Masked Singer Finale: Who Won -- And Which Three Stars Were Unmasked?

After nine weeks of competition divided into three groups, the best of each converged for one epic finale on “The Masked Singer.”

We appreciated the slight format tweak this season that allowed for a vote midway to determine a third place finisher and then a second round of performances for the Top 2 — if only to get to hear them sing again!

All three of these remaining finalists are stellar singers and performers in their own right. We’ve all got our favorites among Firefly, Prince and Ringmaster. And we all have our guesses as to who’s behind these masks.

So which mask won the whole season, and who was behind that mask and the second- and third-place finishers? There’s only one way to find out, and with no filler this season it was nothing but wall to wall performances and unmaskings!

Let’s jump right in with this week’s masks. And don’t worry, before we get to the shocking unmaskings, we’re going to make you power through the terrible (and occasionally good) guesses made by our illustrious panel of Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger first. We do this because we love … to torture you.

(“Viva La Vida,” Coldplay) Prince came through with a very strong vocal showcasing a lot of control of his instrument. He was able to rein it in for the gentler opening and closing lines, but went full throated for the chorus. He’s always been a strong singer, but this was definitely a showcase to try and make a statement here in the finale, and he’s definitely proven a stellar singer.

Guesses: For his final set of clues, the “Glee” clues were coming in hot and heavy, with a “Glee Club Alumni” pin on his lapel and a framed photograph of creator Ryan Murphy even a part of the package.

When he commented on finally finding the love of his life, we saw a picture of a cat, while he also said that he’d learned to leave the hard things in the past. There was also a pretty blatant street sign for Broadway, but we already had a feeling this multi-talented artist had performed there.

Jenny thinks it’s Ben Platt under there, with Ryan Murphy having written “The Politician” for him and his Tony for “Dear Evan Hansen.” Robin, though, went a different direction, following the clues through a “Glee” Spanish teacher and “American Crime Story: Versace” star and wound up at Ricky Martin.

Ken, however, was wondering if maybe this was Matt Bomer, but it’s probably not. No one has guessed Twitter’s favorite guess for several weeks now, Cheyenne Jackson.

(“Bad Girl,” Usher) Firefly comes out with that contralto vocal and really brings a lot of sensuality to her performances. We’ve’ talked before about her relatively limited vocal range, as she doesn’t have a higher register she ever taps into, but she did seem to be giving a little more oomph into her vocals overall, including reaching higher than we’ve seen before. The tone of her voice is silky smooth and very pleasing, but was this exciting enough?.

Guesses: This time around we saw a basketball hoop, suggesting a tie to the NBA (maybe a “DWTS”-winning husband or something less specific?).  She talked about having to face her fears and actually coming out of retirement, suggesting she’d stepped away from music.

We say music because she moves around the stage with dance moves and that confidence in her singing that says she’s been at this a while and music is more than likely what she did, at least for a time. We also saw piano keys as well as the classic dance count of 5,6,7,8 (with an emphasis on the “7”).

Robin picked up on the use of the word “fade” in the package, tying it to Kanye West’s “Faded” video. He also noted the basketball net and recalled the previous clue package’s picture of Pharrell Williams to land on the internet’s favorite guess, Teyana Taylor.

For Nicole, the faded “M,” the Atlanta connection with Tyler Perry and pictures of Pharrell Williams and Kanye West took her instead to Monica. Ken, though, instead flipped the script to Brandy. The “M” on the TV referring to “Moesha” and the basketball net points to her going to prom with Kobe Bryant and the “7” because of her album “B7.”

Twitter, though, is still certain that it’s Teyana Taylor — and they also haven’t forgotten that she stormed off the stage when it was revealed she was in the Bottom 2 during her group round before finally coming back out to win the sing-off.

We never got confirmation as to what happened there, but many online think it’s indicative of her having a bad attitude, like she didn’t believe she should have been in the bottom two, calling it bad sportsmanship. Others agreed she should have never been there.

(“Gravity,” Sara Bareilles) Ringmaster always impressed, but we’d forgotten just how transcendent she could be with just her voice alone. This performance had us in our feels, which is always a surprise because they’re in these silly costumes. But it’s a testament to the breadth and depth of her talent. She had range, she had different textures, a breathy soft tone, power notes and such (ring)masterful control.

Guesses: She’s talked before about how singing was where it started for her, but then life had other plans. Again, she reiterated that music was her only passion when she was younger, but nevertheless she found herself moving in different directions away from it. This show is an attempt to course correct … or at least add music back in.

Images this week included Simon Cowell, a horse with a heart over it and a cartoon drawing of a mouse in a pink princess dress and tiara. We also saw hail hitting a roof, which would seem to solidify Twitter’s top guess, “The Goldbergs” star Hayley Orrantio with the hail a nod to her first name.

Ken saw the hail, but hit the wrong person with Hailee Steinfeld (who actually came into music after she’d broken out as an actress). He tied the princess mouse to Disney because she’s in “Hawkeye” and the horse to her Oscar-nominated performance in “True Grit” as a young girl, all of which is true. But he’s still wrong.

Nicole, though, thought the horse with a broken heart references country music, the Disney connection is “Wizards of Waverly Place” and this time, the hail might be referring to Lucy Hale. Jenny, though, thought the hail could refer to “Ice Princess” and the horse to “Nashville” and maybe this is Hayden Panettiere.

One of Ringmaster’s earlier clues was to tell Nicole, “It’s good to see you.” Nicole said she saw Hayden at a pool once, “so there it is.” Case closed? Nah, ‘cause it’s probably Hayley Orrantio.

It’s a little worrisome when we get to these finales because the best singer doesn’t always win, like Black Swan (JoJo) losing to Piglet (Nick Lachey). Does that mean our girl Ringmaster might not win this thing? After that performance, she’s our lady all the way.

At the same time, we thought Firefly’s limited range as a vocalist would work against her, but for us it actually enhanced a breathy, soulful and seductive performance this week. She was all over that performance, coming out strong. Our pick at this stage would be The Prince.

But then again, we didn’t even think Prince should be here over Queen Cobra (En Vogue), so clearly we’re underestimating his appeal. If he should survive this first cut, then it should be Firefly. All of this was to say it had better not be Ringmaster.

Only one singer would be eliminated with this vote, leaving two to sing one more time for that final crown. So did the audience and panel get it right? For once, they absolutely did, making it a good singer diva showdown for the final round as we said goodbye to Prince!

Robin Thicke: Ricky MartinJenny McCarthy: Ben PlattKen Jeong: Matt BomerNicole Scherzinger: Cheyenne Jackson

Huge props to Nicole for switching it up at the end, even tying the cat to his show, “Call Me Kat.” Everyone else doubled down on their previous bad guesses, but Sherlock Scherzy did the work and came up with the most likely answer — it’s certainly the one we’re going with. We know better than to cross the Twitter mobs.

Of course Nicole got to take a victory lap as Cheyenne Jackson was unmasked. He explained that he wanted to do this to get back to his roots in music. “It bugs my mom the most, she says, ‘Singing’s your main thing!’”

He admitted that it was scary, but he urges everyone to do that which scares them because look how far he made it. “I’m proud of myself,” he shared, as well as he should be. And he got to reveal this talent that too many people didn’t seem to know he possessed.

(“Lost Without U,” Robin Thicke) Firefly just threw the gauntlet with her absolute best performance of the entire season. She had so much character in her delivery, lots of great personality and storytelling. Her voice caressed these lyrics beautifully, she showed off some of those upper notes we’ve been missing and really brought it home. She just made a strong case for herself when it mattered the most.

(“Waking Up in Vegas,” Katy Perry) Ringmaster remains so consistently strong, but she didn’t quite manage to connect as much with this uptempo fun piece. She nailed it, but in a competition, it’s really hard to win with a fun song when facing a heartfelt one. Still, Ringmaster is a consummate pro as a singer, showcasing that she can do almost any style of music and bring her incredible range, power and vocal control to it. This was a great moment for her.

We went from incredibly confident that Ringmaster had what it took to take this season, and then Firefly hit us with the Robin Thicke cover and made a real competition out of it. Song choice can be critical at moments like this, and Firefly definitely won in that regard.

Ringmaster has had a more consistently impressive overall season run, but Firefly was no slouch. She carried an incredibly strong presence through her first three episodes and then began to peak at just the right time, hitting her highest moment (and notes) with this second finale performance.

Based on the season, we’d give it to Ringmaster, but we’re pretty sure this audience wasn’t around for the whole season. So they’re more likely to base it on what just happened, and based on that, Firefly got the edge.

Did Firefly pull off what we would call a comeback victory over a stellar opponent in Ringmaster? After the final vote, it was the end of the journey for Ringmaster, meaning that Firefly pulled off victory after pouring it all out on the stage.

Robin Thicke: Maren MorrisJenny McCarthy: Hayden PanettiereKen Jeong: Hailee SteinfeldNicole Scherzinger: Lucy Hale

No one moved in the right direction on this one, with that ‘80s necklace clue from previous weeks pointing more likely to her starring role on “The Goldbergs” which is set in the 1980s. Twitter has been saying Hayley Orrantio for awhile now, and all of the clues have lined up right there. But were they right?

There is power in collective information sharing, though all of the clues were pretty clearly pointing to Hayley Orrantio. And we did first meet her as a singer on “The X Factor” way back in 2011, which she reminded Nicole of, explaining their connection.

Hayley noted she auditioned as a solo artist, but was put into a country-pop girl group called Lakoda Rayne. “I remember that name,” Nicole said not-at-all convincingly. She clearly remembered nothing of Hayley from their time tangentially connected through the show, but she’ll remember her now, urging the actress to go make an album already.

As strong as Ringmaster has been all season long, we can’t fault the audience for awarding Firefly this victory after two stellar performances back-to-back when they mattered the most. Firefly showed up to slay and that’s exactly what she did.

Robin Thicke: Teyana TaylorJenny McCarthy: Teyana TaylorKen Jeong: Alicia KeysNicole Scherzinger: Monica

The more than likely correct guess was contagious as Jenny jumped on board with Robin, while Ken reverted back to a far less likely guess from earlier in the season. The interwebs have been on the Teyana kick since before she first stormed off the set in the finale of her round of the competition? Were they (and Robin and Jenny) right?

How wild is it that mere months after NBA superstar Iman Shumpert became the winner of “Dancing with the Stars,” his wife Teyana Taylor would follow with a “Masked Singer” victory. That’s one talented family — so who’s got the bigger bragging rights?

As for Twitter, well they’re as polarized as they always are, with some feeling Firefly hasn’t deserved anything since she stormed off the stage earlier in the season — and certainly not the win — while others believe she absolutely slayed these final performances and earned every bit of the trophy and accolades.

“The Masked Singer” more than likely returns this Fall with Season 8 on Fox (the network has not yet released a fall schedule, but the show has been renewed).

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