Pride

The 15 Best Lip Syncs in 'RuPaul's Drag Race' Herstory

RuPaul's Drag Race
Courtesy of VH1

Alyssa Edwards (left) and Coco Montrese square off during season 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race.

Over the 10 years that it has been on television, a lot has changed about RuPaul’s Drag Race. “Immunity” rules have been scrapped, mini challenges have become less important, spin-off shows and tours have sprung up, and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars has become a phenomenon.

But one essential part of the show has remained — at the end of every episode, two queens stand on stage and lip sync for their lives.

Sure, sometimes the rules and stakes surrounding the lip syncs change (All Stars 2 & 3 introduced us to a new “Lip Sync for Your Legacy” format), but the standards have stayed the same — perform at your best, or get off the stage.

There have been over 100 lip syncs performed on the show thus far, so the question remains -- which performances bring the perfect blend of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent? Billboard Pride has put together a definitive list of the 15 best lip syncs in the herstory of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

15. Ginger Minj & Sasha Belle vs. Jaidynn Diore Fierce & Tempest DuJour, “I Think We’re Alone Now” — Season 7, Episode 8

80. Ginger Minj & Sasha Belle vs. Jaidynn Diore Fierce & Tempest DuJour - I Think We're Alone Now pic.twitter.com/bQzTteKAnb

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

Kicking off our list is a lip sync that was a Drag Race first — the first on-stage mastectomy in the show’s history. The queens performing had conjoined twins to deal with, and while Jaidynn and Tempest worked out their song while attached back-to-front, Ginger and Sasha decided to free themselves when Minj pulled out a pair of scissors and cut off their conjoined breasts. This was a surefire win for Ginger, and one of the funniest and most entertaining lip syncs to watch.

14. Morgan McMichaels vs. Sonique, “Two of Hearts” — Season 2, Episode 4

11. Morgan McMichaels vs. Sonique - Two of Hearts pic.twitter.com/6D40KOLzmA

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 22, 2017

There is an unofficial rule in the various lip syncs on RuPaul’s Drag Race; don’t try to just dance your way out of a lip sync. The face off between Morgan and Sonique is one of the early examples of what can go wrong (or in the audience’s case, so right) when you rely on your dance skills rather than your lip sync talent. Sonique was impressive -- not too many queens who could do that many back handsprings in a row and look so good doing them. But Morgan’s ability to dance and get all of her words right catapulted her into a well-deserved win for this tremendous lip sync.

13. Chi Chi DeVayne vs. Thorgy Thor, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” — Season 8, Episode 7

91. Chi Chi DeVayne vs. Thorgy Thor - And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going pic.twitter.com/ecxXYtGQgK

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

There was one piece of advice Bob the Drag Queen gave to his fellow queens in Untucked about lip syncing to this song: “Think about how sad you’ll feel going home and then use it.” Chi Chi DeVayne was clearly listening. The dancing diva of season 8 took her time and conveyed every emotion in this song, even at one point breaking her jewelry and letting beads spill all over the stage. Meanwhile, Thorgy… did a cartwheel. It was clear at the end of this one who was the winner, as Chi Chi gave the most stunning performance in her Drag Race career.

12. Nina Bo’Nina Brown vs. Valentina, “Greedy” — Season 9, Episode 9

109a. Nina Bo'nina Brown vs. Valentina - Greedy (Take 1) pic.twitter.com/UpY57hQ06s

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) May 21, 2017

Before you sharpen your pitchforks, hear me out — while this iconic lip sync from season 9 was perhaps one of the most shocking moments in the show’s herstory, the lip sync itself is not deserving of a spot in the top 10. Valentina bombed in this performance, and Nina’s lip sync was solid, but ultimately unmemorable. Still, the gag-worthy moment when RuPaul had to stop the lip sync and ask Valentina to take off her mask catapults this performance above most others.

11. Adore Delano vs. Trinity K. Bonet, “Vibeology” by Paula Abdul — Season 6,  Episode 9

69. Adore Delano vs. Trinity K. Bonet - Vibeology pic.twitter.com/sYYaIMTmzJ

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

This was a matchup that fans didn’t want to see; fan favorite Adore Delano against the season’s lip sync assassin Trinity K. Bonet. Both of these queens slayed the runway with amazing moves and scintillating sexuality. It was a photo finish that saw Adore take Trinity out of the competition, but all parties agreed -- it was the best lip sync in season 6 by far.  

10. Peppermint vs. Trinity Taylor, “Stronger” — Season 9, Episode 14

113. Peppermint vs. Trinity Taylor - Stronger pic.twitter.com/znjdDiEzl4

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) January 26, 2018

This lip sync is a lesson in pacing. Trinity Taylor was pulling out all of the stops at the outset of the Britney song — amazing dance moves, a tear-away to reveal her carefully calculated tuck, the works. But she ran out of tricks early on; Peppermint, on the other hand, held her wig and outfit reveal until the climax of the song, waiting for the absolute perfect moment. This roller coaster of a lip sync kept us on the edge of our seat, and it paid off, too.

9. Latrice Royale vs. Kenya Michaels, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” — Season 4, Episode 10

40. Kenya Michaels vs. Latrice Royale - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman pic.twitter.com/JzZ8ghAKiL

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 22, 2017

Yet another example of why embodying a song rather than dancing your way through it is the way to go. Kenya Michaels was clearly desperate to stay -- on one of the most emotional Aretha Franklin ballads ever, little Kenya threw herself around the stage, showing off her clear talent. But Latrice Royale, in all of her wisdom, knew that standing in place and giving an emotional ode to her unborn (and imaginary) child would bring her to the top. Usually, I'd fault queens for not moving during a lip sync (looking at you, Charlie Hides), but this is the perfect example of doing it right.

8. Kennedy Davenport vs. Katya Zamolodchikova, “Roar” — Season 7, Episode 11

83. Katya vs. Kennedy Davenport - Roar pic.twitter.com/xmatbNMztp

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

This lip sync still has fans debating over who should have gone home. Both Katya and Kennedy worked this song out, with amazing gymnastics and dance moves perfectly timed to the song. At one moment, Kennedy does a jumping split off of the stage, while Katya lands in a split from a back handspring at the same moment. Kennedy ended up winning, a verdict that I personally agree with, but not before getting a true run for her money from Katya.

7. Roxxxy Andrews vs. Alyssa Edwards, “Whip My Hair” — Season 5, Episode 7

55. Alyssa Edwards vs. Roxxxy Andrews - Whip My Hair pic.twitter.com/0MTZqnb8ZA

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

We have two words for you: wig reveal. Yes, this lip sync was heated up by a lot of emotion from Roxxxy’s now-famous bus stop story, and Alyssa Edwards turned out every dance move she had, as always. But the moment Roxxxy Andrews lifted her wig, only to reveal another wig that she proceeded to whip all around the stage was one of the most fierce stunts ever put into a lip sync on Drag Race. Both ended up staying, because how could you possibly send either of these queens home after two absolutely phenomenal performances?

6. Sharon Needles vs. Phi Phi O’Hara, “It’s Raining Men (The Sequel)” — Season 4, Episode 8

38. Phi Phi O'Hara vs. Sharon Needles - It's Raining Men (The Sequel) pic.twitter.com/8HBDvFbDVP

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 22, 2017

The two bitter rivals of season 4 took to the stage, clad in their angel/demon wear respectively, and went to work to eliminate the other. Phi Phi danced until her wig came flying off, while Sharon relied on a campy, hilarious performance of the song to put her over the top. When the song was over, no one knew who was going home. And SURPRISE! Willam got eliminated for cheating! This lip sync had it all — performance, dance, storyline, and a twist ending. Bravo, queens.

5. Dida Ritz vs. The Princess, “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” — Season 4, Episode 3

33. DiDa Ritz vs. The Princess - This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) pic.twitter.com/oqFYi4SGaY

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 22, 2017

Dida Ritz was less concerned about staying in the competition, and more worried about impressing Natalie Cole, the song's original singer, who was sitting across from her on the judges’ panel. And Ms. Cole did not walk away disappointed. The Princess’ performance was … fine. But Dida took that song to a new level, hitting all of her marks right on cue, performing the hell out of the words, and making everyone in that room proud. Latrice Royale said it best: “That is what a lip sync for your life is, baby. That is high drag at it’s finest.”

4. Manila Luzon vs. Delta Work, “MacArthur Park” — Season 3, Episode 8

24. Delta Work vs. Manila Luzon - MacArthur Park pic.twitter.com/dZHdN5w7wW

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 22, 2017

This is a dramatic song, and one that’s not terribly easy to lip sync. At least you would think so, before seeing Manila Luzon go bat shit crazy and slay every part of this lip sync. When it’s slow and tender, Luzon softens and performs with the emotion. The moment the song picks up, so does Manila’s face. It’s melodrama, it’s campy, and it is the most iconic lip sync from Drag Race’s early years. No shade to Delta, she did well, but Manila mopped the floor with this song, and proved that she belonged in the top three.

3. Coco Montrese vs. Alyssa Edwards, “Cold Hearted” — Season 5, Episode 9

57. Alyssa Edwards vs. Coco Montrese - Cold Hearted pic.twitter.com/H5DWnqYWLf

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

The years-long rivalry between Coco and Alyssa came to its head in this lip sync, and it shows. From Alyssa’s helicopter split, to Coco simply pointing at her mouth while she mouthed the rapid-paced lyrics of Paula Abdul, this lip sync is filled to the brim with stunning moments. Both queens had been in the bottom 3 times, both were still angry with one another, and both left everything on the stage. Coco emerged victorious, and our jaws are still agape just thinking about this performance.

2. Sasha Velour vs. Shea Couleé, “So Emotional” — Season 9, Episode 14

114. Sasha Velour vs. Shea Couleé - So Emotional pic.twitter.com/QY1UCiEIJt

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) January 26, 2018

Talk about a twist. Audiences hadn’t seen Sasha Velour lip sync before, so it was immediately assumed that Shea Couleé, the favorite to win season 9, was going to move on to battle it out with Peppermint for the title. But no amount of spins, kicks, or fierce looks could have prepared Shea or the world for Sasha’s brilliantly unhinged performance. That rose petal reveal alone was one of the most inventive, well-timed and wig-snatching moments (see what I did there?) on RuPaul’s Drag Race. This is about as good as it gets when it comes to lip sync artistry. All hail the current reigning.  

1. Alyssa Edwards vs. Tatianna, “Shut Up and Drive” — All Stars Season 2, Episode 5

98. Alyssa Edwards vs. Tatianna - Shut Up & Drive pic.twitter.com/VkGOX8H3ey

— ------------ --?‍-- (@lgbtvelour) March 23, 2017

My favorite moment from this lip sync is all of it. Song choice? Check. Words? Check. Dance moves? Check. Drama? Check. A twist ending? Check. This lip sync embodies what every other lip sync should aim for — two queens working their absolute hardest to get back in the competition, with Mount Everest levels of confidence boosting them to a double win. The costumes somehow weirdly matched, as did their talent. The most shocking part of this lip sync is that RuPaul didn’t just end the competition there and let Tatianna and Alyssa split the All Stars 2 crown.