[Spoiler alert: This story contains the identities of the the top three finishers on Wednesday night’s (May 20) The Masked Singer finale.]
If you’re a performer and you don’t take advantage of finishing in the top three on The Masked Singer with some new music, then you’re doing it wrong. That’s why tonight’s (May 2) finale was accompanied by new songs from the top two and the promise of fresh tracks from the third-place finisher. Billboard caught up with all three before the big reveal to find out what new tunes they’re unmasking for fans.
First out of the box on Wednesday morning was second place finisher Turtle, aka Jesse McCartney, who is celebrating the kick-off of summer with the sunshiny, bouncy bop “Friends.” Written by McCartney, Scott Effman & Riley Biederer and produced by Twice as Nice, the song is a nod to our chosen families, the ones we hang with and go to bars. Well, the ones we’ll do that with again soon, anyway.
“When I wrote the song I had no idea we would be facing a worldwide pandemic, but now it seems like it’s making people nostalgic,” says McCartney, 33. “When I’m looking at the reactions online, people are like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t wait to go out to a bar or go to the beach with my friends!’ It’s making people miss their friends, so it’s actually a perfect time.”
McCartney felt like it was a good pick-me-up for homebound fans at this time, a morale booster with a different vibe than the typical romantic pop ditty. “You rarely in pop hear songs about hanging out with your best friends,” he says. “You hear about romantic relationships and heartbreak and love, but this seemed like a fun twist about being romantic about your friends and how much you need them in your life. I think it comes at a perfect time.”
He promises that it will join his other recent single, “Yours,” on the follow-up to 2014’s In Technicolor, which is slated for release sometime later this year.
Listen to “Friends” below.
The Night Angel
Season three winner Night Angel, aka Real Housewives of Atlanta star and Grammy-winning songwriter and singer Kandi Burruss, 44, wowed audiences and judges during her impressive run on the show. She tells Billboard that the W gave her the renewed confidence she needed to reboot her solo singing career after a reunion with longtime girl group Xscape in 2017.
She celebrated her revival with the bouncy club track “Used to Love Me” featuring Todrick Hall and Precious, which dropped on Wednesday night. “It’s a feel-good song to make people dance, have a good time. I wanted to do something totally different from what than what I’ve done in the past and what people would expect of me, so that’s why I chose it,” she says.
“It’s a song that immediately when you play it the beat makes you want to dance. It’s super catchy… I just wanted a song that everybody can dance to.” And while Burruss says the song is perfect for club remixes, because of the slowly lifting COVID0-19 lockdown, those will have to wait until we can all dance together again.
“Unfortunately, we can’t go to the club right now, but we can still dance [at home],” she says. Hall landed on the track because he and Burruss are friends and she admires him as a songwriter and loves his similarly upbeat single “Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels.” She thought he’d be a great fit, along with Precious, a ballroom scene stalwart who she tapped to chant over the track. And this is just the beginning.
“I definitely plan on dropping more music in the future, hopefully an EP or an album in the coming months,” says Burruss. “For now I just wanted to drop a single and let people get used to the idea of me releasing music again.”
Listen to “Used to Love Me” below.
Third place finisher Frog, rapper/actor Bow Wow, 33, doesn’t have anything on tap right now, but there is definitely music on the horizon. He and touring partner and friend Omarion recently tweeted out a tease for the sequel to their 2007 joint album, Face Off. “Me and O been in the studio working with Jermaine Dupri, we’ve been working non-stop,” he says. “I finished [an] album as soon as we got off tour, which was postponed because of what we’re going through right now.”
Bow Wow says he finished his latest solo album within three weeks of getting home from the interrupted tour and then Omarion called him ready to get in the lab together after they started cooking up new tracks on the interrupted outing. “I definitely have a major announcement to make tomorrow [May 21] about everything I have coming,” he says, promising two albums and two unnamed movies in the near future.
“When we click it just connects and that combination is a good one-two punch, it just works,” he adds of his unique chemistry with Omarion. “And when we tweeted it out it was kind of the bait to see if that’s what they wanted. And I could have guessed that’s what they wanted because of the capacity of people that were showing up to come out to see us. Our music from that era is so important and we want to give them something. If they can’t come see us this year because of corona then we want to give them something they can hear. We’re gonna give them some real good stuff.”