Gentlemen – or should I say ‘LADS’ – start your engines: Rupaul’s Drag Race UK is here! It’s been a hot minute since I wrote about songs I wanted to see lip-synced on US Drag Race (a post which has since been referenced by Pitchfork, big moment) so with the arrival of Drag Race UK, it seemed only right that I do the same for our very own version.
The United Queendom is after all home to a few hallmarks of queer music culture; from Queen’s barrier-breaking crossdressing in ‘I Want To Break Free’* to the pop powerhouse phenomenon of The Spice Girls. In fact, drag can actually be traced back to Shakespearean times.
Expectations for Drag Race UK are high when it comes to hitting the references, and if the first episode is anything to go by we shouldn’t be disappointed.
*Incidentally, whilst this music video was well received in Britain, it caused more of a controversy with audiences across the pond.
Just two of the songs I mentioned in my US wishlist have been featured on the show, so let’s see if Drag Race UK does any better!
1. About A Girl – Sugababes
JSYK, British girlbands are going to be a recurring theme on this list. I’m starting with this one because it played at Glitterbomb (one of the few, if not only gay nights in Surrey – represent!!!) once and it’s been a mainstay on my S.A.S.S playlist ever since. It embodies everything you want in a drag lipsync number; fierce lyrics, infectious rhythm and a beat break just before the chorus to hit that shablam.
2. Rolling In The Deep (The Aretha Version) – Wideboys Remix
“Why not the original Adele version!!!”, I hear you say? Well, that version has its time and place, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that as far as the Drag Race main stage is concerned, that ain’t it honey. Plus, I like the idea of an iconic US diva covering an equally iconic British singer – very RPDR.
3. Girls Night Out – Charli XCX
It’s fun, it’s bouncy, it’s Chaaaarli baby.
4. Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
I love a high-energy lipsync as much as the next bitch but sometimes – particularly later in the competition – only raw emotion will do. Think Wrecking Ball or Natural Woman. And for Drag Race UK, what better than this anthemic pop #moment from Ms Leona Lewis.
5. I Don’t Care – Cheryl
As an artist, I can’t imagine any higher honour than being invited to guest judge Drag Race AND THEN watch queens perform one of your songs. Let’s hope Cheryl gets to enjoy that honour when she’s a guest judge. This was my pick, just because it’s so fun to sing along to (and reminds me of my friend Sam, shoutout to you boo).
6. Sexy! No No No… – Girls Aloud
Couldn’t mention Cheryl without mentioning Girls Aloud, and my GOD did I struggle to pick just one of their many lip-syncable hits. Short of suggesting the Girls Aloud Megamix, I settled on this punchy number that’s just begging for a six-inch-stiletto-runway stomp.
Special mention to Something Kinda Ooh.
7. Diamonds Are Forever – Shirley Bassey
Did someone say DIVA? Pair this with a matching runway category and I…*chef’s kiss*.
8. Euphoria – Loreen
What does the UK have that our friends across the Atlantic don’t? EUROVISION. An institution of music in its own right, it seems fitting that Drag Race UK pays homage to the inter-nation competition. I’ve seen Euphoria performed (sometimes live!) by many a UK queen to spectacular receptions, and I can imagine similar results on the Drag Race stage.
9. How To Be A Heartbreaker – Marina
Marina’s Electra Heart alter ego era cemented her as a firm queer favourite. This campy number has been referred to as the ‘Old Testament’ to Dua’s ‘New Rules’ – which just happened to be the first Drag Race UK lipsync song.
10. Not Fair – Lily Allen
What makes for a better lipsync song than one with a but of narrative? As Lily laments her inconsiderate lover, there’s plenty of opportunity for a queen to inject some of that British humour that the UK drag scene is so well known for.
11. Let’s Dance – David Bowie
It’s no secret that Ru’s a big Bowie fan, so I think we can expect to see one of his songs pop up as a lip sync number at some point.
12. Broken Heels – Alexandra Burke
Ru once listed Alexandra Burke as a desert island disc, so here’s another artist fans won’t be surprised to see lip synced. Even better if this was paired with some kind of themed runway challenge – along the lines of I Think We’re Alone Now.
13. Power – Little Mix
Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall is a self-confessed Drag Race superfan, so the announcement of her as a guest judge was a long time coming. With Drag Race alumni Alaska, Courtney & Willam all featuring in the music video for ‘Power’, this might be a predictable choice but it’s a solid choice nonetheless.
14. Never Give Up On The Good Times – Spice Girls
One of my favourite things about Drag Race is when the chosen lip sync song isn’t necessarily the artist’s biggest hit. I’m talking Causing A Commotion – Madonna, Best Of Both Worlds – Hannah Montana (over say, I Can’t Be Tamed). For an act as iconic as the Spice Girls, I know this isn’t an obvious choice, but that’s kind of why I love it.
Besides, a real Spice fan would remember the iconic scene where this song features in Spiceworld.
15. Look At Me – Geri Halliwell
With Geri confirmed as a guest judge, maybe that’s the week they’ll do a Spice Girls number. OR, maybe they’ll pay homage to her solo career, which let’s face it gave us some bops. Justice for Mi Chico Latino, but Look At Me has more LSFYL potential.
16. Scandalous – Mis-Teeq
Told you I would give the girl bands love…
17. Superstar – Jamelia
To me, this song is really emblematic of a specific time in music; British chart music specifically.
18. Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush
Can you say CAMPY CHARACTERISATION? There’s so much scope to really perforrrrm this one. If done right, this could give us a lipsync for the history books.
19. Ego – The Saturdays
As far as British girlbands go, I feel like The Saturdays are far too underrated. A recent delve through their back catalogue had me questioning how I didn’t appreciate them more in their hayday. But anyway, let’s give it up for them on the Drag Race UK stage.
20. YES – Louisa
Despite its 2018 release, this track has always given me early 2000’s Xtina vibes in all the right vibes. Plenty of chances for a queen to sass it to the max and SERVEEE.