Having been a long time Ru Paul drag race fan for the longest time some of my favourite episodes have been the ones on which the queens have to perform in a musical style challenge. This involves writing and performing original lyrics as well as theme looks to fit the song. In this list, I will be ranking my top 5 Ru Paul’s drag race songs from the normal series of the show (all of which are available on Spotify!) So start your engines and may the best song … win!
5. Oh No she better don’t (cast of season 6)
Season 6 was a cast filled with the most diversity when considering types of drag and personalities. You have the likes of the over-the-top unbelievably flamboyant personality of Laganja Estranja to the new wave fashion of Milk to the bitter old lady and quick wit of Bianca Del Rio. The entire episode was based on 90s rap music with the runway themed “Crazy, Sexy, Cool” based on the TLC album, and thus the musical performance was also in this rap theme. It was interesting to see how the contrasting personality would work with this challenge and if the queens would be able to perform in this theme while incorporating some of their own personalities. The song itself provides surprising performances from Joslyn Fox and BenDeLaCreme as well as the ‘usual suspects’ of Adore, Bianca and Courtney Acts. The problem is these great performances are eclipsed by many of the other not so great verses. Milk and Langanja’s verse are so ridiculously over the top and, in my opinion, didn’t fit at all with the 90s rap theme. Darienne’s verse that was supposed to be empowering for the big girls watching fell totally flat and didn’t match the energy of the rest of the performances. The biggest issue with this song, for me, was Trinity K. Bonet verse as it was incredibly difficult to understand the beginning of her verse. This was brought up in the episode where she tries to justify it by saying that’s just how she speaks and rap isn’t about perfect pronunciation. While this is totally correct and valid the whole verse becomes invalid if you can’t understand what the rapper is saying as that is the point of these songs. Bringing your personality and fitting the genre is fantastic but the lyrics are one of the most important things and if they can’t be understood then it’s useless in my opinion.
4. I’m that bitch/you don’t know me (cast of season 12)
I was so excited when it was announced that the much anticipated season 12 would open with two musical performances! I have grouped these two songs together as one they were apart of a joint opening of the season and while I personally prefer you ‘You Don’t Know Me’ as it is more very musical-theatre inspired fossè number which I really enjoy whereas ‘I’m That Bitch’ is more of a rap based number. Both songs intentions were for performers to really inject their personalities into the lyrics and performances which in my opinion is a fantastic way to start the series and allows the audience to get to know the queens which were done perfectly on this episode. I think this is the best way to start a series and was done excellently in both episodes. These numbers contained incredible performances for Widow Von Du whose lyrics were a fitting tribute to bigger girls which was much more empowering than Darienne’s verse in ‘Oh No She Better Don’t.’ Additionally, her and Heidi (N closet, almighty, Who or whatever name she is choosing to go by now) contorting, flipping and splitting across the stage was a spectacle to watch in I’m That Bitch. In ‘You Don’t Know Me’ Jan and, controversially, Sherry Pies performances were wonderfully over-the-top with Jan showcasing her range of skills. Sherry performing a wonderfully camp character was very fun and entertaining to watch. However, the obviously auto-tuned verse of Nicky Doll in “I’m That Bitch” is very distracting to listen too. Deliah’s verse is filled with self-acknowledged lies and didn’t accurately represent who she is a performer which is the whole point of these challenges. Both these disappointing verses stop these songs being ranked higher in this list but the positioning of these songs in the season worked perfectly!
3. Queens Everywhere (cast of season 11)
Having this dance/electronic-based number at the end of the season ensures that the highest level of performance is obtained and that the queens left should be the best of the best. When I hear ‘Queens everywhere’ it does make me want to get up and dance and is perfect to be played nightclubs as it gets everyone hyped up. Yet again this song contains an ode to bigger people which is written and performed by Silky Nutmeg Ganache who’s performance involved her bursting out of a toilet cubicle. Where her performance was as precise and technically perfect her energy and passion more than makes up for it. However, I was very disappointed by Vanje in this number as she had played up all season how she used to be a dancer but also had a passion of rap but in the actual performance her lip-syncing was below par and her dancing was just okay. I had extremely high hopes for Vanje but this number crashed then totally and I am still unsure as to why she bombed this challenge so badly. The other queens that disappointed me were Brooklyn Hytes despite her incredible flawless ballet and Pole dancing her lyrics/outfit didn’t particularly fit with the electronic theme of the number. A highlight of this number is Yvie Oddleys unique lyrics and choreography in the episode which really harked by to Sasha Velour’s Iconic verse in ‘Category Is.’
2. America (Cast of Season 10)
The song American is one of the most political songs to have ever come out from the Ru Paul’s Drag Race franchise! The premise is that despite being different, fundamentally everyone is the same and share their love of and passion for America. I personally would have enjoyed a British based version of the Song when the UK version of Drag race was aired but something’s are just not meant to be. This song was used as the deciding factor as to which queens will appear in the finale and so the stakes were high and my god those queens performed this cover of Ru’s song. Surprisingly, the eventual winner of the season Aquaria took this challenge in her stride and despite being pegged as a ‘fashion queen’ was able to write and perform unique lyrics but did somewhat miss the sense of unity the other verses had. Asia O’Hara’s lyrics were extremely emotional as she had crammed her verse with deep imagery that had most of the judges of the episodes praising her relatability. Kameron Michaels performed her intrigue and precise choreography flawlessly alongside her backup dancers which made for an incredible spectacle to watch. Eureka’s verse was another empowerment to bigger people while branding herself as the elephant queens which balanced a fun sense of camp with a deep message behind it. Each of the four queens had written meaningful lyrics that worked together to form this empowering song!
Honourable mention: Can I get an Amen
This song opened up with Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese both of which are famously NOT singers and this really sets the tone for the whole number but I can’t help loving it just because of the iconicness of it all. Jynx Monsoon and Ivy Winters delivered an incredible vocal performance in their respective verses but the whole number lacked the energy and any movement at all which stops it from appearing in this list!
1. Category Is (cast of season 9)
What did you really expect! The wickedly twisted verse delivered by Sasha Velour will remain in Drag Race ‘her’-story as the perfect example as to how to inject your personality into a musical number while still entertaining viewers. Peppermint spelling out her name is iconic! Lyrics that reflect her namesake is legendary! Her telling everyone she may look sweet but she will “take it to the streets” that makes you feel both threatened and impressed is genius! Shea Coulee showcasing here rapping skills while singing in about getting what she wants was phenomenal and her outfit in this number was also flawless and most important matched her lyrics. I mean Trinity verse did represent her and was somewhat comical but this is the only verse that stops Category is being the perfect musical number. This number is energetic, flawlessly transitions from performers and styles with ease and when played in nightclub across the world everyone loses their minds! This truly set the standard the musical numbers in Drag Race and there isn’t much to say about it than Bravo to those involved!