Spoiler alert: This story contains the identity of the winner of season 9, revealed on Wednesday night’s (May 17) episode of The Masked Singer.
It was a star-studded season, which featured iconic actors Dick Van Dyke, Malin Akerman, George Wendt and Lou Diamond Phillips; impressive singers like Sara Evans, Debbie Gibson, Michael Bolton, Dee Snider and Pentatonix; and every type of celebrity in between. It all led up to The Masked Singer‘s final battle of season 9 on Wednesday night, in which two of the season’s favorites, Macaw and Medusa, went head-to-snake-filled-head.
Throughout the season, Medusa wowed judges with mystical, powerful renditions of Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever,” Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Shawn Mendes’ “Mercy,” My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” and more. However, it almost came tumbling down during New York Night, when Medusa and California Roll competed in the Battle Royale, singing “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel. The panel of judges chose California Roll to go on to the next round, but used their first-ever save on Medusa when judge Nicole Scherzinger rang the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell.
Before getting crowned the winner of The Masked Singer on Wednesday night, the judges were perplexed when it came to her identity. Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg initially thought she might be Ellie Goulding or Halsey, while Ken Jeong thought Medusa might be the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, and Robin Thicke guessed Kesha. Scherzinger predicted Tove Lo or Lorde, before accurately guessing the woman behind the myth: British-American singer-songwriter, Bishop Briggs.
The star — known for her passionate vocals in hits like “River” — spoke to Billboard before Wednesday night’s finale, sharing her emotion-filled journey to the crown, the inspiration behind her upcoming EP When Everything Went Dark and how Medusa helped turn her weaknesses to stone.
Congratulations on your big win! How does it feel?
Thank you! It is the coolest thing ever. I can’t believe that I can even share that this is happening.
Did anyone in your personal life suspect that Medusa was you?
I definitely got a lot of text messages and I tried my best to keep it a secret. I just can’t wait to text them all back tonight and tell them they were right.
You had the judges pretty stumped throughout the season. Was it exciting to be the secret but incredible talent on the show?
I wasn’t super surprised that I didn’t get guessed just because I’m still an up-and-coming artist. I will say though, when Nicole eventually guessed me, all of a sudden you feel very exposed [laughs]. I felt very aware of my body and mannerisms. It was nice to fly under the radar, though.
On the other hand, you got compared to some amazing artists. The judges thought you might be Ellie Goulding, Halsey or Kesha. How did that feel?
Never forget, they also said Lorde at one point. I’m definitely holding on to those and never forgetting that it’s the coolest thing ever.
Nicole Scherzinger also saved you earlier in the season. Do you know her personally and how did it feel to be championed by her throughout the show?
I do not know her personally, but I am obviously obsessed with her. Coming into the show, she was vocalist that I really, really admire and I feel like she’s really underrated for what an incredible vocal talent she has. I mean, she sings like Whitney Houston. So the fact that she had any response to my voice, it meant so much to me. And with the bell, that moment, I cannot even explain how everything turned into slow motion. They were all yelling ‘Take it off!’ I really thought that I was going to be going home. You really learn in those moments how much you want to be there.
We have to talk about your amazing costume. Why Medusa?
I feel that she is someone who was really misunderstood and I was balancing a lot when I was on the show. I was six months postpartum. I was a new mom and I was pumping in between performing. I feel like the idea that women can be so many different things all at once really is Medusa to me. To be able to use Medusa strength when I really needed it, meant so much.
Balancing your postpartum journey with this show sounds tough.
I barely balanced it at all. I was writing notes to my son even if I was away only for a few hours and I was bombarding him and my husband with FaceTime. There is no such thing as balance, but we can find that space where we get to do what we love, and also be present as a parent. I think finding those moments means everything and it’s not talked about enough. I’m still on the journey of postpartum and it’s crazy how much your mind and body completely evolves and changes.
With the physical struggles of postpartum and choosing such difficult songs to perform, how did you manage it all while in a costume?
I love performing so much, and my favorite thing about performing is really losing myself in whatever song I’m singing. I feel like I got to use the fact that I really lean into the emotion of every song to my advantage. I also feel like the snakes were good luck charms and they whispered to me. The company kept me warm at night, so I think there was a side of it where I wasn’t alone on stage.
It’s an exciting year for you. You released a new single, “Baggage,” and your EP, When Everything Went Dark, is out June 23. What’s the story behind your new music?
It’s about these past few years, the past, present and future. I lost my sister really unexpectedly. The journey of grief is an ever evolving one and, with that and becoming a mom, I felt like exploring the topics of love, loss, grief and, hopefully, by the end of it, feeling empowered to keep going. That really is the main thing that I really am trying to work on, not only as an artist and through the EP but as a human being. Then I have a tour coming up, that I’ll be bringing the baby on, of course. I’m really excited to be able to perform the songs.
Is it strange to have grief co-exist with the joy of bringing a new life into the world?
Yes, and it’s so hard. You can’t help but feel like perhaps the new life was a gift left behind from that loved one. The amount of times that you hear about these things happening in such close proximity, I always wonder that because my son is someone that really helped me continue. Even when I was pregnant, I made sure to work on my mental health just to make sure that I was going to be a grounded mom that could talk about what has happened.
What do you hope viewers take away from your Masked Singer journey?
Everything we’re talking about, which is you can be multiple things all at once. Don’t be afraid to lean into those different sides of your personality and your spirit, and I hope that people feel empowered to do so.