‘The Masked Singer’s Broccoli on Trying to Disguise His Voice
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 9 of The Masked Singer, “The Group C Finals — The Masks Give Thanks.”]
A masked contestant was taken off the menu after the special Thanksgiving episode on Thursday, November 26.
Heading into the Group C Finals, Jellyfish, Mushroom, and Broccoli were still in the running and hoping to advance to the Super Six of The Masked Singer Season 4. While Jellyfish advanced, the other two faced off in the Smackdown, and it was Broccoli who was eliminated and unmasked as singer, songwriter, and actor Paul Anka.
Here, Anka discusses why he joined the Fox hit for this season, his song choices, and more.
How did you doing this season come about? Did you get a call, “The Masked Singer wants you to come on as the Broccoli”?
Paul Anka: Not quite. I did get a call and being fans of the show — I have many grandchildren, a 14-year-old son, so they’ve watched it and they’re fans of the show — and when the call did come, I thought about it. Keep in mind, I’ve been making an album for the last nine months, and so I’ve been locked away and I wanted to get out and have some fun. I said, “Well, this’ll be a chance to do it,” trusting everything was secured, and then when I did have a chat on the phone with a few of the people from the show and realized what it was about and then the choice of the costume, they were down to two. I eat broccoli a lot — I’m a health nut — so I said, “Yeah, let’s do Broccoli.”
And speaking of that costume, did you have any input on the design?
No, I saw a design of it, and it looked like it would be fun, keeping in mind until you put it on and get active, it’s a whole different thing.
Speaking of getting active, can you talk about performing in that costume? Because singing on a stage as a Broccoli isn’t something you could’ve imagined you’d ever do, right?
No, if you’d told me a few years go I’d be Broccoli and singing, I would’ve said you’re crazy. [Laughs] But on that topic, the costumes are amazing. I think most people that are fans of the show and others, you just get impressed by the costumes. So once I got into it and realized what we’re dealing with in terms of fabric and what was indigenous to what the show is about and keeping it on very secure, it was a whole other thing. It was warm. It was challenging in that with a lot of the face coverings and your hands and et cetera, you couldn’t really see floor markings where you’re supposed to go.
You’re limited in terms of sound situation. I’d never worn in-ears ever. I’m a kind of one-on-one guy and I like to relate to my audience and feel and hear them, et cetera, but once I got them on, I realized I wouldn’t have that comfort zone I’m used to for many years. It was kind of challenging just to adapt to it. And the whole experience was a fun one, and of course it was under very high security and with COVID-19 around, it was compounded with all of that. It was living in that suit. I wouldn’t say it was unbearable at all, it was just adapting to it.
How’d you decide which songs to sing? Did you make any adjustments to adapt to performing in the costume?
My whole approach to it was understanding who might know my voice. I had some trepidation about Robin Thicke because I knew his father and him, so the choice really in my mind was to keep the energy up, and I picked songs that were normally you wouldn’t hear me sing. Then there was the ballad choice, which was the Lionel Richie song [“Hello”]. That’s pretty much what I wanted to do is keep energy and disguise my voice in any way I could. But the energy was the key word.
And then there was the Smackdown against Mushroom. What was your approach?
Again, an Alabama song [“Take Me Down”], energy, one that I felt they wouldn’t expect me to sing, and we just went straight ahead with that.
You mentioned Robin Thicke earlier, and he did guess it was you. What did you think of listening to the panelists all season?
There’s a lot of humor there involved. I don’t know who really knows from the onset. Maybe a couple in certain instances could really guess it, but otherwise the panel has certain cues. You can see who would kick in at a certain point and get it. I still felt my voice was kind of recognizable to some, maybe one or two of them, but it was funny really watching their interplay with each other. I think it’s all very sincere and colorful because from the onset, you could kind of lose it, not really guess who it is, unless there’s some kind of a vocal tone that comes into play.
How many people knew you were doing this and how many who didn’t guessed it was you?
I was not supposed to talk to a lot of people. I was having fun waiting for the phone call, “Is it you? Is it you?” The only ones who knew were my son, who’s a fan of the show, just people in my household, my girlfriend. My assistant, who’s my point person in all of the activity involved and appointments. It was a limited group frankly because I wanted to see if I’d start getting calls as soon as the program started, which I did. I can’t say there were a lot of them, but there were a couple that would guess and question me. I have three daughters that live in Europe, I have two here, so there’s five of them, so some of them get calls from people from here, saying, “We think it’s him.” I kind of just laughed about it and said, “Well, I’m not telling you anything.”
You said you wanted to have fun, so looking back on the entire experience, what did you enjoy the most about doing The Masked Singer?
I was impressed with the staff and everyone, the way they handled and kept it moving and the COVID factor and the secrecy and security, et cetera. The part that I enjoyed was probably the music, taking songs that I found fun once I got into the costume and got out there. That was really the big dynamic that I enjoyed the most: getting into each song, knowing the way that I had to do it.
The Masked Singer, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox