Hummingbird Talks Early Flight Off ‘Masked Singer’ & Bandmate instantly guesses who it was

Spoiler alert: This story contains information about contestants eliminated on Wednesday’s (Sept. 28) episode of The Masked Singer.

The cutthroat format of season 8 of The Masked Singer is unforgivable. With only one vocalist advancing from each section, Wednesday night’s round saw the early rejection of an international boy band superstar who has sold more than 70 million albums.

The episode “Vegas Night” opened with Season 1 runner-up Donnie Osmond singing a medley of “The Greatest Show” and Elvis’ classic Sin City tribute “Viva Las Vegas” along with dancing dice and showgirls.

However, the night started with Hummingbird getting fired up after last week’s solid cover of Gavin DeGraw’s reality singing show “I Don’t Want to Be.” And while he was a little surprised — and maybe a little hurt, that despite selling millions of albums and singles with his world-famous boy band in the 1990s and early 2000s — the guesswork was mostly from The NFL’s persuasion. Names including Deion Sanders, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were thrown out before Matchbox Thieves’ Rob Thomas and Uncle Kracker were thrown into the mix. He should have been a bit annoyed as the man beneath the towering wings and headdress was none other than *NSYNCis Chris Kirkpatrick.

Before his elimination, Billboard spoke to Kirkpatrick about getting hit on by bandmate — and guy Masked veteran — Joey Fatone, who figures out a whole new way to perform and why he’s perfectly fine transitioning from freaking-out teenage girls to screaming moms in his audience.

Did you watch the show before you came on?

I definitely saw it – Joey was in – so I had to tune in [then] to understand what he was doing. I’ve definitely seen a lot of episodes.

Joey did ok when he was on the first season. Was there any way for you, quietly, to ask his advice or get tips?

I tried to keep it very close to the hip, which was a little hard. I knew a bunch of people who’ve been on it, like Chris Daughtry, and it took everything in my power not to say, “Hey, give me some hints, help me, tell me what they’re looking for .” The only person who knew was my wife.

Gavin’s singing is a staple of singing competition shows. Why did you choose that and what were you trying to get across musically?

I chose that song because I wanted to go in a different direction. I figured I’m known for my high falsetto with the band and I thought I’d go with something lower and different so they wouldn’t immediately know who I am. Although I looked on Twitter and a lot of people said, “I like Hummingbird on my feed!” I had to say, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” A lot of true fans knew and they said they knew it was me the moment I opened my mouth. Certain bands have a following where fans know your voice inside out so well that you can put on any costume and mask and they know who it is.

That’s a testament to your talent, isn’t it?

Yes. I wanted to change it up a bit and do something different than what they might think I would do. It’s pretty flattering, they knew right away.

You’re used to jumping around the stage while singing, but the giant wings and head definitely seemed to make it more difficult.

The wings and big head definitely slowed me down. We even went through some choreo during rehearsals and by doing that it was so hard… I was hitting people with those wings and I had to have changes [on the costume] so I could go myself. When I first went out, it hit me in the back of my legs and I couldn’t move at all.

Plus, you’re 5’9″ according to the internet, but I guess it’s fun to get closer to 6 feet tall, right?

Oh man, that was so insane. Not only was it tall, but it was also long because it had the long beak and wings. So when I walked around it was like 3-D Tetris trying to fit around and under things in the hallway [backstage], like, “Can I handle this?” Anyone who is on the show will tell you that it is so hard to be in that costume. But just the weight of it – between the head and the wings – it really weighed on me. I’m used to just singing and dancing, but adding the costume — vocally, you really have to change almost everything you’re used to doing when you’re performing.

To be honest, the guesses were kind of odd and oddly sports-focused. How did you feel about it?

When they first started suggesting them, I was like, “Man, did I sound bad?” I think, “I’m a singer, that’s what I do – I might be in a costume, but that’s what I do!” When they guessed the athletes, I thought, “Man, I think I must have done something wrong!” It was Johnny Manziel, Peyton Manning, but when they said Rob Thomas and Uncle Kracker, it made me feel better.

Have you heard from former bandmates who knew it was you? Joey made it to episode 8 in season 1 so he must have known it was you.

Oh yeah, Joey definitely wrote me and said, “So how was it The Masked Singer? I was like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and he said, “whatever, Hummingbird.” I couldn’t even admit it, but he said I sounded good and I should be proud. When you sing with a guy for 25 years, they definitely know your voice.

You’re not the first boy band to do the show – they’ve had Nick Carter, Bobby Brown, Hanson, Nick Lachey – why do you think it appeals to former boy band members?

I just think it’s fun, quirky. It’s something else we’re not used to doing. We are used to going out and doing choreography and singing our parts. It was almost like being stripped down to the voice, and then you just have to sing and be who you are vocally. It was really hard. I sat with the vocal coach, who is amazing, and they helped me understand how to still “hear” facial expressions in a song, even if the costume is heavy. But mostly we wouldn’t get to interact with the audience or people at home visually, so I had to try and figure out how to work the song as the character more than myself.

You’ve sold 70 million albums with *NSYNC and are instantly recognizable to an entire generation, so were you a little disappointed to be cast so early? To be fair, Lil Wayne was one and done.

I think if the format was different I would have been really disappointed. But the fact that you were wearing four [one episode] and only one person won that show. If I look at it as I came in third last, instead of last, at least I made the last two. Listening to Harp… she was amazing. I thought, “My time is up.”

What’s next for you, what are you working on?

I have made one Pop 2000 tour which has been so much fun to host and do a few songs [alongside Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath (another Masked veteran), LFO, Ryan Cabrera and David Cook]. It’s been a really fun, busy year that started with me doing it Older brother and then I did a commercial or two and then I filmed an episode of Cribs [reboot] and I have some other things coming up.

We’re just a few years away from *NSYNC’s 30th anniversary. Can you believe it’s been so long since you guys blew up?

Man, when you put it like that, you put things into perspective. I don’t think of it that way, but when you put it in that time frame… the way I see it is if I do these shows or different events, you can always see it from the fans. It wasn’t what it was in the 90s or 2000s, not teenage girls, but now moms and teenage girls look at you like, “I have no idea who you are, but my mom knows who you are.” It’s cool because I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who said, “I was in high school and I couldn’t afford a ticket, or it was too far away, but now I can afford a ticket and a T-shirt and drinks with my friends.” They have fun with their friends and relive their youth.

Related Posts