'RuPaul's Drag Race' Yields Impressive Streaming Boosts For Whitney Houston, Ariana Grande & Dolly Parton
Hot on the heels of eight Emmy nominations, the "RuPaul's Drag Race" team has more news to celebrate.
A week after her win on season nine finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sasha Velour tweeted that there was a 650 percent bump in Spotify streams of Whitney Houston’s “So Emotional” -- a song she memorably lip synced to in the June 23 finale. (On Drag Race, contestants are eliminated following a lip sync competition between the week’s two lowest-scoring competitors. The face-off is loving dubbed “lip sync for your life.”)
Not only can Billboard confirm “So Emotional’s” spike, but we researched all of the ninth season’s lip sync for your life songs to see how each was received across all streaming services in the U.S. -- for both audio and video, combined -- in the week following their respective performance.
The percentage gain of “So Emotional” (up 510 percent across all audio and video streaming services in the week ending on June 29, according to Nielsen Music) was bested by another song performed on the show: After Farrah Moan and Alexis Michelle battled it out to Dolly Parton’s “Baby I’m Burning,” the song saw a combined 2,114 percent increase across all audio and video on-demand streaming services in the U.S. in the week ending on May 18.
The song may have sent Farrah packing but she was still excited to hear the news: “That's absolutely amazing. I never thought that would happen. But I love Dolly Parton and that makes me extremely happy.”
Other songs saw significant spikes in streams after their appearance on the show: "It's Not Right But It's Okay" by Houston increased by 190 percent (week ending June 29), RuPaul’s “U Wear It Well” increased by 154 percent (week ending June 15), “Greedy” by Ariana Grande increased by 118 percent (week ending May 25) and CeCe Peniston’s “Finally” increased by 104 percent (week ending May 11).
The show also created some other notable sales bumps. “Greedy” saw an impressive 936 percent jump in downloads, but sold a relative handful of copies (2,000). “So Emotional” also sold 2,000 in the week of its performance (up 933 percent), while “It’s Not Right” got a boost of 661 percent (to 1,000 sold). “Woman Up” by Meghan Trainor gained 329 percent (to 1,000 downloads), while “Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato also rose 199 percent (to 1,000 sold). It’s notable that Trainor appeared as a guest judge the week her song was performed.
This news of sales and streaming increases comes after other big news for Drag Race; it garnered seven Emmy Award nominations (announced on July 13), including its first nomination for outstanding reality competition. Drag Race’s companion after-show Untucked is also up for an award. Prior to this year’s announcement, Drag Race -- which debuted in 2009 -- had only been nominated for three Emmys. It’s host and namesake RuPaul took home last year’s award for outstanding host for a reality competition program.
For a comprehensive look at streaming bumps across all audio and video on-demand services in the U.S. for the week after each song’s appearance on season nine of Drag Race, check out the list below. Spikes in sales were deemed negligible unless previously mentioned.
"Love Shack" by The B-52s - 384,000 streams, up 25 percent in the week ending April 6. (Jaymes Mansfield vs Kimora Blac)
"Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler - 528,000 streams, up 10 percent in the week ending April 13. (Aja vs Kimora Blac)
"I Wanna Go" by Britney Spears - 240,000 streams, up 16 percent in the week ending April 20. (Charlie Hides vs Trinity Taylor)
"Woman Up" by Meghan Trainor - 148,000 streams, up 69 percent in the week ending April 27. (Cynthia Lee Fontaine vs Farrah Moan)
"Music" by Madonna - 81,000 streams, up 33 percent in the week ending May 4. (Cynthia Lee Fontaine vs Peppermint)
"Finally" by CeCe Peniston - 173,000 streams, up 104 percent in the week ending May 11. (Aja vs Nina Bo’Nina Brown)
"Baby I'm Burning" by Dolly Parton - 37,000 streams, up 2114 percent in the week ending May 18. (Alexis Michelle vs Farrah Moan)
"Greedy" by Ariana Grande - 743,000 streams, up 118 percent in the week ending May 25. (Nina Bo’Nina Brown vs Valentina)
"Cool for the Summer" by Demi Lovato - 790,000 streams, up 22 percent in the week ending June 1. (Nina Bo’Nina Brown vs Shea Couleé)
"Macho Man" by The Village People - 93,000 streams, up 28 percent in the week ending June 8. (Alexis Michelle vs Peppermint)
"U Wear It Well" by RuPaul - 23,000 streams, up 154 percent in the week ending June 15. (The entire top four competed: Shea Couleé, Peppermint, Trinity Taylor and Sasha Velour)
"Stronger" by Britney Spears - 185,000 streams, up 21 percent in the week ending June 29. (Peppermint vs Trinity Taylor)
"So Emotional" by Whitney Houston - 375,000 streams, up 510 percent in the week ending June 29. (Sasha Velour vs Shea Couleé)
"It's Not Right But It's Okay" by Whitney Houston - 427,000 streams, up 190 percent in the week ending June 29. (Sasha Velour vs Peppermint)
Check out our Spilling the Tea series, starring Derrick Barry, Manila Luzon, Mariah Balenciaga, Pandora Boxx and Willam below.