‘The Masked Singer’ season 9 episode 1 recap: Which 2 famous faces unmasked in ‘Season 9 Premiere’? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

TV’s favorite guessing game returns with all-new singers, all-new themed episodes and the “Champion of the Masked Singer” style competition. Every episode features sudden elimination and double unmaskings, but there is a new twist entering the competition this season: for the first time ever, panelists will have the opportunity to save a singer from looming elimination with the “Ding Dong Keep it On” Bell.

Who will be revealed and who will reign supreme? Play along with host Nick Cannon and celebrity panelists Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke. Three celebrities will perform in the all-new “Season 9 Premiere” episode of “The Masked Singer.”

Below, read our minute-by-minute “The Masked Singer” recap of Season 9, Episode 1, to find out what happened Wednesday, February 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on FOX. Then be sure to sound off in the comments section about your favorite costumed characters on Fox’s reality TV show and who you think has what it takes to win the entire competition.

Keep refreshing/reloading this “The Masked Singer” live blog for the most recent updates.

8:00 p.m. — “Previously on ‘The Masked Singer’!” In the Season 8 finale, Harp won the Golden Mask trophy and removed her mask to reveal singer and actress Amber Riley. Lambs (music trio Wilson Phillips) were the runners-up. But enough about last season — let’s get started with the first performance of Season 9!

8:05 p.m. — Nick welcomes the audience and panelists to this exciting season premiere. He then quickly introduces the first singer with a “cult following,” the Mustang! It’s a sexy black horse with plenty of swag. Let’s dive into the clues! She states, “From the outside my life may look like a shiny carnival. I’ve sold out arenas, I’ve won awards and even collaborated with Elvis. But, this ride has come with its fair share of pain. I’ve almost died more times than I can count, but I’m a survivor. I’m hell on heels. Every time I’m counted out I come back stronger than before with my herd by my side. So tonight, I’m reigning in all my horse power as the sexy, mighty, Mustang. And, after facing death, how scary can singing here be?” Visual clues included Mustang walking through a carnival with an emphasis on the Ring Toss, a bucket of soap, dumbbells, volcanoes and a bird in a nest with three eggs.

8:10 p.m. — Mustang is singing “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake. Nicole quickly comments on the performer’s “beautiful voice,” but she sounds a little nervous to me. I’m not she’s a professional singer, but she has some pipes. What a start to the season! Jenny calls it “effortless” and says she’s “a true star.” For an additional clue, the men in black bring out a swag bag containing a magazine cover of Most Beautiful People. Mustang says, “I truly believe that beauty comes from the inside, but this time it’s on the cover. The panel gives a few guesses: Pink (Ken), Suzanne Somers (Robin) and Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders (Nicole).

8:15 p.m. — The singer to take the stage is the Gnome. He’s a big boy! In the clue package he reveals, “Just like a wise, magical gnome, observing the forest around him, I’ve become a mainstay in your lives over the course of my storied career. Just ask the producers! I really have done it all. I’ve joked with the cleverest comedians from Robin Williams to Ben Stiller. I’ve performed with the biggest names in music from Lin-Manuel Miranda to Madonna! And my address book includes all the president’s men, from Barack to Biden. But there’s always more to do, especially when you’re working for the fun of it. Because being a true entertainer isn’t about money or awards – it’s about going to bed every night having put a smile on someone’s face and being proud of what you’ve done.” Visual clues included a butterfly, a little red bird, an umbrella, bundt cakes, a trophy with Tony Danza‘s face on it and a stethoscope.

8:20 p.m. — Gnome is singing “When You’re Smiling” by Billie Holiday. He’s got a fantastic, crooning delivery and Robin says, “I recognize that voice.” His gravely tone and lack of movement lead me to think he’s an older performer. Nicole says she is “captivated” and his voice “melted my heart.” Jenny thinks this could be the biggest celebrity legend they’ve ever had on “The Masked Singer.” The extra clue is a Kennedy Center Honors medal. Gnome says, “I met President Biden and said, ‘I used to be as tall as you,’ and he said, ‘I used to have hair like you.'” The panelists guess Gnome could be: Dustin Hoffman (Nicole, Robin) or Robert De Niro (Ken).

8:25 p.m. — The last performer of the night is Medusa. “She’s got a great body,” Nicole chimes in as the snake-headed creature emerges. In her clue package she reveals, “I grew up far from the spotlight, a dancer in the dark, and I never quite fit in. I mean, look at me. But fitting in was never something I really worried about because I knew early on I was born to stand out. So, I did my own thing and ignored anyone who wanted me to conform. Embracing my oddities, snakes and all, has taken me far. From the Super Bowl to this very stage. That’s right, technically I’ve been here before. But this time I’m here to compete and ‘Masked Singer’ feels like the perfect stage for me. Because honestly, look around, it doesn’t get much weirder than this.” Visual clues include giant chess pieces, references to Greece, a tattoo of a heart on fire that says “True Love,” a photo of Buckingham Palace, asteroids, the planet Saturn and the sun.

8:30 p.m. — Medusa is singing “Happier Than Ever” by Billie Eilish. She definitely sounds like a professional singer. Robin quickly says, “Whoa!” Her soft, whispery tone soon erupts into beast-like rocker screams. Yes! It’s easily the performance of the night. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this speechless in nine seasons,” says Nicole. For an additional clue, the men in black bring out a DVD case that says “340 million sold! — Medusa: Snakes on the Astral Plane.” “Sometimes success comes in the grayest of places,” Medusa says. Guesses for Medusa are Ellie Goulding (Jenny), Meghan Markle (Ken) and Lorde (Nicole).

8:35 p.m. — Nick explains the “Ding Dong Keep it On” Bell. If anyone is voted out, the panelists can save them by ringing the bell, but they can only save one singer from each round of competition. The three saved performers will then battle it out on a special episode of “The Masked Singer” later this season.

8:45 p.m. — The studio audience has voted and the results are in. The first singer to get unmasked is the Gnome. Before Gnome takes it off, the panel will reveal their final guesses: Robert De Niro (Ken), Tony Bennett (Jenny) and Dustin Hoffman (Robin and Nicole). At last, the Gnome reveals himself to be the legendary Tony, Grammy and Emmy Award winner Dick Van Dyke! Nicole bursts into tears while Nick says, “This is the most seasoned and decorated entertainer we have had on our show.”

8:55 p.m. — The time has now come for the Battle Royale. Mustang and Medusa will each put their own unique spin on “Diamonds” by Rihanna. Mustang sounds good, but Medusa is in her own league and wins this battle. It’s time to unmask the Mustang!

9:01 p.m. — Before Mustang takes off the mask the panelists submit their final guesses: Pink (Ken), Joan Jett (Jenny), Suzanne Somers (Robin) and Wynonna Judd (Nicole). The Mustang finally rips off her mask and reveals herself to be country superstar and multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans! That’s a wrap for this season premiere. Next week Medusa will face off against two new challengers in “ABBA Night.”

Be sure to make your predictions to influence our reality TV racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs on Fox. You’ll compete to win eternal bragging rights and a spot on our “The Masked Singer” Season 5 leaderboard. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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