Banana Split Duo Talk Making It to ‘Masked Singer’ Finals & The Song You Didn’t Hear

Consider Banana Split officially melted. After making an impressively delicious run on this season of The Masked Singer that included showstopping performances of everything from Michael Bublé‘s take on the Julie London classic “Cry Me a River” to Lady Gaga‘s “Poker Face,” the dynamic duo with the powerhouse voice and smooth piano stylings were eliminated during the Group B Finals on Wednesday night (Oct. 8).

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Following their shocking elimination after covering “Singin’ in the Rain,” the season’s front-runners were unmasked and revealed to be [SPOILER ALERT] American Idol alum Katharine McPhee and her husband, 16-time Grammy winner David Foster.

In fact, in a season that boasted a combined 85 Grammy nominations, 27 Grammy wins, 12 Emmy nominations and three Academy Award nominations among the 18 contestants, Foster alone accounted for 45 of the Grammy nods and all three Oscar nominations as quite possibly the most decorated competitor in Masked Singer history.

And while judges Robin Thicke, Ken Jeong and Nicole Scherzinger were stumped all season long, two-time Golden Ear winner Jenny McCarthy nailed the couple’s identity with her First Impression Guess after just a single performance.

Below, Billboard caught up with Foster and McPhee in the wake of their elimination to chat about everything from how the experience compared to the latter’s reality singing competition roots and their surprising connections to the judging panel to which Billboard Hot 100 smash they wish they could’ve performed on the Masked Singer stage — all with a healthy dose of the quick-witted banter that endeared them to viewers all season long.


So first off, congratulations on making it all the way to the finals!

David Foster: You think that’s worthy of congratulations? We lost!

Katharine McPhee: [Laughs]

Well, we’re trying to be positive, right?

Foster: Right, that’s funny.

So, Ice Cream, how did it feel to be back on a reality TV singing competition?

McPhee: Oh my gosh, it brought back all those horrible butterflies to the stomach, I’ll tell you that. I was like…David has got this rare, I don’t know, he gets like zero stage fright. And obviously that sounds a lot easier for him.

Foster: But I had the easier job.

McPhee: Yes, but I’m saying you go — we’re on a tour right now for David’s tour. He’s doing 18 days, he’s all over Florida, we’re in South Carolina. But anyway, he gets up there and has a two-hour show and he’s up there MC’ing the whole thing, playing. He doesn’t get nervous at all. Like, I’m the complete opposite. I get debilitating nerves throughout my entire body. So it definitely brought back some cringeworthy feelings. But we had so much fun. We really, really did. I thought maybe because I was behind a mask, I would have zero stage fright, but that was not the case. I was still petrified.

How would you compare this judging panel to Simon, Paula and Randy on American Idol?

McPhee: Oh! Well, you know, nothing really compares to the three original judges on American Idol‘s panel. Obviously it’s a more intense experience because they’re specifically looking for creating a recording artist superstar and this is a family-friendly, fun show. And for us, it was fun because, you know, we’re friends with Nicole. David basically discovered her.

Foster: My sister Jaymes [Foster] and I, yeah, we helped her a lot back in the day. And Robin I’ve known since he was a baby; his father [the late actor and songwriter Alan Thicke, a fellow Canadian] and I were truly best friends. And I’m a huge Ken fan.

McPhee: And I worked with Ken when I did an episode on Community. So we’ve known each other. So this was so different because we were personal friends with these people, and it made it really fun to get up there the first time and actually hear their reactions. Funnily, they knew exactly who we were. Despite what Robin said, I think he was just doing good old-fashioned television acting.

Foster: I don’t know, I don’t know.

McPhee: I think he did.

What were you thinking when Jenny guessed your identity right away after your first performance of “A Million Dreams”?

McPhee: I was like, “Seriously? That fast?”

Foster: How did she? How did she?

McPhee: [To Foster] ‘Cause apparently, I think historically she’s very good at guessing people.

Foster: Ohhh.

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McPhee: I was surprised. Because I didn’t really think that my voice was that recognizable. Like I don’t really — not to knock myself, but I don’t think my voice is that unique.

Foster: It’s pretty unique.

McPhee: You don’t think it’s that unique.

Foster: I do!

McPhee: [In mock anger] Well then why haven’t you signed me, David, OK?

Foster: True that.

McPhee: But anyway, yeah, I was just surprised. I guess maybe those years on Idol and Smash have kind of made an impression on people. I dunno, I just didn’t think that I had such a specific sound.

Foster: We got to do every genre of music. From “Singin’ in the Rain” to you know, the Dixie Chicks and it was just fun. So behind that mask, and I had the easy job just playing the piano —

McPhee: [Interjects] No, you put a lot of — he put a lot of time, like, going home and working on all those arrangements. And yes, there’s an amazing producer on the show who did a great job. But David spent a lot of time putting his sprinkle on, no pun intended.

Foster: But it was so great to be able to do any genre and not try to worry about getting it on the Billboard Top 40.

You mentioned during the “Date Night” episode that song selection was actually one of the hardest parts of the show for you. Is there one song that you were most proud of?

McPhee: I really loved “Singin’ in the Rain,” although I shouldn’t be that proud of it ’cause that’s what got us kicked off.

Foster: [Deadpans] That’s a sh–ty choice.

McPhee: [Sighs] Yeah.

Foster: We really wanted to do — and I worked up an arrangement of — Olivia Rodrigo‘s “Drivers License.” We love that song. But we weren’t able to clear it, unfortunately. But the arrangement’s done and the record’s made!

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David, did you have any trouble playing the piano with those gloves?

Foster: Yes.

McPhee: He sure did.

Foster: I did, but they cut little holes in the fingers, which hopefully you couldn’t see on TV…They came up with that idea. And if you’ll notice, my piano playing wasn’t exactly stellar. It was just kind of, like, enough to get by.

McPhee: [Laughs]

Let’s talk clues. Was there any clue that you thought maybe was a surprise or went over the judges’ and audience’s heads at all?

Foster: Well, it all went over my head. I mean, those clues are so weird.

McPhee: It is weird, yeah.

Foster: We didn’t really pay much attention because I couldn’t…But, you know, Jenny and the other judges, they all dig in. They go, like “Well, they said that there’s an ice cream store down…” They just come up with this stuff that I have no idea what they’re talking about.

McPhee: Yeah, we didn’t really think too much about the clues.

Was the handing over of the bunny at the carnival a clue in the “Date Night” episode? Because I had a personal theory about that one.

Foster: What’s your theory?

Well, given your past participation on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I wondered if that was a reference to Kim Richards returning Lisa Rinna’s infamous bunny at the Season 7 reunion. 

Foster: Ohhh. I hope not.

To be fair, you weren’t featured on the show at that point. Maybe I was thinking too hard about it.

Foster: See? You shouldn’t do that. [Laughs]

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So Katharine, have you remembered yet how you won that Favorite Hottie award from the Thanksgiving episode?

McPhee: Oh my gosh, no. [Laughs] But you know, when I came off of American Idol, that show was at the height of its seasons. So, I think I…no, I don’t remember that.

Foster: It was in high school, though.

McPhee: No it was not. Was it?

Foster: The Hottie Award was from high school.

McPhee: Oh, I thought I was Most Likely to Be Famous in High School [Laughs]

Foster: I thought they were going to show one of my Grammys, but they did not.

McPhee: No, I think it was, like, post-American Idol when I was doing a lot of press and I was really hot at the time. So, I think it was just one of the many awards I was receiving. [Laughs]

What’s your biggest takeaway from this experience of doing The Masked Singer together?

Foster: Well, you know what? My takeaway is that it made me actually love making music. Because with COVID, everybody’s been sort of isolated a little bit. It’s been dark, obviously, for everybody — no touring and all that. And it really got us in the mood again to make music, and we had such a blast doing it with no restrictions. Imagine! You’re allowed to make music and there’s no restrictions. You don’t have to adhere to a genre or to a chart or to radio or to whatever. And so it was just great. And Kat, she can do anything. She can sing any kind of music, any kind of genre really, really well. So it was like a smorgasbord for me. I really had fun.

McPhee: I think my takeaway was just, it’s not a surprise, but what a great time we have together.

The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

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