'The Masked Singer's Snow Owls on Being the Show's First Duo & That (Very Hot) Costume
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 7 of The Masked Singer, "The Group A Finals – The Masked Frontier."]
The Masked Singer sent one act home and said goodbye to two talented singers in the Group A Finals.
The series' first duo, the Snow Owls, made a bid to be part of the Super Six in a Smackdown against Popcorn's "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" — Sun was put through — but their "Because You Loved Me" wasn't enough, and they were eliminated.
That meant it was time to find out who was in the egg and under the masks: country singers and spouses Clint Black and Lisa Hartman Black. (Steve Wariner, "a legend in our business and a close friend," Clint says, was the person in their clues package in the episode.)
Here, the Snow Owls take us inside their journey on the Fox hit.
How did you two doing The Masked Singer come about? Did they approach you as a duo from the beginning?
Clint Black: It came to us as a duo, and we laughed and laughed and laughed and then we thought, "Maybe we want to do this." And it was really about five minutes of laughing, I think, because we knew we were going to think about doing it and that just tickled us and then it was, "Let's do this," and then it was, "Oh my God, what are we doing?" [Laughs] The picking of the songs, the costume, we had no idea really what it was going to be like, but we knew the show and knew it would be fun and positive. And we were just sitting around — it was during the lockdown — so we thought, "This is not just fun to do, but something to do to get out and perform and work."
Lisa Hartman Black: It was the first time they had done a duo, so that made it more interesting as opposed to just being solo, so it was exciting. We just dug right in and started going through a bunch of songs and next thing we knew, we were on a plane headed out there and it was a blast.
Were the costume and design already decided?
Lisa: No, Marina [Toybina], who is the brilliant costume designer, sent us — I think there was one sketch and we all went, "Yeah, that's great, but what about this or that?" and then she sent the Snow Owls and the Fabergé egg and we were just like, "We're in, let's do this." The sketch is so beautiful, we still have it, but being in the egg was the challenge, and we had no idea. But we did it. We didn't fall off the stage or anything.
Clint: That was success for us, just not falling off the stage. [Both laugh] We had a low bar.
We see the full costumes in tonight's episode after you step out of the egg. They're gorgeous.
Lisa: Yes. They were amazing. Our first fitting, I actually cried. They brought us in, we're covered head to toe because nobody can see anything and we get in and we take all of this stuff off. Then we got into the egg and we were playing around with that, the handbrakes and trying to maneuver it, make it do what we wanted or needed it to do, and then they walked in with the costumes. And I just started crying and then I started laughing because they were so beautiful. They were just magnificent, these Snow Owls, and next thing you knew, we were in them and couldn't breathe, and I didn't love them so much.
And you had to stay on the stage in them listening to the panelists' guesses, and I loved the laughter about Ken Jeong's guess. Then you almost completely stumped them but Nicole Scherzinger did figure it out in the end.
Clint: In my mind, I was thinking poker face, and I'm thinking, well, that Owl mask was a poker face, you really couldn't tell what I was thinking. But every little gesture, every little move, every little look, they can read something into it, so I was thinking always about what our reaction was to their guesses.
And then also not drowning. It was so hot in there and they would go through the guesses, then when Ken would take off on one of his journeys, we're just going, "OK, alright, swimming pool in here now. Come on, Ken. Let's put Ken in a suit, let's put him in a costume and see how long he wants to talk." I'm wishing that I could be making jokes at Ken while he's doing his guesses. I think I got one in there.
Lisa: You got a couple.
Clint: He's so much fun to poke fun at. That's part of what was going on in my head.
Lisa: It's funny, I'm listening to Clint, and it's taking me back to them going on and on, and I'm thinking, "Just shift your right leg, shift your weight. How long is this going to go on?" Then you do, you think they're seeing your face, but they're not, and you don't ever get used to that. I didn't. I'm like, "They can't see me, they're looking at a mask." It's the most unusual experience as a performer, maybe other than Cats. It's just really bizarre fun, it really is. And you really don't ever get used to how abnormal it is. It's part of the fun, I think.
You spoke earlier about choosing the songs you performed. What went into those decisions?
Clint: Hours and hours.
Lisa: Yeah, and we had a deadline. They had to be edited down and, "Is the key right for you? No? Move on." "I like this one. Please, can you make it work?" And vice versa. So we were just editing and editing, constantly, and then we finally found what we both feel like, the songs that we ended up with — going through this whole process, you sort of feel like, "Oh my gosh, are we ever going to get there?" and then you do, and it's perfect. We felt like, especially tonight's performance, we love, love, love that song, and love the other two as well. But when you think about all, Clint, that we went through to land where we did...
Clint: It was a serious exercise in patience and compromise while we each got happy. I've co-written songs with people and you have to both be happy with a line or a melody, and it's hours and hours and hours of sitting there working to make two people happy, and this was the same thing.
We both had to feel like it was a good key for us, a good message for the two of us to be singing, that it was competitive, and that it could be cut down into an arrangement that worked and was still dynamic because you have to cut a lot out of a song to make it fit in the show. And just when we think we're there with something, we would lose enthusiasm about it, one or the other, and then we're trying to talk each other back into it, so it was a real job just getting to where we were both happy with every element, every bit of criteria.
Lisa: I think for a duo, if they do that going forward, they should call us because we can give them some good tips. When you're a solo artist, you go, "I'm doing this song, love it, done," but it's a whole different experience with two people.
Clint: It was three actually because you know the producers, the network, they had a say in it as well, and really four – the original composer had to approve of their song being used on the show. There was a lot that went into a song making it onto the list and staying there.
Lisa: That was probably the most laborious part of it.
What are you going to take away from the overall experience of doing this together and what are you hoping The Masked Singer takes from you being the first duo?
Lisa: I would hope it inspires more of it. It adds an interest to the show. That's how I feel, and I think the takeaway was, it's hard to describe. It's crazy fun, so challenging in so many ways, we could go on and on.
Clint: My advice to anyone doing this would be choose your costume and your mask based on ventilation.
Lisa: And mine would be drink a lot of water.
Clint: You don't want the suit that's all fur.
Lisa: [Laughs] Like they put Mickey Rourke in [for Gremlin].
Clint: It really is hot in there and when we were watching Mickey, he was like, "I'm out, I'm out of this thing." I said, "He's too hot, he's had enough."
The Masked Singer, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox