you get the call you’re like, ‘yeah I’m gonna do the Masked Dancer!’”

McKnight was revealed to be the person under the Cricket costume on Wednesday’s edition of “The Masked Dancer.” He was unmasked after dancing to Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It.”

Although a well-known performer, known for hits such as “Back at One” and “One Last Cry,” McKnight admits he doesn’t have much dancing expertise. ” I spent all my time as a kid learning to play musical instruments,” he said. “I never thought that dancing would be a part of what I was doing, so I never focused on it… Dancing, I kind of move around on stage, I am very self-deprecating on stage. I kind of dance, but not really. To do full on dance moves with choreography was kind of a daunting task for me.”

In going on “The Masked Dancer,” McKnight said his main concern was to not appear silly. “I think that that’s a common theme with people of all ages,” he said. “Nobody wants to look stupid.”

McKnight said he took the secrecy of “The Masked Dancer” seriously, telling only his wife. “It was hard to not tell the kids, parents,” he said. “We said, ‘we’re gonna do this thing and we’ll be back and we don’t know when. Someone’s gonna watch the dog.’ So they’re all going to be very surprised tonight.”

Overall, he called the experience “off the charts. They really do a great job. Nobody on that set knows who any of the celebrities are. We’re testing for COVID every other day, making sure we’re safe. The way they do the show and the showrunning, it was really unlike anything that I’ve ever seen, after doing a bunch of TV shows in my time. Getting on stage, the production value is insane. For somebody who’s on a stage all the time to have all those bells and whistles all at once, it’s just mind boggling.”

As for what’s next, McKnight and musician Dave Koz are planning a virtual Valentine’s Day-themed concert on Feb. 13. Beyond that, with the COVID-19 pandemic still keeping concerts to a minimum, McKnight said he was enjoying taking a breather from touring.

“I will tell you that taking this break over this last year — because I’m coming up on the year anniversary of my last show that I did — has been wonderful,” he said. “I don’t think I would have ever taken a break. This is the first break I’ve probably taken in 25 years. Which isn’t to say it’d be nice to get back on stage, but it has been really good. I think my voice needed it, my body needed it and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Among the panelists, Paula Abdul got it right with McKnight, Ken Jeong named Michael Phelps, Brian Austin Green guessed Ryan Lochte, and Ashley Tisdale thought it was Ashton Kutcher. Guest panelist Rob Lowe picked Lochte as well.

McKnight had previously danced to “Jump (For My Love),” by the Pointer Sisters, and in his first episode, the panelists guessed Ryan Reynolds, Jim Carrey, Ian Ziering and Ashton Kutcher.

“The Masked Dancer” includes the feature “Word Up,” in which each contestant says a one-word clue to their identity. McKnight’s first “Word Up” was ” Accomplished ” and second “Word Up” was “All-Star.”

This season’s costumes include Zebra, Tulip, Sloth, Exotic Bird, Cotton Candy, Cricket, Disco Ball, Moth, Ice Cube and Hammerhead. Previously unmasked were Elizabeth Smart as the Moth, Bill Nye the Science Guy as the Ice Cube, and Ice-T as the Disco Ball.

The show touts a cast of 10 celebrities that have “amassed more than 38 million albums sold worldwide, 20 Emmy Award wins, 20 Grammy Award nominations, 10 World Dancing titles, five New York Times Best-Selling Author titles, four Olympic gold medals and three Broadway show appearances.”

Here were the other contestants and their performances on episode four, “Group A Playoffs — So You Think You Can Mask?”:

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Exotic Bird, “The Masked Dancer”

Courtesy of Fox

Exotic Bird

Dance: “Latch,” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith
Word Up: “Number One”
Panel guesses: Janet Jackson, Jordyn Sparks, Kate Hudson, Megan Thee Stallion
Voice-over: “Every single day I’m on stage is a good day. Last time, my confidence was overflowing. But, that wasn’t always the case. Right before the biggest opportunity of my life, I got really sick with a savage bird flu. I could barely breathe. There was only one person who could help me: My mama bird. She told me, ‘Baby, what you were born with, no one else has. That’s your gift. And right now it’s up to you if you’re going to share it with the world. This moment will define who you are for the rest of your life. With her support, I went out and served up something legendary. As my mama told me, these hips don’t lie. Tonight, my performance matches the roller coaster moment of my life. These dance steps are so hard, pushing and pulling me in different directions. But with every beat of the song I hit, I will stand more fierce on my own.”
Previous dance: “Con Calma,” by Daddy Yankee and Katy Perry feat. Snow
Previous Word Up: “Scored”
Previous panel guesses: Hope Solo, Jennifer Hudson, Venus Williams

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Hammerhead, “The Masked Dancer”
Courtesy of Fox

Hammerhead

Dance: “Blinding Lights,” by The Weeknd
Word Up: “Heartbreaker”
Panel guesses: Ryan Seacrest, Joe Rogan, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino
Voice-over: “The best part of this experience is being here on my own terms. And last time, I really wanted to show I can be the life of the party. But people already know that side of me. So this time, I want to show them so much more. I have layers. Years ago, when I first entered the public eye, I had one shot, one opportunity. I didn’t want to lose myself. But I sort of did. I gave up my dream of being a lawyer. I was depressed, like I was locked up in a cage. Eventually, I realized that in order to succeed, I had to embrace both parts of me. My fun-loving side and my disciplined side. And this performance is a combination of both. Fear is no longer a factor for me, although the dance steps are really hard. I finally found my purpose in my situation. Hammerhead, out.”
Previous dance: “Everybody,” by Backstreet Boys
Previous Word Up: “Dramatic”
Previous panel guesses: Carrot Top, Joe Jonas, Zac Efron

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Tulip, “The Masked Dancer”
Courtesy of Fox

Tulip

Dance: “Fields of Gold,” by Eva Cassidy
Word Up: “Princess”
Panel guesses: Sarah Hyland, Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, Charli D’Amelio, Simone Biles
Voice-over: “Last time you saw me I tapped, like there was no tomorrow. I felt like a rock star. The toughest part about this competition is keeping mum about it to everyone I know. Especially to my best bud. We used to be super competitive. I could see she was great at everything. I wanted everyone to see me the same way. Eventually we realized, why waste time arguing? TikTok, am I right? Now day and night she’s always there for me, through my struggles. And whenever I feel frozen in place, she’s there to hype me up. And she taught me that to connect with people, I have to be vulnerable and show emotion. Which is very different from my first performance.”
Previous dance: “Fergalicious,” by Fergie
Previous Word Up: “Triple”
Previous panel guesses: Charli D’Amelio, Ariana Grande, Heather Morris

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