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(GIF courtesy of World of Wonder)
No tea, no shade, no pink lemonade: Spike TV’s Lip Sync Battle is good clean fun, but no one, and I mean no one, lip-syncs like the good queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Seriously, these gurls have to lip-sync for their lives. FOR THEIR LIVES! And sometimes they even have to perform in front of the musical artists that originated the songs.
That’s some serious pressure, so it’s not surprising that Drag Race contestants do sometimes fail to heed Ru’s advice, and do in fact “f— it up.” But when they werk it out, they prove that they really have charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent.
To commemorate this week’s announcement of the RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 2 cast, let’s take a look at the most memorable Drag Race lip-syncs of all time. In the words of All-Stars 2 cast member Adore Delano, party! And in the words of Shangela, halleloo! You. Betta. Watch. (WARNING: Some of the videos below contain profanity.)
13. India Ferrah vs. Mimi Imfurst, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (Season 3)
This definitely was NOT one of the better Drag Race battles, but it deserves a mention because it will forever live in infamy for that scary moment when the loud, brash, and confrontational Mimi violently flipped a freaked-out, shrieking India over her shoulder. Not cool. “Drag is not a contact sport,” RuPaul scolded, before ordering Mimi to sashay away.
12. Chi Chi DeVayne, “And I Am Telling You” (Season 8)
Thorgy Thor was one of my favorites last season, and I was rooting for her to jazzercize her way all the way to the finale. But then she went up against Chi Chi, and even I could not deny the power of Miss DeVayne’s passionate, divalicious performance. There was no way Season 8 was living without Chi Chi, after this tour de force.
11. Detox, “Take Me Home” (Season 5)
Detox, who will be on All-Stars 2, debuted her patented jaw-wiggle during this fun number and delivered a Cher impression that could impress even Chad Michaels, the “professional.” Maybe the chin thing was a gimmick, but it was a brilliant gimmick.
10. Jinkx Monsoon, “Malambo No. 1” (Season 6)
Yma Sumac and burlesque queen/future champ Jinkx go together like water and duck’s back. It’s no wonder that this song has become a regular part of Jinkx’s live revues.
9. Carmen Carrera vs. Raja, “Straight Up” (Season 3)
Carmen ignored judge Michelle Visage’s advice and kept relying on that body — and what a fantastic body it was, so who could blame her? Future Season 3 winner Raja, queen of the runway, didn’t miss a beat or blink a false eyelash when her fellow Heather stripped almost completely naked during this Paula Abdul song. Straight up, this was kind of sexy.
8. Jujubee, “Black Velvet” (Season 2)
I detest this tired old Alannah Myles one-hit wonder, and I hate whenever any contestant covers it on any singing competition. But Juju’s version was so incredibly fierce, she made me a fan. Jujubee did “Black Velvet” with that slow Southern style — and a whole lot of scenery-chewing flair. (Side note: R.I.P. Sahara Davenport, who lost to this very worthy opponent, and died in 2012.) WATCH IT HERE.
7. Adore Delano, “Vibeology” (Season 6)
Before Adore Delano was Adore Delano, she was Danny Noriega, the sassy emo teen of American Idol Season 7. And when original Idol judge Paula Abdul guest-judged Drag Race, she recognized Danny/Adore right away, despite the fact that Adore was wearing a Hannibal Lechter-style mask and enough jewelry to fill an entire new Paula Abdul QVC collection. This was the perfect setup by those genius World of Wonder producers to get Adore to lip-sync a song by old pal Paula (the “most lip-synched artist in Drag Race herstory”) and create some amazing TV. Thankfully, Adore made it much farther on Drag Race than Danny had on Idol. She may even win All-Stars 2.
6. Roxxxy Andrews, “Whip My Hair” (Season 5)
Usually I hate it when a queen breaks character and tears off her wig onstage. But in the case of Roxxxy, who had a backup lace-front ready to go, it was a genius move. This Willow Smith lip-sync had everyone’s hair standing on end! Incidentally, in a recent Yahoo Music interview, RuPaul Ru-vealed that this was his favorite Drag Race lip-sync of all time. Let’s see if Roxxxy reprises this signature move on All-Stars 2.
5. Ginger Minj & Sasha Belle, “I Think We’re Alone Now” (Season 7)
The “Conjoined Queens” challenge this season gave comedy queen Ginger (paired with fellow contestant Sasha) the ultimate opportunity to do one of the funniest lip-syncs ever — to a Tiffany song, yet. Ginger, who will be on All-Stars 2, definitely doubled viewers’ pleasure, and she proved she is an amazing physical comedienne. WATCH IT HERE.
4. Dida Ritz, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” (Season 4)
Dida didn’t go very far in her season, but she made a major impression on guest judge Natalie Cole (R.I.P.) when she performed Natalie’s own classic song, right in front of the R&B legend. Dida was serving up some Whitney-in-The Bodyguard realness here. I barely even remember who else was onstage. (It was the Princess, FYI.)
3. Manila Luzon, “MacArthur Park” (Season 3)
Manila was always the perfect blend of fishy beauty and crazy comedy. Only she could ugly-cry in a Big Bird dress, go all cross-eyed to “MacArthur Park,” and still look gorgeous. A Drag Race moment like this only comes once in a lifetime. We’ll never have that recipe again. WATCH IT HERE.
2. Raven vs. Jujubee, “Dancing on My Own” (All-Stars Season)
Drag Race has had many touching and tragic moments, from Alyssa Edwards’s reunion with her estranged father to Roxxxy’s confession about her childhood bus stop abandonment to Yara Sofia’s onstage meltdown. This battle was another tearjerker. Season 2 runners-up Raven and Jujubee were so distraught over having to go up against each other in the All-Stars season, they could barely make it through this bittersweet Robyn song. It showed what a bond these queens really share. RuPaul couldn’t even bear to send anyone home; neither contestant sashayed away that week.
1. Latrice Royale, “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman” (Season 4)
Many of the most memorable Drag Race lip-syncs have been flashy, silly, or sexy, but Season 4’s Miss Congeniality stole the show just by standing completely still. As Kenya Michaels desperately flailed around her, Latrice stayed strong, cradled her prosthetic pregnant belly, and delivered a moving performance that made her the Aretha Franklin of Drag Race. Latrice will always be an all-star in my book.
RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 2 premieres on Logo Aug. 25.