Turtle on The Masked Singer was stumped by some clues about his own identity
The celebrity under the mask talks to EW about what he plans to do next and the moment on the show that had him freaking out.
Warning: This article contains spoilers about the season 3 finale of The Masked Singer.
Turns out the panelists weren't the only ones stumped by some of the Turtle clues on this season of The Masked Singer.
The man beneath the shell, singer and actor Jesse McCartney, says he had to search Reddit and Twitter to figure out some of the hints about his own identity. The season 3 fan favorite who landed in second place, spoke to EW about those clue packages, his real-life friendship with another contestant, a possible collaboration with panelist Robin Thicke, and what's next for him (including the release of his breezy new song "Friends," which dropped Wednesday before the finale aired).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I'm so sad you didn't win! How disappointed were you, or were you not super competitive about it?
JESSE MCCARTNEY: Aww. It's okay, honestly. It was such a fun, incredible experience that I'll never forget. Of course there was disappointment on the initial reveal day. When you get that far, when you start with 18 people and then get to the final three, you definitely smell blood. You can smell the end. And yeah, I mean, I was disappointed, but ultimately, it could have been anybody's game. If you told me in the beginning of the season that I was going to finish second, I would have done it again in a heartbeat.
Were you a fan of the show before signing on?
The only reason I had seen the show was because my buddy T-Pain won season 1, and we have the same music agent. And I didn't watch the whole season, but I watched like the finale and I watched a couple of his performances. I watched his Sam Smith performance because that went viral, and he's got such a beautiful voice. So that's the only reason I watched the show. And then I didn't really watch any of season 2 while it was airing, until they reached out and asked me to be a part of season 3. And then I started tuning in and I saw Wayne Brady, and I was like, oh, man, that's the caliber of talent I'm going to have to be able to beat. So I really was excited about the challenge and the prospect of taking it on and that kind of motivated me, because Wayne Brady is one of my faves.
How much input did you have over your clues?
Well, they interview you every single week. The producers, they do what's called like a mining of sorts where they sort of probe you with tons of questions and you usually are repeating yourself over and over again. Some weeks they have a certain focus, right, so one week I think it was high school education or schooling or something along those lines, and I spoke about how one of the teachers in my life made a big impact on me and was always very supportive of my career, even though some of the teachers weren't. And she was my biology teacher. And so then they actually went to my school in New York and interviewed her, or called her on the phone and did an interview with her. And those are the kind of things that they would do. I would say I was a part of 80% of the clue packaging, but at a certain point, when the show starts heating up, it moves so quickly that sometimes they have to just work on the clues without you, but it's always information that I had given them or quotes that I'd given them. But I generally didn't get to see any of the clues until they do the live broadcast.
So did any of the clues surprise you?
Yeah. And actually, I couldn't figure out a couple of them. And then I had to literally go on Reddit and Twitter and see what other people were figuring out about the clues about me, and I would go, "Oh, yeah, that must be it." So there were a couple of moments that happened as well, which is a little embarrassing, but oh well.
What was your reaction when the judges finally guessed your identity correctly?
Well, I do remember it happening on stage and I think you know, your initial reaction is to freeze. And I felt like that would have been a tell because after every single guess that was wrong, I was always moving or being like, "aha, that's it" or doing something that made them think like, "Oh, yeah, you could be right." So when they announced Jesse McCartney it took me by surprise, and my initial reaction was, "Oh shit, they got it." But then I realized that's going to be a giveaway. I've just got to do my normal reaction. So I think I went into like a surfboard thing or like a surf's up thing. I just kind of just tried to play it as cool as I could, but definitely inside that mask I was freaking out.
One thing that was revealed in one of your clue packages is that you're a huge Robin Thicke fan. Would you do a collaboration with him in the future?
I mean, for sure. I think he knows that I'm interested in working with him in any capacity. And I'm a huge fan of his and I have been since before he was a superstar. I've always loved his music, even in the infancy of his career. And, you know, I think at some point it would be great to collab on something. I feel like the two of us together could do something really special. So maybe down the line. I have plans to reach out to him eventually. I'd love to do a song or an album. That'd be so fun.
Did you have any guesses about who the other contestants were?
I mean, somebody like Chaka Khan for sure I knew it was her the second she opened her mouth, because she has such a distinct tone. There were plenty of people I had no idea who they were. And then there was Astronaut — I love Hunter [Hayes'] music, so I knew immediately it was him. And I was excited that it was him and we actually subsequently became buddies after the show, so that was really fun. I was really thrown by Banana [Bret Michaels], I didn't know who that was. I had an idea that Bow Wow was the Frog but I wasn't certain, and I actually had no idea who Night Angel was.
What advice would you give to future contestants on The Masked Singer?
I would say start your breathing exercises and be in your tip-top physical shape because those costumes are heavy.
Yeah, could you see through yours? I know some contestants have trouble with that.
My vision was fine because the mouthpiece on my turtle face is actually my eye visor, like I was seeing through the mouth, so I had a pretty clear field of view. It was darker than usual. It looked like what I imagined it looks like if you were like, a fly or a bumblebee. You know what I mean? It just had that kind of shape inside of the mouth. It was really the shell and the jacket that was troubling because it was so precarious. I would be walking backstage and I would just completely take people out, because I was two feet wider on each side and I'm not used to that body shape.
I have to ask, since it seems every show is doing it these days: Would you be open to a Summerland reunion?
I loved Summerland. It was such a fun moment in my career, and it was my first experience moving to Los Angeles. And I can't think of a better way to experience L.A. than working on a beach on a surfing show. Yeah, I mean, never say never, never say never to anything. Crazier things have happened.
You released a new single, "Friends," today, but in addition to that, what's next for you?
Right now the music is kind of in the front seat of everything. The new single came out, which is really exciting. So there's a lot of fun there and I'm going to release a music video for that in the next couple of weeks that I just finished shooting here in my house. And then I'm doing another show for Fox airing tomorrow called Celebrity Watch Party. Other than that, I'm just going to be releasing another single eventually and hopefully get back on tour, which has obviously been canceled because of all this coronavirus stuff going on. Once this album cycle is done, I would like to pursue some more acting stuff whether it's television or film or something like that. My fiancée and I have been working a lot on a sketch comedy show called The Quarantine Couple that we've been putting on Instagram and it's been doing well. So maybe something in the comedy world? I don't know.
The Masked Singer