Bop till you drop: Eliminated ‘Masked Singer’ Russian Dolls are ’90s pop idols

By | May 13, 2021


The Russian Dolls made Masked Singer history this season as the first band to ever compete on the show. The judging panel played dumb and guessed that it might be Sugarland, Boyz II Men, Barenaked Ladies, Savage Garden, or even Devo inside those wide-eyed wooden vessels… but surely Golden Ear-winning judge Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg recognized those beautiful brotherly harmonies from when the doll-faced former teen idols played unplugged on her MTV variety show in 1997.

Those instantly identifiable voices hadn’t gone through any Peter Brady-style transformation in the years since, and the trio’s diehard fans — or “Fansons,” as they are fondly known — recognized them straight away, when producers made the massive mistake of leaking one of the Russian Dolls’ performances early March. And on Wednesday’s top five episode, after host Nick Cannon struggled to unscrew the domed head off probably the heaviest and most cumbersome costume in Masked Singer history, out hatched Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson, looking as adorable as they did in their TRL heyday.

Hanson were never a matchy-matchy “boy band” per se — they wrote their own songs and played instruments — but youngest brother Zac joked, “You know, we have never taken to the stage wearing matching outfits before, but I think this might become a thing, you know?” Quipped middle brother Taylor, “You want more of us in spandex, is that what you’re trying to say?” (Well, I’m sure the Fansons wouldn’t mind.)

I really think the Dolls should have made it to the finale. They were arguably Season 5’s most eclectic contestants — one week getting funky-fresh on a Bruno Mars or Jason Derulo banger (the latter of which sounded uncannily like Hanson’s 2020 soul-pop single “Nothing But a Love Song”), the next week channeling Ally and Jackson Maine on “Shallow,” and this week bopping around with Beefeaters in Elton spectacles and feather boas to “I’m Still Standing,” a splashy number that wouldn’t have been out of place at this week’s Brit Awards.

I’m disappointed that the Russian Dolls are no longer standing and won’t be moving on to next week’s top four semifinals, but at least their Masked Singer run proved that there’s more to the Hanson (who’ve actually been in the business for an incredible 29 years!) than just “MMMBop.” Said Taylor, “You’re always seen as a certain thing. People think they know what you are. And [it’s nice] to be able to just start with music and focus on singing, and say, ‘Hey, you don’t know what’s behind this.’”

Perhaps not coincidentally, on the same day as their Masked Singer reveal, Hanson announced their forthcoming seventh studio album, Against the World, which will roll out as seven consecutive monthly singles throughout the year, starting with “Annalie.”

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