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Spoilers ahead for the February 26 episode of The Masked Singer on Fox.
Another episode of The Masked Singer Season 3 has seen another member of Group B eliminated, and the unmasked celebrity was pretty shocking. The fact that the Mouse mask concealed none other than Dionne Warwick wasn't the surprise, as Robin Thicke guessed she was behind the mask last week and the rest of the judges (including guest Gabriel Iglesias) aside from Ken Jeong agreed after her rendition of Natalie Cole's "This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)" this week. The surprise was that the six-time Grammy winner was unmasked so early in Group B, which leads me to wonder: does the voting system need to change on The Masked Singer?
Other judge guesses of the episode included Ed Helms, Alfonso Ribeiro, Ted Danson, and Millie Bobby Brown as some of the most likely. Most of the guesses of the night were of celebrities with at least some singing experience, but none on Dionne Warwick's level. Was Warwick the best or most active dancer of the night? Not quite, since the Frog can clearly dance circles around everybody else and even busted out "The Carlton" when the judges started naming Ribeiro as a possible man behind the mask. But this show is The Masked Singer, not The Masked Dancer. So how did this happen?
Voting on The Masked Singer is straightforward: the audience votes on their favorite at the end of the night, and the singer with the least number of votes removes their mask, sings one last encore, and heads home. Still, there are variables to The Masked Singer that may mean the current voting system is unfair, because talent is clearly not the deciding factor in who stays and who goes. Or maybe I'm just upset that DIONNE WARWICK has already been cut. Either way, it's worth considering. Read on for some reasons!
Considering the audience votes shortly after watching the final masked singer of the day, the order of the performances may make a big difference. Dionne Warwick was second of the night, following Banana with the energetic rendition of Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" and before Frog danced his way through 50 Cent's "In Da Club," Taco channeled his inner King of Rock and Roll with Elvis Presley's "Bossa Nova Baby," and Kitty delivered her best Brett Young's "Mercy."
Dionne Warwick didn't engage the audience as much as Banana, and Warwick came before the audience had seen three other performers. Was she eliminated from The Masked Singer because the audience thought she was the worst, or because the spectacle faded after the dazzle of the subsequent three performances? If Warwick had gone last, would Banana, Frog, Taco (who is not that popular guess), or Kitty have been unmasked instead of the Grammy-winner?
It's also worth noting that the audience watching the Masked Singer performances when they're being recorded for broadcast make up a relatively small sample size. Admittedly, I don't know the precise number of people who get seats during Masked Singer tapings, but the show scores huge ratings for Fox.
Viewers who watch from home and weigh in via social media vastly outnumber the people watching in person, and people watching from home can probably watch with a little more objectivity. At the very least, there are commercial breaks between performances! Viewers don't always agree with the audience eliminations, and plenty would surely appreciate being able to vote themselves.
Additionally, there is the question of whether votes are being cast due to singing talent or due to entertainment factor or just who audiences don't want to see lose. Does the number of backup dancers make a difference? Or the type or choreography? Or even the lighting and presentation of the performances? The Masked Singer is visual just about as much as musical, and not all the celebrities are given the same advantages.
To me, the voting is far from perfect. That said, I can admit that there's not an easy fix here. The performers have to go in some order, so somebody was going to have to go second in the lineup in the February 26 episode, and somebody was going to get to go last. The Masked Singer also doesn't air live, so viewers from home can't weigh in and vote the way they can for shows like Dancing with the Stars. And not all celebrity performers can pull off the same kind of audience engagement and choreography.
Short of The Masked Singer switching to live broadcasts, there's not a simple fix. And maybe time will soothe the sting of losing Dionne Warwick so soon after another music legend was prematurely cut. See what happens next with new episodes of The Masked Singer airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. Be sure to vote in our poll below about whether or not changes need to be made, and don't forget to share your suggestions for The Masked Singer voting changes in the comments.