SPOILER ALERT: This story contains the identity of the contestant eliminated on Wednesday night’s (Dec. 6) episode of The Masked Singer.

During his deep run into season 10 of The Masked Singer, Husky proved he was a big dog with a series of impressive performances. The canine with deep-blue eyes wowed the judges with his soulful spin on Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” busting out a sky-high falsetto and working the crowd like a veteran. He seemed more in his favored lane on a growly, fist-pumping run through Rick James’ “Super Freak,” on Harry Potter Night, which got judge Nicole Scherzinger thinking it could be R&B singer Tank, while Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg guessed it might be Brian McKnight or Babyface.

Robin Thicke said no to both of those, keying in on a crying-emoji clue that made him think it might be actor Terrence Howard, while always-wrong Ken Jeong suggested another sometimes weepy thespian, Morris Chestnut. The key clue, as it turned out, was the singer’s early success with the ladies, who, he said, would often shower him with their undergarments when he was onstage.

On Wednesday’s rock-themed Group C finals show — which featured a cameo from Poison’s Bret Michaels singing “Nothing but a Good Time,” as well as covers of songs by KISS and Mr. Big — Husky got emotional with the Bon Jovi ballad “Always,” once again proving his range with a lighters-in-the-air-worthy performance. Jeong clued into a “wild” clue and thought it might be DJ D-Wrek from host Nick Cannon’s long-running Wild ‘N Out series, while Thicke clued in on a carousel and doubled down on his earlier guess that it was none other than “Pony” singer Ginuwine.

The night also saw the elimination of Tiki (Sebastian Bach), with Group B champion Sea Queen moving on to the season finale.

Billboard spoke with Ginuwine before his elimination about coming out of his shell to do the show, why the Husky appealed to his “go-getter” personality, and how he felt about the viral Justin Timberlake “fo shiz” moment in Britney Spears’ recent The Woman in Me memoir.

You’ve done a bit of reality TV, including Celebrity Big Brother in the UK in 2018, but is it safe to assume this was even weirder than sharing a house with a drag queen, ballet dancer and a detective?

It’s two totally different shows. … I’m pretty much a reserved person. I try to stay out of the limelight as much as I possibly can, but over the last few years, I’ve tried to get out of being such a loner and come out of my shell and try some things, so I just gave it a chance. Now I’m back in my reserved mode.

In which case, how did you end up on the show? Was it your idea?

Oh no! It wasn’t my idea at all! They just happened to call. I was pretty much forgotten for a minute until this year, a couple things went viral and my name was poppin’. … I definitely wasn’t even trying to go viral — that’s not my thing. Crazy stuff happens. [Laughs] But it was good because I got to try out new things.

Did you think you had a chance at winning?

Again, anything I was gonna try, I’m definitely gonna try to win, but there were obstacles that stop you. You have no authority over whether you stay or go; you just do your best and hope for the best.

Talk about those obstacles — what made it hard for you?

[Laughs] Wearing that mask! Because it was real hot and very uncomfortable. I had fun, but the only reason I felt like I didn’t make it as far as I possibly could have was because of the mask … which was very hot and I have asthma, so it dried me out and I couldn’t sing as well as I usually do. I was hoarse a whole lot. If you came to one of my concerts, you would definitely see a big difference, but I have no regrets. I’m glad I did it.

Gotta ask: Why Husky?

They sent me that one, and right off the bat I could relate it to who I am: an alpha male, a go-getter and just focused on whatever it is that I try. So that was the one that suited me perfectly.

And, like, a horse would have been too obvious right?

[Laughs] Yeah, that would have been way too obvious!

You really got to spread your wings, singing a couple of rockers from Elton John and Bon Jovi — plus that Rick James jam — how did it feel to get out of your comfort zone?

They picked those, but I was real happy about the Rick James one, but I didn’t know the other two. I had to learn them and they were totally out of my comfort zone. I’ve been in this business for 27 years and I’m used to doing my own stuff, not stuff I have to learn.

The guesses were all over the place — Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Brian McKnight — how did you feel about them? Did any of them piss you off?

Nah, I wasn’t pissed off about the guesses; that’s part of the fun. I was more like, “You think it’s Brian McKnight? We sound totally different!” I knew Robin would have a better guess than anyone else because I’ve been around him a lot. Because I was hoarse, I might have sounded a little less familiar and I was trying to throw them off so they couldn’t get it, and I wasn’t going to try to sound like myself.

It’s been more than 20 years since you released a new album, do you have anything in the works?

The state of music, in my opinion, has changed dramatically. Unless you have a big machine behind you, a song lasts a month, but back in my day one song could last a whole year. It’s oversaturated and, for me, I’m just humble and blessed that I came out in the ’90s era with music that still stands the test of time. I’ve never worked as much as I’ve been working in the last 10 years — doing shows, people using my music, all that — and so I really don’t have to work, which is a blessing for me to do the ’90s tour all over Australia, Japan, and because I wrote so much of my music back in the days, the royalty thing is good.

You mentioned some viral moments earlier, so I have to ask about the Justin Timberlake “fo shiz, fo shiz” moment in Britney Spears’ memoir and if you remember that.

Nah, I don’t remember that. [Laughs] I would have probably looked at him very weird if he did that like she said. I just don’t remember that, but I remember him being a cool dude and me kicking it down there in Florida with [*NSYNC’s] producer at one time. Nah, I don’t remember that.

I have to ask because I’m obsessed: Is it fair to say — as I do all the time — that “Pony” has basically become the modern shorthand for sex thanks to Magic Mike and every karaoke bar playlist over the past 20-plus years? How does it feel to have a Marvin Gaye-level sex jam in your catalog?

I couldn’t have said it better myself! You absolutely hit it right on the head. The No. 1 karaoke song and it’s stood the test of time. Even more successful artists than myself have used it … Rihanna [2014’s “Jump”], Britney [a viral ALTÉGO “Toxic Pony” remix], Drake [2016’s “Fake Love”] … so many people. So it introduces me to the younger generation and it keeps me relevant.

Gil Kaufman
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