NUNN ON THE RUN
Lip Singing for Your Life
Sat. May 8, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn
With the 1992 song "Supermodel (You Better Work)" drag performer RuPaul Charles burst onto the music scene and set the bar high for generations of queens to come. This was a time when grunge music was popular, so for a tall, Black drag artist from Atlanta, Georgia in a white wig to redefine what it means to be a hit singer was quite radical. Now 14 albums later, Charles smartly continues to use a music component throughout his Emmy Award winning show RuPaul's Drag Race.
Not only is RuPaul's new music regularly featured, but challenges for the contestants sometimes require singing while performing special songs on various episodes. After Drag Race is over, many past performers have pursued music with a few hits and many more misses, sorry sis.
After interviewing Laganja Estranja from season six of RPDR, I noticed some really catchy music from Estranja's catalogue. I was already a fan of the same season's contestant Adore Delano. Delano had competed on the seventh season of American Idol in the past, so brought that seasoned background to the runway. At this point in Drag Race, performers had learned how big their platform would be around the world and were ready to sell products with this newfound fame.
Many of the queens cleverly used an original song to introduce themselves to the stage during live shows to work their fans into a frenzy. Past winner Jinkx Monsoon often sings live, like a concert, instead of lip synching and everyone should definitely see Shangela Laquifa sell her "Werqin' Girl (Professional)" in front of a crowd once their life.
Season seven's Trixie Mattel stood out from the pack by not only taking a risk with folk music, but by also playing several instruments including the harpsichord. He nailed a cover of the Violent Femmes track "Blister in the Sun" :
Sometimes a remix can save a song, such as Bob the Drag Queen's "Purse First," re-werqued by Mitch Ferrino, who also does a fine job on Aja's "Brujeria," while some just keep it simple such as the case of Monet X Change's sickening song "Beyonce."
The Vixen snatched a trophy for using strong Chicago beats for "Tea Party" and latest season 13 contestant Tamisha Iman uses a similiar house background while overlapping quotes from Drag Race throughout the single.
There are many misfires by RuPaul Drag Race performers though that range from the bizarre to the boring. Katya tried to encourage meditation with Vampire Fitness and Courtney Act, who was another American Idol contestant, isn't memorable in the strange tone of her tunes.
Blair St. Clair has awkward lyrics and Tammie Brown's "Porta Potty Prostitute" only works for a Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel. Many of them try to rap or slip into a chant like Violet Chachki bad "Bettie" or Miss Fame's epic fail "Rubber Doll." Manila Luzon does this on "Hot Couture" then hides behind a voice modulator. Some of them honestly shouldn't sing, but I will limit the shade on this sunny day.
Group numbers such a Frock Destroyers "Break Up (Bye Bye)" will quickly be stuck in your head, but The AAA Girls "American Apparel Ad Girls" just doesn't work with the talented trio of Alaska, Willam and Courtney Act.
Slower jams have been a tough sell with Ginger Minj's bluesy "Dream a Little Dream" or Jujubee's sleepy "Don't Wanna Love" and might be painful in a club performance setting. After a few cocktails though, you might be crying for more. Who knows?
While it is easy to read the large catalogue of musical work, when the library is open, all of them deserve 10s across the board for making an effort during their possible 15 minutes of fame. Hopefully, before RuPaul runs the last race, the best musician will win by making a number one song that catapults them into the stratosphere of the music world, because Miss Charles "dones already had herses!"