Update: This story was originally published on Nov. 4, 2020.
We almost watched history repeat itself on The Masked Singer season 4. Last season, Night Angel was introduced in Group C and quickly became the one to watch. Then on season 4 The Masked Singer's Mushroom just made their debut in the final group and they delivered an equally impressive, showstopping performance. The panel immediately labeled them as a front runner, but everyone continued to struggle to pin down even a single guess. Mushroom’s voice is so distinct and clear yet he was one of the most challenging musicians to guess this season. Now that the finale has aired, it turns out the panel was off and so were we: The Mushroom is none other than Aloe Blacc.
Original article continues:
Mushroom might be the first contestant in Masked Singer history who has made it to the finale without the panel or the audience being anywhere close to figuring out his identity. At this point, the options are endless. But after analyzing Mushroom’s body type, height, and vocal abilities, I think I am getting closer. A strong guess that the panel has yet to consider is Todrick Hall.
There were Hamilton clues everywhere in Mushroom’s first clue package, but the hints were too obvious for Mushroom to be someone from that particular play. Rather, he is likely someone with a musical background. Hall has been on Broadway, in Kinky Boots and Chicago, for starters.
Mushroom also spoke about starting out underground and there was a stage that resembled the set of Star Search. Hall built his fanbase after competing on season 9 of American Idol. The competition series is not exactly “underground,” but it does prove he did not have immediate success in the industry.
The second Mean Girls-themed clue package highlighted a crown. Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall released an EP called Quarantine Queen. Hall is also a frequent guest judge on Rupaul's Drag Race, which is a show about drag queens. Also, after his stint on Idol, Hall gained subscribers as a YouTuber and created viral videos of flash mobs featuring music from well-known musicians. One of the singers he frequently included in his videos was Beyoncé, a.k.a Queen Bey (who actually posted a response thanking him.)
The other part of Mushroom’s second clue package focused on him embracing being an outcast and “proudly” sharing his talents. Hall has spoken in interviews about his family not accepting him as a gay man when he first came out to them. He told People that he was not his authentic self on Idol and that YouTube allowed him to be himself.
Admittedly though, the clues in the third clue package challenged the Hall theory. Mushroom spoke about being class president, having a 4.0 grade-point average in school, and going by a different name when his career began. There does not appear to be any confirmation that Hall was class president in school and he has always used his real name.
On Dec. 2, after his performance of Amy Winehouse’s version of “Valerie,” Mushroom presented a special clue to Robin Thicke, saying it was not the first time the two have “connected.” While Hall and Thicke have not collaborated directly, Hall did make a parody of Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” for his YouTube channel.
Hall has been on Broadway and delivers a dramatic moment every time he performs. He has the vocals and personality to pull off Mushroom’s performances, so despite that set of off clues, he could definitely be behind the mask.
Jaden Smith’s name has been suggested for three weeks. This is the most baffling guess because Smith is more known for his rapping than his singing abilities. He is also significantly shorter than Mushroom, who appears to be almost as tall as host Nick Cannon. Still the panel, particularly Thicke, is convinced Smith is inside the earthy costume, so let’s breakdown which clues could apply to him.
In the first clue package, Mushroom said he started off “young, scrappy, and fungi” and “underground.” Before transitioning to music, Smith appeared in multiple films with his father Will Smith. One of those movies is The Pursuit of Happyness which shows the elder Smith as a homeless salesman taking care of his son. Mushroom could have been referring to his role in this film.
The second clue package is what kicked off the Smith ideas. The burn book from Mean Girls was referenced and in it was a picture of Kangaroo from season 3 of The Masked Singer, who was revealed to be Jordyn Woods. Kangaroo’s clues hinted at Woods’ relationship with the Kardashians and Jenners, particularly Kylie Jenner. Smith has been close friends with Jenner for years.
Mushroom stressed in the second clue package that he felt alone growing up and felt different from the other children around him. Guest panelist Wayne Brady suggested that these clues pointed to Smith. Being raised by two famous celebrity parents like Will and Jada Pinkett Smith would explain why Mushroom felt distanced from other children his age.
None of the clues in the third clue package clearly link to Smith or his career. Mushroom said he was class president and wanted to help youth. Smith was homeschooled and has posted a few questionable tweets about education not being necessary. Mushroom also stated that he used to go by a different name at one point but Smith has never had a stage name.
The super six episode opened with a group performance. Each contestant had a sign next to them which served as an extra clue. Mushroom’s sign said "cooling court." In 2013, Smith and his father appeared on Ellen and addressed Smith wanting to be emancipated from his parents. A minor who wants to be emancipated would have to file a petition to a court. So, the clue could have been a nod to this rumor about Smith.
Mushroom’s special clue for his fourth clue package was a clock. The time set was three o’clock which could have been a reference to the three children in Smith’s family: Jaden, his sister Willow, and brother Trey.
Thicke continues to propose his Smith idea but the lack of supporting clues in the third clue package lead me to believe that the rap artist is not inside the Mushroom costume. This could be his breakout moment to show off his talent as a singer, but I am not convinced.
The panel guessed three R&B singers who could be behind the mask: Usher, Donald Glover, and Frank Ocean. However, I think there is another major musician who dabbles in R&B and could also be Mushroom: Pharrell Williams. His song “Happy” proves he has a strong falsetto that could compare to Mushroom’s breathtaking performance of Maxwell’s "Woman’s World."
One standout moment in the clue package that none of the panelists noticed was a giant brown hat. The accessory almost perfectly matched the showpiece Williams wore to the 2014 Grammys. He followed up that controversial fashion choice by sporting the same headgear in multiple colors. He also experiments with his fashion, so Mushroom’s extravagant costume is definitely something Williams would wear.
The clue package was overflowing with Hamilton references. I already think Serpent is someone from the hit Broadway musical, so I highly doubt that another cast member is on this season. The Masked Singer is trying to misdirect us. However, Williams does have a loose connection to the play. Hamilton’s musical director Alex Lacamoire said in a 2015 interview with Vulture that he originally intended for the Act 1 song “The Schuyler Sisters” to resemble a Pharrell and Daft Punk track.
Another clue that somewhat links to Williams’ career was the clip of Mushroom singing on a stage in the package. Panelist Ken Jeong noted that it looked like the Star Search stage. Williams was not on that reality competition show, but he did step in to be a judge on The Voice for four seasons. Mushroom also said he was “able to rise up and help others grow.” The Voice is all about accomplished singers helping aspiring artists get better. And Williams is a major music producer who's worked with countless other artists.
Mushroom’s quiet confidence on stage aligns with Williams' demeanor. But I’ll need more clues next week to really be convinced the “Happy” singer is masquerading as the fungus.
The package was filled with Mean Girls references. Williams is the only person on this list who is somewhat linked to the film. His song with N.O.R. E. called “Put ‘Em Up” is on the soundtrack. However, I am leaning toward Mean Girls, just like Hamilton, being a red herring. I think the details in the scenes Mushroom recreated from the Lindsay Lohan flick are more helpful in solving Mushroom’s identity.
In the second clue package, Mushroom is holding a version of the “Burn Book” from Mean Girls. In this book, there are photos of a deer and Kangaroo from last season, who was revealed to be Jordyn Woods. When these pictures are put together, they could translate to “dear girl.” When Williams released his second album titled Girl, the tour for that record was called the Dear Girl Tour.
When Mushroom was in the cafeteria, he was holding a tray with two black beetles. In 2014, Williams (wearing his signature brown hat from the first clue package) performed a tribute to The Beatles with fellow musician Brad Paisley. The two insects could have represented Williams and Paisley dueting for this performance.
Mushroom wore a tiara and spoke about embracing being a “nerd.” Scherzinger thought the crown was a nod to Queen the band, but it could be a reference to another queen: Queen Bey. Williams made a cameo in her latest visual album Black Is King. He also produced five songs for the 2019 remake of The Lion King, which starred Beyoncé. That definitely makes Williams fit to wear a crown. The most important part of this clue was the subtle inclusion of the word “nerd.” Williams has been the lead vocalist of the band N.E.R.D. since 1999.
For the special clue segment this week, each contestant had an item “magically” appear after host Nick Cannon rubbed a lamp. Mushroom’s magical clue was a red brain. Williams is the executive producer of an education documentary show on Netflix called Brainchild.
The final significant clue was revealed after Mushroom sang Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” The panel is not any closer to figuring out Mushroom’s identity, so Scherzinger asked Cannon for a hint. He said he couldn’t, but he technically helped her. He told her that he was “surprised” the panel had not guessed correctly. Williams’ voice is pretty recognizable, considering “Happy” was played constantly in 2013 — and is still played constantly at every wedding and baseball game. So, Cannon could be baffled that none of the panelists have placed his voice or pointed out clues like the brown hat and nerd.
In the third clue package, Mushroom said the name he goes by now was not the name he used at the start of his career. This could be another reference to the multiple groups he was a member of like The Neptunes.
I have to admit that my confidence in this theory has diminished over the last few weeks. However, Mushroom’s super six clue package has revved it back up.
Mushroom presented a clock as his special clue in his fourth clue package and I suspect the time displayed was meant to throw the judges off. The real significance was the clock itself. After releasing “Happy,” Williams announced there would be a first-ever 24-hour music video for the track. The clock could be a nod to the monumental single and video.
If Williams is Mushroom, the show would have to go through great lengths to ensure panelist Thicke did not realize Williams’s identity. The two worked closely together on the controversial track “Blurred Lines.”
The show did not address a connection between Mushroom and Thicke until the super six. Each contestant chose a panelist to give a clue to and Mushroom chose Robin. He said, “I love mixing it up with you again because this is definitely not the first time we’ve connected.” Mushroom was also laughing when he said this which was a hint that his identity should be unmistakable. The “mixing it up” would then refer to Williams writing and producing "Blurred Lines" for Thicke. This clue is the most compelling evidence so far that Williams is gliding around the stage as Mushroom. And after this major hint, I'm pretty sure Williams will be unmasked as Mushroom during the finale.