“The Masked Dancer” staged an “American Idol” reunion on Wednesday night, as “Idol” Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks was the next celebrity to be revealed on the show. And correctly guessing her? Former “Idol” judge and current “Masked Dancer” panelist Paula Abdul.
Sparks was revealed to be the person under the Exotic Bird costume on Wednesday’s edition of the hit series. Here’s what might have given it away: She was unmasked after dancing to Abdul’s “Opposites Attract.”
“When they told me that [Abdul] was judging, the first thing that popped into my head was I can’t believe that all this time later I’m now going to be on another competition show stage with her sitting at the judging panel,” Sparks told Variety. “That blew my mind. And I was like, she’s gonna know. When she guessed me, I was floored but I was actually very happy that it was her guessing. It was a really cool moment.”
Sparks noted that during Season 4 of “The Masked Singer,” many fans thought the Seahorse was her (ultimately, it turned out to be Tori Kelly). “I can’t tell you how many times my friends thought I was the Seahorse,” Sparks said. “Every week, I was bombarded with texts like ‘we know that it’s you.’ And because I love the show I didn’t tell them, I never confirmed or denied it. And it was interesting, because Tori Kelly is one of our good friends, too. So we had a good laugh.”
When “The Masked Dancer” opportunity came up, Sparks said she hesitated since she’s not known for dance.
“It’s not my bread and butter,” she said. “Give me a microphone and I’m good to go. But with dancing, it was a little bit nerve racking. Everybody was encouraging me to do it and then I realized that I was the person telling me that I couldn’t. And so, I wanted to do the show and I said yes because I want to do this and prove to myself that I can take on challenges and take on things, even if they scare me a little bit.”
Sparks said she also was inspired by her son, who’s about to turn 3, to do it: “I wanted to show him that I can do things even if they scare me. He was very instrumental in inspiring me to go, and my husband as well.”
She also saw “Masked Dancer” as an opportunity to perform again, after having spent most of the year at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was so nice to be able to get out of the four walls of my house and just see a different space,” she said. “And it was really nice to be around people to be honest, like, even though we couldn’t talk. It was nice to be around the buzz and the hubbub of being in a workspace again.”
Beyond her son and husband, Sparks kept her “Masked Dancer” stint a secret. “I’ve been waiting so long to talk about this. I didn’t really tell anybody else so I’m excited because tonight I’m sure I’m going to get a barrage of texts from my family because I didn’t even tell them that I was doing it.”
Sparks hopes to take advantage of the “Masked Dancer” exposure to promote her new single, “You Still Think of Me,” which she wrote with Lisa Goe, Savvy Giersch and Marc David Schneider.
“It’s the first of many songs that are going to be coming out this year,” Sparks said.
Among the panelists, while Abdul figured out that it was Sparks, Ashley Tisdale joined her in guessing Sparks as well. Ken Jeong thought it was another “Idol” contestant, Jennifer Hudson; Brian Austin Green guessed model Ashley Graham; and guest panelist Mayim Bialik thought it was Eve.
Sparks had previously danced to “Rush,” by Lewis Capaldi feat. Jessie Reyez, “Con Calma,” by Daddy Yankee and Katy Perry feat. Snow; and “Latch,” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith. The panelists’ previous guesses included Kat Von D, Dita Von Teese, Ashley Graham, Kate Upton, Hope Solo, Jennifer Hudson, Venus Williams, Janet JacksonKate Hudson, Megan Thee Stallion and Sparks herself.
“The Masked Dancer” includes the feature “Word Up,” in which each contestant says a one-word clue to their identity. Sparks’ first “Word Up” was “”Scored” and second “Word Up” was ” Number One.” On Wednesday, her latest “Word Up” was “Circus.”
This season’s costumes include Zebra, Tulip, Sloth, Exotic Bird, Cotton Candy, Cricket, Disco Ball, Moth, Ice Cube and Hammerhead. Previously unmasked were Vinny Guadagnino as the Hammerhead, Brian McKnight as the Cricket, 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 six, “Top Five — Mask the Night Away!”:
Dance: “My Boyfriend’s Back,” by The Chiffons
Word Up: “Lifetime Achievements”
Bonus clue: “I’m no stranger to the stage, I’ve been performing my whole life.”
Panel guesses: Liza Koshy, Haylie Duff, Jamie Lyn Spears
Previous dances: “Fergalicious,” by Fergie; “Fields of Gold,” by Eva Cassidy; “Thank U, Next,” by Ariana Grande
Previous Word Ups: “Triple”; “Princess”
Previous panel guesses: Charli D’Amelio, Ariana Grande, Heather Morris, Sarah Hyland, Hayden Panettiere, Kristen Bell, Charli D’Amelio, Simone Biles, Julianne Hough
Dance: “Take You Dancing,” by Jason Derulo
Bonus clue: “He has two countries rooting for him.”
Word Up: “Author”
Panel guesses: Oscar de la Hoya, Conor McGregor, Barry Bonds
Previous dances: “Magalehna,” by Sergio Mendes; “All My Life,” by K-Ci and Jojo; “Mi Gente,” by J Balvin and Willy William
Previous Word Ups: “Comeback”; “Champion”
Previous panel guesses: Ricky Martin, Kevin Richardson, Pitbull, Floyd Mayweather, Mario Lopez, Tito Ortiz, Tony Robbins, LL Cool J, Oscar de la Hoya.
Dance: “Twist Remix,” by Neeraj Shridhar
Bonus clue: “I’m all drama.”
Word Up: “Rose”
Panel guesses: Harry Shum Jr., Hugh Jackman, Jack Black
Previous dances: “What I Like About You,” by the Romantics; “Up Where We Belong,” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes; “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” by Dean Martin
Previous Word Ups: “Broadway”; “Leading man”
Previous panel guesses: Matthew Morrison, Kevin Federline, Jason Derulo, Jonathan Groff, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Ferrell, Bradley Cooper, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen
Dance: “Swan Lake Opus 20, Act 1 Finale,” by Tchaikovsky
Bonus clue: “You have seen me perform for many years, and hopefully many more to come.”
Word Up: “Prayer”
Panel guesses: Julianne Hough, Kristi Yamaguchi, Simone Biles, Hayden Panettiere
Previous dances: “Glitter in the Air,” by Pink; “Sour Candy,” by Lady Gaga feat. Blackpink; “Great Balls of Fire,” by Jerry Lee Lewis
Previous Word Ups: “Primetime”; “Team Player”
Previous panel guesses: Jenna Dewan, Pink, Julianne Hough, Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi, Gabby Butler, Simone Biles