Spoilers are ahead. The Masked Singer introduced a singing duo for the first time on the show last season. It's clearly a tradition the series plans to continue, because for season 5, The Masked Singer introduced the Russian Dolls. But the Russian Dolls added another surprise to the competition when they suddenly revealed three members during their March 24 performance. The costume is so large that it is difficult to tell how many people might be inside the Russian Dolls — and revealing limitless additional dolls is kind of the point of a nesting doll or matryoshka. So previous theories about two Jonas Brothers or Glee cast members being the Russian Dolls seemed plausible until they became a trio, and this week’s theories may earn the same fate if the dolls keep multiplying. But for now, we can toss aside any duos and focus on the internet’s prevailing theory: Hanson is inside these dolls. Their harmonies are a giveaway for anyone who grew up listening to “MMMBop.” Plus, they have a clear motive to join the show: rehabilitating their image.
While some contestants agree to be on The Masked Singer to reinvigorate their careers, others use the show as a way to redeem themselves, occasionally for past, questionable behavior. Hanson falls into the latter category. A Vice article from November 2020 included stories from former Hanson fans explaining why they were leaving the fanbase. Last year, some fans were disappointed in the group’s failure to show their support for Black Lives Matter until Issac, Taylor, and Zac’s Instagram pages were overwhelmed with comments asking them to speak out about the movement. Then it was discovered, Zac’s now-deleted Pinterest account (under the name “Commanding Officer”) included memes that Vice described as “racist, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist.” One compared Rosa Park’s refusal to move to the back of the bus to pro-gun advocates wanting to keep their weapons. In November, Isaac posted an Instagram story about COVID-19 restrictions that said “I for one will not comply.” The post was a response to “our governments,” as he put it, cautioning people not to congregate during the holidays.
It is possible the trio will use this platform as an opportunity to address the fans they have disappointed, but until we know more, let’s look at the clues that make it harder and harder to deny that the Hanson brothers are the Russian Dolls.
Clues That The Russian Dolls Are Hanson
In week two, the Russian Dolls multiplied to reveal three members who are likely Hanson’s Isaac, Taylor, and Zac. Cluedle-doo appeared at the end of the group’s performance of Shawn Mendes’ “Wonder” to share “leaked” audio from the Russian Dolls. In the clip, they talk about the possibility of a fourth member, but this is very likely a classic Masked Singer red herring. Their voices make it so obvious that Hanson is on the show.
“A Russian Doll Can Sometimes Have 15 replicas of Itself” —Cluedle-Doo clue from Week 1: The 15 replicas could very well represent the 15 children between Isaac, Taylor and Zac. Isaac has three, Taylor has seven, and Zac has five.
The “Mizfitz” toy store from Week 1: The incorrect spelling of misfits — the “itz” — may stand for Isaac, Taylor, and Zac.
“Tried to put me into a box” from Week 1: In their early songs, Hanson sang about wanting to break free from their music expectations as a boy band. Their song “Weird” includes the line “when you live in a cookie cutter world being different is a sin.”
“Sell out without being a sellout” from Week 1: After releasing their second album, Hanson split from their record label Island Def Jam. The band now releases music under their independent label called 3CG Records.
The rabbit from Week 3: In the first season, Rabbit was revealed to be ‘NSYNC member Joey Fatone. The brief appearance of the stuffed animal in this clue package may be a hint that the Russian Dolls are also in a popular band that originated in the 1990s.
The letterman jacket with “M” from Week 3: The “M” on the jacket is probably a reference to the trio’s hit song “MMMBop” from their debut album. The track earned them two Grammy nominations: Best Record and Best Pop Performance by Duo or Group.
“Rushed to the hospital” from Week 3: During the group’s Wintry Mix tour in 2019, Zac was in a motorcycle accident. A message posted on the band’s Instagram page announced that Zac suffered “three broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and a cracked scapula.”
“These colors just really pop like we do”— Self Portrait from Week 3: Although Hanson has experimented with their sound and dabbled in other genres, the brothers are considered a pop group.
Snow Owls’ appearance from Week 6: Season 4 contestants the Snow Owls, who were revealed to be country musicians Clint Black and Lisa Hartman, popped up in the Russian Dolls’ third clue package. Their appearance also connects to the “coming to country near you,” bench in the Russians Dolls’ initial set of clues. The country clues could be a reference to the Hanson brothers’ hometown of Oklahoma, since the state is home to many country musicians like Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton.
The “What goes around…comes around” t-shirt from the Nick “Cannon” Clue in Week 6: While this shirt made the panel think of the popular Justin Timberlake song with the same name, it also has ties to Hanson. The brothers released an album and song in 2000 called This Time Around. Their 2008 tour was also called “The Walk Around the World Tour.”
“I can’t promise we’ll be dancing” line from Week 7: One of the Russian Dolls showed off some basic two-step dance moves while singing Bruno Mars’s “24K Magic” which seemed to confirm, along with this quote, that the group is not known for their dance skills. Although Hanson is considered a “boyband,” the group did not perform dance routines like other ‘90s groups such as *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys. The brothers preferred playing instruments on stage and in their music videos.
The Milwaukee crate from Week 7: The cargo could be a reference to a track off of Hanson’s debut album Middle of Nowhere called “Man from Milwaukee.”
Selling out a venue around the corner from The Russian Tea Room clue and “Practice, practice, practice” line from Week 7: As helpful guest panelist Rita Wilson correctly pointed out, Carnegie Hall is located next to The Russian Tea Room in New York City. The band wrapped up their Underneath Acoustic tour in 2003 with a performance at Carnegie Hall. In 2003, People magazine interviewed the brothers about their tour and Zac said the same “practice, practice, practice” quote.
“Tonight, we set the table to toy with you even more” quote from Week 7: The Russian Dolls hinted to the audience that they would be messing with the panel. While four dolls appeared on stage during their fourth performance, it seemed like only the larger doll and the smaller one moving around the stage actually had people in them. The two extra dolls were probably props to distract the panel. Also, only two dolls remained on stage to listen to feedback which means it is likely that two people were inside the larger doll this week. This performance practically confirmed that there are only three singers performing as the Russian Dolls.
The Russian Dolls Are Pentatonix
With each Russian Dolls performance, the Hanson theory grew stronger. However, it is always safe to have a backup plan. The panel has wondered since the Russian Dolls’ first song if the group singing includes both men and women. In Week 3, panelist Nicole Scherzinger suggested that a cappella group Pentatonix could be inside the multiplying costumes. And at the time, there were a few strong clues to support this theory...
The “cast to the side” line from Week 1: Pentatonix gained popularity in 2011 after winning the third season of an NBC competition show called The Sing-Off. The prize included a recording contract with Sony Music, but the group was later released from the label. Pentatonix decided to create a YouTube channel which helped further their success. This line could refer to Pentatonix short-lived record deal.
The “coming to country near you” bench from Week 1: The bench could refer to Pentatonix’s origins. Three members of the group, Kristin “Kirstie” Maldonado, Mitchell “Mitch” Grassi, and Scott Hoying, hail from Arlington, Texas. Pentatonix also has other connections to country music. The group took home the Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for their collaboration with Dolly Parton on her song “Jolene.”
The banjo with 3 strings from Week 3: The strings could be a reference to the group’s early beginnings. Although Pentatonix is now a quintet, the group began as a trio with Hoying, Maldonado, and Grassi.
Self portrait and “these colors just really pop like we do” quote from Week 3: Pentatonix sings original music but the quintet is also known for covering other artists. This clue could refer to Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” Omi’s “Cheerleader,” or other pop songs the group has reimagined. Additionally, the self-portrait could be a reference to Pentatonix’s 2018 album titled PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. I.
The White House clue from Week 6: The Russian Dolls specifically mention in their third clue package that they performed for a president at the White House. Pentatonix recalled the unforgettable moment in a 2014 tweet: “Remember when we performed at the White House & met @MichelleObama? WHAT A YEAR!”
Kevin & Frankie Jonas
The judges could not determine if the Russian Dolls were a man and a woman singing together or two men, but the latter seemed more likely. The voices sounded like two men with tenor voices. The chemistry during their performance also suggested that they have known each other for a long time which meant they could be siblings. Enter, Kevin Jonas and his youngest brother, often called the "Bonus Jonas," Frankie. That would put the Jo Bro in the lead singer spotlight for the first time in his career — which could have explained such a big get for the reality series. These were the clues:
Garden State Highway Sign From Week 1: As the panel mentioned, New Jersey is referred to as the Garden State. The Jonas kids were raised in Wyckoff, New Jersey before the family moved to Little Falls, New Jersey.
Vocals in “Man in the Mirror” Performance From Week 1: In their first performance, the bigger doll sang the first few verses of this Michael Jackson song before the second doll made a surprise appearance and joined in. When the bigger doll sang the beginning lines with the same vocal inflections Jackson used in the original, the vocals were reminiscent of the boyband style — familiar territory for the Jonas Brothers in their early days.
The Dolls' Sizes in Week 1: The size difference in week 1 implied that the bigger doll (the focus of the first clue package) is older while his smaller companion is younger, and possibly more shy. Frankie does not have the same stage experience as Kevin, so it would have made sense that he would take a supportive role while Kevin acts as the frontman.
MAGIC!’s Nasri & Alex Tanas
The Masked Singer panelists are usually way off with their initial guesses, which is why the theory that MAGIC! lead singer Nasri and drummer Alex Tanas are behind the dolls had potential. The Masked Singer is often used to restart a singer's career, which would have given the band that became famous for "Rude" back in 2014 a clear motive for going on the show.
Pitcher of Milk From Week 1: Sometimes The Masked Singer brushes past clues that are super obvious. The panelists ignored the pitcher of milk in the Russian Dolls’ first package, and it seemed like a crucial clue: disappearing milk is a classic magic trick. Get it? MAGIC!
The “Sell out without being a sellout” quote From Week 1: MAGIC!’s famous song “Rude” was influenced by reggae music. But in a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Nasri said he decided to stop making pop music later in his career. “I stopped caring about being famous — I only cared about being good at music,” he said at the time. It could be what the "sellout" quote is about.
Matthew Morrison & Kevin McHale
On the season 5 premiere, panelist Nicole Scherzinger guessed that two Glee stars such as Matthew Morrison and Kevin McHale could have been inside the Russian Dolls. It was one of her better guesses, considering a couple clues pointed to the Russian Dolls being singers who cover other musicians. It was a thin theory, but not totally out of the question.
“A Russian doll can sometimes have 15 replicas of itself” — The Cluedle-Doo clue from Week 1: The “replicas” part of this hint could have pointed to singers who perform other artist’s songs. Glee is famous for updating hit songs.
Mizfitz toy store From Week 1: The bigger Russian doll referred to himself in the clue package as the “world’s hottest toy” before a “mizfitz toy store” sign was shown. Glee focused on a group of outcasts, or misfits, from different cliques coming together in one club.
This story will continue to be updated as more clues are revealed on The Masked Singer.