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Is The Masked Singer Popcorn Really Taylor Dayne?

Refinery29 logo Refinery29 11/12/2020 Ariana Brockington
a close up of a toy © Provided by Refinery29

Every season on The Masked Singer there are a few overlooked contestants, and in season 4 Popcorn definitely fits that bill. She constantly delivers great performances and the panel loves her. And in the Group A Finals, she once again proved she belongs on the frontrunner list. She has been competing against the mysterious Sun for weeks, belting out contemporary hits with her classic tone. Up until now, she has been able to keep the panel confused. But this week, Jenny McCarthy — who proves to continually be one of the best detectives on the panel — put enough clues together to point to famed ’80s pop singer Taylor Dayne. I have been waiting for someone to mention Dayne, but she’s not the only singer who could be under that mask.

Taylor Dayne

Dayne has a distinct, raspy tone, so it is not surprising that McCarthy mentioned her. It has taken them a while to finally get there, but the panel is finally catching on to Dayne being Popcorn.

From the first clue package, it was apparent that Popcorn is a proud New Yorker. From the Big Apple nods to the fact that Popcorn speaks in an pronounced New York accent, her hometown seems obvious. Dayne was born in Manhattan and even holds a spot in the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

The first set of clues included a garden table with a meatloaf and a red apple. While we’ve addressed that apple points to NYC, the meaty dish could have been a reference to the singer Meat Loaf. Dayne covered a song called “Original Sin” on The Shadow movie soundtrack in 1994. The following year, Meat Loaf recorded his own version of the song. 

Popcorn also mentioned in that first package that her career was built around love. Most of Dayne’s seven U.S. top-10 singles are about love or heartbreak: “Tell It To My Heart,” “Prove Your Love,” “I’ll Always Love You,” and “Love Will Lead You Back.” This is one of the rare cases on The Masked Singer where a clue does not actually need to be overly dissected. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Popcorn’s second clue package was packed, but the most revealing one was a hair crimper. Dayne’s music career took off in the ‘80s, which is a time period known for neon fashion and big hair. Dayne’s signature look back then included plenty of volume and crimping:

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The other standout from package number two was a gay pride flag. Dayne headlined the 2014 Augusta Pride festival in Georgia and in an interview about the event, she called the LGBTQ community her “most loyal fans.” In 2017, she wrote a letter to the community for Billboard during Pride Month. 

Lastly, the second package included a group of cats. Dayne played Grizabella in the musical Cats in 2013 at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. This was also hinted at in the first clue package which briefly showed a merry-go-round. 

Popcorn’s clues also continually note her love for host Nick Cannon. In week three, Popcorn praised his dance moves, smile, and overall vibe. The point of all this flirting seems to be that Popcorn is single. Dayne has never been married. 

In the Group A finals, each contestant had a friend step in to deliver more clues. Popcorn’s was a woman in royal garb with Russian doll mask speaking from a palace alongside a deer. Fun fact, a male deer is also called a hart and Dayne has multiple songs with the word heart in the title: “Tell It to My Heart,  “Heart of Stone,” and “My Heart Can’t Change.”

The third clue package also included a bowl of matzo ball soup, a food traditionally served during the Jewish holiday of Passover. Dayne is Jewish, and she made her version of matzo ball soup on the Food Network show Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off back in 2012.  

Finally, for week three’s special clue, Popcorn’s royal BFF revealed that she, too, has been on The Masked Singer and that Popcorn’s identity had been guessed in a previous season. Panelist Nicole Scherzinger pointed out that actress Leah Remini, who guest starred on season 3, is one of Dayne’s closest friends. 

Cyndi Lauper

While Dayne now seems so obvious, another option is fellow ’80s singer Cyndi Lauper. Guest panelist Niecy Nash was convinced that Lauper is Popcorn, and there are few reasons this guess is still slightly plausible. 

Lauper is from Brooklyn and constantly shows how much she cares about her fellow New Yorkers. In 2012, Lauper created the True Colors Residence in NYC to provide housing for LGBTQ homeless youth. She fits the title of “Queen of New York,” as Nash said.

The clue that Popcorn is was known for singing about love could also apply to Lauper’s hits like “Time After Time,” “True Colors,” “Change of Heart,” and her recent covers of “Funnel of Love” and “Heartaches by the Number.” 

In her first set of clues, Popcorn said she “went to places with royalty.” Lauper has collaborated and performed with countless artists including Sir Rod Stewart at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Royalty is often used as a loose term, but having “sir” in your title certainly helps.

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Popcorn’s second clue package included the phrase “corn and the beautiful,” a play on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Lauper appeared on a similar soap, As The World Turns, in 2008 as herself.

The gay pride flag from Popcorn’s second clue package could also point to Lauper: Her song “True Colors” is an anthem for the community. She has been an ally and activist for LGBTQ rights for years. Lauper also composed the music and lyrics for the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, in which one of the lead characters is a drag queen. Lauper won a Tony and a Grammy for her work on the musical.

The crimper in Popcorn’s clue package could have been a nod to Dayne, but it could just as likely be an acknowledgment of Lauper’s ever-changing hairstyles. As a queen of the ‘80s, Lauper rocked multi-colored wigs including a crimped pink look. Lauper is also known for her eccentric style and Popcorn’s clue packages are filled with bright colors that match Lauper’s wardrobe. 

As far as the royalty clue goes, most people associated with Lauper are royalty. She has accumulated many famous friends over the years, including Patti LaBelle — a friend of Lauper’s who has been on The Masked Singer. The one snag is that former contestants usually come back in costume, but the singer who was once the Flower could have switched up her look to keep the mystery alive… Or, the friend could be someone else.

When Popcorn’s BFF spoke, we saw a box with scissors and thread. This could be a sign that Popcorn is someone involved in fashion or a musician known for her style. We’ve covered that Lauper always makes a statement with her clothes and hair, but she also performed at fashion designer Betsey Johnson’s show during New York fashion week in 2012. It’s possible that Johnson is behind the Russian doll mask. 

There is one big hangup to this theory though: Lauper has been married to actor David Thornton since 1991, so Popcorn’s constant flirting with Cannon doesn’t quite track. However, contestants often mess with Cannon and Lauper and the host have shared a stage before. She appeared with him at Radio City Music Hall in 2014 when Cannon hosted America’s Got Talent. 

Nash said she was “dropping the mic” when she suggested Lauper’s name and the other panelist seemed to agree, but let’s be honest: It would be a near miracle if the comedian figured out Popcorn’s identity in just one episode.

Alana Davis

The New York clues have the panel stuck on musicians from that area, but The Masked Singer’s clues tend to be obscure, so Popcorn could be someone who is not so boldly associated with New York… like musician Alana Davis.

Davis is a New York native, but her hometown is not majorly associated with her name. She’s a good candidate for The Masked Singer, too, because her career took off in the ‘90s with a few hit singles into the early 2000s. Then, Davis stepped away from music and finally returned with her fourth album in 2018. The Masked Singer could be a way to jump start her career one more time.

We’re discussed the clue of hanging with royalty a few times now. Perhaps that clue actually suggests that Popcorn is not mega artist, but rather someone adjacent to a famous figure. Alana’s father was Walter Davis Jr. — a pianist who worked with jazz icons like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. 

In the second package, Popcorn says, “When I was a tiny kernel I suffered from a bizarre condition.” This clue could be interpreted multiple ways, but it could be a reference to one of Davis’ biggest songs, “Crazy.” The lyrics mention being “insane” and the music video has Davis in a padded room while doctors watch her. (It’s maybe not the most sensitive music video concept ever, but it is in her history.)

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The pride flag from Popcorn’s clue packages might not necessarily point to someone who is in the LGBTQ community, or an icon for that community. Most of the time, the clues are a little more sly. Davis has a song on her debut album called “Love & Pride,” which could tie into the pride flag and the clue that Popcorn sings songs about love.

There is also one clue in the third package that points directly to Davis’ identity: the box of thread and scissors, or sewing kit. The sewing carries multiple different colored spools of thread that the camera focused on, which could have been a reference to Davis’ song “32 Flavors.” The more compelling theory is that the tools connect to Davis’ father. He retired from music momentarily and ran a tailor shop while he took a break. 

Davis has a deep raspy voice to match Popcorn. She would also be a wild card on this show because it is so unlikely that anyone on the panel will ever guess her name. The Masked Singer does love an unexpected reveal, so I won’t count her out yet.

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