Hello hello hello! Hold onto your wig, glue down your lashes and start yo’ engines, because today I’m talking RuPaul’s Drag Race…
For those of you who may not be aware, the end of every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race culminates in an epic lip sync battle where competing drag queens go head to head to secure their place in the competition (except for All Stars 2 & 3, where the top queens contend for the chance to decide who to send home). The battles are notoriously explosive and colourful; a spectacle of all manner of stunts from wig reveals to jump spilts and the timeless death drop.
As you would expect from a show about drag queens, the song choices are always delightful. There’s an eclectic mix of the campy athems you’d expect, plus veteran classics and undiscovered gems. You only have to scroll through the top YouTube comments on any song that featured on Drag Race to understand the impact being featured on the show can have.
RuPaul’s Drag Race has been going for 9 seasons now (plus 3 seasons of All Stars), but you’d be surprised how many perhaps obvious songs haven’t featured yet. No doubt the creators have saved some of the greats for the upcoming 10th season.
Either way, I thought it would be fun to list the songs I think would make for unmissable lip sync performances. Let’s see if any appear in the season of All Stars that’s currently premiering!
[NOTE: there are some really obvious ones I haven’t included (sorry Mariah, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé) – not because I don’t want to see them performed on Drag Race, but just because I wanted to talk about some less predictable choices!]
1. Me Against The Music – Britney Spears ft. Madonna
Ok, let’s start with an obvious shall we? I mean, two icons in a pedal-to-the-metal standoff? Plus, we know Ru loves to test the girls with the occasional rapid-fire lyric breakdown (Cold Hearted Snake, This Will Be (An Everlasting Love), and Me Against The Music is certainly a challenge with: “I want to get stupid/Trying to take my music/It’s like a competition/Me against the beat” part. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, it’s totally manageable to sing both Britney & Madonna’s parts. Trust me, I’ve tried it.
2. Maneater – Nelly Furtado
00’s pop at its fiiiinest. I have absolutely no doubt that this darkly seductive number would make for an excellent performance, somewhat of a sequel to Adore & Trinity’s Vibeology on Season 6.
3. That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain
Ok so I think you’re all more than familiar with my Shania obsession by now (if not, read Artists That Soundtracked My 2017), but IMAGINE the sass potential with this. Sure, Man! I Feel Like A Woman is the more obvious choice, but overdone in the drag circuit. I can just see the strutting on that main stage to ‘ok, so you got a car?‘, and it’s getting me so hyped.
Also, major split jump/death drop opportunity in that little break between the guitar riff and the spoken ‘that don’t impress me much’.
4. Fighter – Christina Aguileria
You know what makes a Drag Race lip sync battle particularly intense? When the lyrics just so happen to articulate the desperation and determination the queens are feeling as they fight to impress Ru and keep their spot in the competition (Chi Chi vs Thorgy And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going comes to mind). Because whilst they make for excellent entertainment, that’s what the lip sync battles are – a fight.
Shockingly, we’ve not seen a lip sync to a Xtina song on the show yet. But I can bet that’s about to change soon.
5. 1991/Van Vogue – Azealia Banks
From Azealia’s inclusion of a spoken Franklin Fuentes sample on ‘Fierce’ from the 2012 Fantasea mixtape to her irresistible signature house beats, her music would seem the perfect match for Drag Race. However, after the controversy of RuPaul’s Call Me Mother sounding a liiiittle too similar to Banks’s ‘Big Big Beat’ (listen to the tracks here and decide for yourself), I doubt Azealia’s going to be letting Drag Race use any of her tracks on the show anytime soon. Still, it would be very cool to see coupla queens choreo the haus dowwwn to either 1991 or Van Vogue.
6. Get Right – Jennifer Lopez
Consider Jennifer Lopez added to the list of ‘Divas You’d Think Have Had Their Songs Performed On Drag Race But They Haven’t’. I did originally have the classic Love Don’t Cost A Thing down, but Get Right is so high energy I had to include it.
7. Cut To The Feeling – Carly Rae Jepsen
*insert gonna give the gays everything they want gif here*. If you weren’t already aware that Carly Rae Jepsen’s portfolio of #certifiedpopbangers extends beyond ‘Call Me Maybe‘, consider this an education. I defy anyone not to fist pump and leap into the air when that cavernous chorus kicks in. And whilst we’re fist pumping and flinging ourselves around, imagine what a drag queen could do. Again, major stunt potential with this one. I’m talking triple death-drop wig reveal costume reveal jump split.
8. Outta Here – Esmée Denters
How did we let this anthem fade into 2009 obscurity? Outta Here is impassioned, feisty and upbeat – aka all the makings of a sickening main stage performance. And that slow breakdown at the bridge…I can just see the floorwork to quick recovery.
9. Poison – Nicole Scherzinger
When my friend Ali reminded me how badass Poison is, we agreed it would make a fantastic lipsync performance. We actually ended up seeing it lipsynced by a queen at a local drag night, and I can confirm that it was everything we’d dreamt and more. Between that imposing digitised intro riff, badass WO-man lyrics and staccato delivery in the chorus lead-up, Poison needs to be lipsynced on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Nicole Scherzinger has already been a guest judge on the show, so perhaps she could return to see this performed on the main stage?
10. Do What U Want – Lady Gaga ft. Christina Aguileria
Another diva duet I’m still pinching myself to remember that actually happened. Though Gaga & Christina are doing the whole ‘sisters supporting sisters’ thang (especially when they performed it together on The Voice), Do What U Want can easily be performed as a competitive showdown.
11. Love’s Unkind – Donna Summer
We’ve already seen 2 Donna Summer songs lipsynced on Drag Race (Bad Girls & the unforgettable MacArthur Park), and again there are more obvious song choices (Hot Stuff, I Feel Love). But with its fun disco vibe and lyrics telling of unrequited love, I think Love’s Unkind would make for a pretty good lip sync!
12. What You Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani
Come to think of it, I feel like Gwen would make a great guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. What You Waiting For? has the kind of high octane, chaotic vibe that would be hypnotic to watch.
13. Lose My Breath – Destiny’s Child
*waits for RPDR to feature a Destiny’s Child song* It’s imminent. I can feel it. Surely by now we’re due a Destiny’s Child lipsync? Survivor was my first choice, but with a music video that featured one of the most epic backstreet girlband dance-offs known to mankind, Lose My Breath has lipsync sass-off written aaaall over it.
14. Maria – Blondie
We have been treated to 2 Blondie lip sync battles already, but WE WANT MORE. Maria has so much potential; from the measured, narrative delivery of the verses, to the empassioned cries of the chorus. And don’t forget those drum fills that are just asking for a death drop…Maria my dear, shantay you stay.
15. Yes Sir, I Can Boogie – Baccara
It was actually Ms Valentina who reminded me how great this song was when I stumbled across this video of her serving all kinds of 70s glamour whilst performing it. An #aesthetic indeed. The RuPaul’s Drag Race stage is notoriously fond of 70s disco, from The Village People’s Macho Man (Alexis Michelle vs Peppermint, Season 9) to Amii Stewart’s Knock On Wood (Alexis Mateo vs Stacey Lane Matthews, Season 3) and Chic’s Le Freak (Alaska vs Katya, All Stars Season 2). Here’s hoping this Baccara hit gets added to that list!
16. Tambourine – Eve
Eve’s another artist who’s been a guest judge on Drag Race, but didn’t get to see her song performed on the show (I don’t know about you, but if I was a musician I would literally consider it the highest privilege if my song was featured on Drag Race). Tambourine would give a queen the opportunity to showcase some serious rap skills, whilst the chorus leaves plenty of room for well, shaking ya *tambourine*.
17. Big Girls Don’t Cry – Fergie
From the chick who taught us how to spell G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, comes this belter of a pop ballad. My list is somewhat lacking on the slower songs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a heartfelt ballad on Drag Race. Some of the most memorable performances have been soulful, more deliberate numbers (I mean, Latrice Royale X Aretha Franklin or Raven vs JuJubee’s Dancing On My Own…the E.M.O.SHUNS honey). Hentyways, I’d love to see Big Girls Don’t Cry inducted into that category, particularly if there were actual tears involved. Let the emotions run high.
18. Slow – Kylie Minogue
I’ve been on a real Kylie hype off late, and it’s all because of a certain Season 8 lipsync. Considering Miss Minogue’s undisputed Pop Icon status, it’s surprising that’s the only time Drag Race has used one of her songs. Again, we’re spoilt for choice but I’ve eventually settled on Slow. My reasoning? 1) It’s a #certifiedpopbanger 2) More steam on the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race, plz (dare I even mention the words Straight Up?). And if any song’s going to bring the sex appeal, it’s got to be this addictive number.
19. Frozen – Madonna
Whilst we’re on the subject of pop royalty, let’s talk Madge shall we? Of the 4 Madonna songs that have been performed on RuPaul’s Drag Race, 3 have been from 1987-1990 (Causing A Commotion, Express Yourself & Vogue), with 2000’s Music being the most recent of her hits to be featured on the show. That leaves a nice niche for the 90s Ray of Light era. I chose the foreboding Frozen. Whilst it could be considered an unconventional choice for Madonna, there’s still plenty of scope to amp up the theatrics in a lip sync for the gawwwds.
20. Voulez Vous – ABBA
I already did my 70s disco speil back at #15, but drag queens without Swedish pop royalty? @ RDPR producers, give the people what we want and deserve!!!! I quite like when Drag Race features lesser-well known hits from a star (like with I Was Gonna Cancel – Kylie Minogue), so when it came to picking an ABBA song, I went with Voulez Vous.
21. The Boy Is Mine – Brandy & Monica
From 70s disco to 90s R&B, there are just some genres and eras that work especially well on a RuPaul’s Drag Race lipsync. Like Do What U Want & Me Against The Music, here we have an off-the-shelf, ready to go faceoff duet that’s bound to bring the drama.
22. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
I defy anyone to try not to sing along to this. This is definitely one of those intensely emotional numbers where it’s all in the face, hunty. Deliver those feelings. SHOW those judges they’re a little late, you’re already torn.
23. Venus Fly – Grimes ft. Janelle Monae
Kill V. Maim has already proven it’s voguing potential by way of current All Stars 3 contestant, Aja, but that’s not the only Grimes song that would make for a slick lip sync performance! From its militant beat to screech-sung lyrics that are a rallying cry for female artists everywhere, Venus Fly would make a dream of a lip sync.
24. Russian Roulette – Rihanna
The last time a Rihanna song was performed on RuPaul’s Drag Race, we were blessed with reaction gif golddust from Carson Kressley, unintentional ying & yang lewks and some of the most in-sync choreo to grace the main stage. Since Alyssa & Tatianna turned it out with their performance of Shut Up & Drive, I’ve been thirrrstay for more RiRi slayage. Don’t try and tell me you’ve never gone all out with a lip sync performance to Russian Roulette. Give me all of the pained facial expressions as you belt out this chorus.
25. Whenever, Wherever – Shakira
Where 👏🏽 is 👏🏽 the👏🏽 Shakira👏🏽 representation👏🏽 on 👏🏽 RuPaul’s 👏🏽 Drag 👏🏽 Race? Pan pipes, yodelling and the lyric ‘lucky that my breasts are small and humble/so you don’t confuse them with mountains’. For comedy and choreo queens alike, there’s a chance for every queen to make this song their own.