Post Mortems

The Masked Singer Season 3 Finalists Break Down Their Best Performances, Explain Cryptic Clues

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Wednesday’s Masked Singer finale.

Frog’s ease and comfort on The Masked Singer‘s stage might’ve looked effortless throughout Season 3, but that’s because the man inside the costume did a whole lot more than sit around and catch flies whenever he wasn’t performing.

“My whole vibe was to stand out. I didn’t want to come on there, standing in one spot, just singing,” says rapper and CSI: Cyber alum Shad “Bow Wow” Moss, who came in third on Wednesday’s season finale. “I watched everyone’s performance. I studied them. I’m like, ‘Yo, there’s a lot of slow ballads. There’s a lot of great, great singers with strong voices. But who is gonna be the person to get it going?'”

As revealed during the finale, Moss and Summerland/All My Children grad Jesse McCartney were runners-up to the season’s champ: Night Angel, aka Real Housewives of Atlanta‘s Kandi Burruss. (Read a full recap here.) In separate interviews Wednesday, TVLine chatted with Moss and McCartney about their time on the zany singing competition.

TVLINE | Jesse, I have a friend who is one of your biggest fans from way back, and the first episode of The Masked Singer this season, she was like, “That is Jesse McCartney.” And as I was checking out her hunch on the Internet that first night, I learned she… is not alone.
MCCARTNEY | [Laughs] It seems like it’s really hard to keep it a secret from some of the fans that have been following me closely for many years — including my mother. My mom hit me up a couple episodes in. She’s like, “OK. I know your secret, and there’s no way you’re going to deny it.” [Laughs] That whole experience was just so interesting, having to keep it from everybody, including my own family. Ultimately, the hard-core fans, they knew who it was.

TVLINE | What did you say to your mom when she said, “I know it’s you”?
MCCARTNEY | I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Look, my mom has been in the industry a long time. She knows how all this works. And she’s like, “OK, I’m guessing there’s probably an NDA. I won’t bother you about it again. But I just want you to know, I’m watching, and you’re doing a very good job. ” [Laughs]

TVLINE | That’s love: “I won’t make you violate your non-disclosure agreement.”
MCCARTNEY |Exactly.

TVLINE | Bow Wow, I was shocked when you mentioned you’d never done choreography before. You moved so well. Talk to me about those first rehearsals working with a choreographer: Was there a steep learning curve?
MOSS | I remember arriving on set and vocals, and meeting everybody, and then they said “choreography” and I’m like, “OK, cool, I get to sit down and watch the dancers.” And it went from that to, “We thought for you to do it.” I’m like, “What?” [Laughs] I’m like, “This is going to be a little harder than I thought.” The whole thing with me was to meet in the middle. Anything that they designed, just find a way to make it my own. They worked really well with me and we made it to where everything was comfortable. They made me do things that I knew how to do really well, and I think that’s what’s important: To put somebody in a position to do something that they’d do great at anyway, then that person should shine. I was more interested in getting to learn everything and getting to do it because I’d never done it. That’s what made me really tap into it and learn these dance moves and go hard with it. I had fun.

TVLINE | You seemed to be the performer who was most able to tap into the energy of the crowd. Was there ever a time where you felt like that wasn’t a sure thing?
MOSS | I’m not gonna lie: There was never a time where I felt like I did not have them in the palm of my hand. I felt like I had them since Day 1. I knew. Because I know me, and I wanted my performances to represent who Bow Wow was, also the Frog, too. But I really wanted to showcase the energy. My whole vibe was a party… It’s a live audience, too. You want to feel some different type of energy in the room, and that was my whole key to me getting to the finals: Every time I go up there to be fun, have lots of energy and bring the party. That was the key to the Frog’s success, to bring the party. So there was never a doubt in my mind that I would lose the crowd or mess it up or anything. I was ready to go.

TVLINE | What do you think was your strongest performance this season?
MOSS | “Whatever It Takes” was my best one. I loved it. That was my joint. That was it. That was the one for me.
MCCARTNEY | I loved my arrangement of “Kissed By a Rose.” I loved the Seal song. It was one of my favorites to perform. In hindsight, I wish maybe I would’ve closed my whole show with that. It was one of my favorite songs growing up as a kid and actually was the first album I ever bought… I loved the Shawn Mendes song [“There’s Nothing Holding Me Back”] because it showed that I could move on stage really well and get the vocals out, which I thought gave me a leg up… and then “Fix You,” the Coldplay song, is just a nice moment.

TVLINE | Bow Wow, a lot of your clues mentioned your “tadpole.” Did your daughter, Shai, know you were the Frog?
MOSS | Yes, my daughter knew because she watched the show religiously before Dad was even on it. Aside from that, she knows my voice. She talks to me every single day. So she’s hearing this voice every day. It was a no-brainer for her. She called, and… she knew. She knew. All these videos of us dancing on Instagram that go viral, she knew. There was no hiding it. The good thing is that she doesn’t tell family business, so she did a good job at keeping everything locked. She had a chance to come to the set one day. It’s a family show, she had a chance to come visit. We showed her around. She had a great time with that. She had a chance to [see] me doing a run-through, and that meant a lot to me, too. She was all for it.

TVLINE | Jesse, You’ve been working a long time — I remember when you were on All My Children — but in one of your clue packages, you mentioned some “almost moments” where you didn’t get something you really wanted. Can you fill us in on what some of those were?
MCCARTNEY | There were a couple. The one that I really remember, it was my first experience with the politics of the film industry. I was originally slated to be in The Last Airbender, which was an M. Night Shyamalan film that had a huge budget and it was going to be my first major motion picture for a big studio. I signed the contract. I got paid, the whole thing. And like three days before, I was packing my bags for Greenland and I got a call that I had been replaced by this up-and-coming movie star, Dev Patel. I just remember being totally heartbroken by that. I was young. I was 21. And I wasn’t quite as resilient as I am now. I was definitely hurt by it, and it had nothing to do with me. That’s what I came to terms with later. It was simply politics and people making moves behind the scenes. It was way above my pay grade. Things like that. There’s several examples of that — that’s just one, I won’t bore you with all of them — but there have been moments like that I’ve had these moments that seemed like they were really big breakthroughs for me in terms of my own goals and they just kind of fell through the cracks. That’s what I was getting at in the clue package.

TVLINE | Bow Wow, I know you were touring with Omarion when the coronavirus shut everything down. What have you been doing to keep busy these days?
The tour was stopped, and to this day — there’s nothing I could do about it — but there was a moment where I was like, “Damn, man, this year was supposed to be one of those years for me.” And it’s going to happen. Fast and the Furious 9 was going to come out in April; it’s pushed back until next year… I just want to let people know: We’re definitely still doing the Millenium tour. It’s going out. It already went out, so we can’t just stop it. [Laughs] We only got six or seven shows, and we have 30-something more to go. Tickets have been bought. These arenas are sold-out. People want to see it. When business gets back up and booming, we’ll be back. I’ve been working on some projects. I’ve been working on an album, and also me and Omarion have been shooting things back and forth to each other via Zoom and emails and trying to finish up on some music. Because we know that our fans really wanted to see us, and if they can’t get a chance to see us this year, we at least want to bless them with some new material. And it could work in our favor. We put out these records and we go full throttle with it, and the fans know that we have to finish this tour. It just makes the tour even bigger. Things could probably change for the better. So we’re just sitting here patient. A lot of eating. [Laughs]