Over the course of the last 10 years, RuPaul’s Drag Race has redefined what drag means in the modern age, while becoming one of the most popular programs on television. The show has gained its own massive fanbase, permeated popular culture through other shows like Saturday Night Live, and launched the star-studded careers of almost 130 queens.
Drag Race has also spent plenty of time on the show highlighting musical talent, be it from the queens, the panel of celebrity guest judges or RuPaul himself. Especially in its most recent seasons, the show has made constant references to world-famous musicians, while also affording the queens on the show their own opportunities to let their music shine.
In honor of Drag Race’s 10 years on television, here are Billboard Pride’s 50 favorite musical moments from the show.
1. Michelle Williams
The first celebrity guest judge to ever prance onto the main stage of RuPaul’s Drag Race was none other than Destiny’s Child’s own Michelle Williams. Along with taking the queens to task for their looks on the runway, Williams famously appeared to greet the queens in the Werk Room.
2. Tatianna as Britney Spears
Look, we all know that Season 8’s Derrick Berry is one of the most superbly talented Britney impersonators in the world — but her Snatch Game performance failed to wow most thanks to its predictability. It also did not go quite as planned thanks to the high bar set by Tatianna, all the way back in the very first Snatch Game from Season 2. Her impersonation may not have been as “accurate” as Derrick’s, but it was hysterically funny, and Tati deserves props for that.
3. Natalie Cole
We love Ms. Natalie Cole appearing on Drag Race for so many reasons, be it her effortlessly graceful style or her genuine interest in drag. But above all else, it is still a joy to watch the legendary singer bear witness to one of the best lip sync performances in Drag Race herstory: when Dida Ritz slayed Cole’s own “This Will Be.”
4. Chad Michaels as Cher
Of all the celebrity impersonations ever brought to Snatch Game, never has there been one as effortlessly perfect as Chad Michaels’ impression of the Goddess of Pop herself, Cher. He performed multiple wig changes, nailed every single aspect of her voice and made audiences cackle with laughter with a simple shrug and lick of the lips.
5. Alyssa Edwards & Coco Montrese in Black Swan: Why It Gotta Be Black?
It’s clear that Alyssa Edwards makes just about anything great. So when the queens of Season 5 were tasked with creating ballet-style routines about different aspects of the host’s life, audiences knew they were in for a treat when rivals Alyssa and Coco Montrese teamed up for a Swan Lake/Black Swan-inspired act. It was pure magic.
6. Jinkx Monsoon’s Verse in “Can I Get An Amen”
Since her debut on Drag Race, season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon has made an entire music career out of her powerhouse vocals that were on display in this Season 5 “We Are The World”-inspired challenge. Legend has it that if you listen closely, you can still hear Jinkx holding out her long belted note to this day.
7. Georgia Holt & Chaz Bono
Despite constant begging and pleading from fans across the world, pop icon Cher has still never made a guest judging appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race (fingers crossed for Season 11). But in Season 6, the show got the next best thing — Chaz Bono, Cher’s son and former guest judge on the show, and Georgia Holt, Cher’s mother. The two not only served on the panel, but also participated in an talk show interview challenge where the two spilled serious tea.
8. Paula Abdul
As if having Chaz Bono and Georgia Holt weren’t enough for one episode, RuPaul also managed to book Paula Abdul as an esteemed guest judge. The “Cold Hearted” singer was clearly into the show, and even got to witness a legendary lipsync between Adore Delano and Trinity K. Bonet to her hit single “Vibeology.”
9. Adore Delano in Shade: The Rusical
There is no doubting that Adore Delano is one of the most talented singers to ever sashay her way through the Drag Race competition. That fact was on full display when the queen performed in Shade: The Rusical. Her vocals were unmatched by her teammates, making her one of the shining stars of that week’s maxi challenge.
10. Courtney Act in Shade: The Rusical
Fans were absolutely spoiled in the show’s sixth season with not one, but two Idol franchise alumni singing their way through the competition. When Courtney got up on stage for Shade: The Rusical, she stunned the judges with her sheer vocal talent, proving to be a match for Adore’s similarly stellar voice.
11. Olivia Newton-John
Joining the list of stellar guest judges, Grease star Olivia Newton-John strutted onto the set of Drag Race’s seventh season. Along with providing her always-helpful advice to the queens, the singer got to watch fan-favorite Katya get physical in a rousing lip sync rendition of her classic track “Twist of Fate.”
12. Mrs. Kasha Davis in Glamazonian Airways
In a challenge that saw a few queens really stick their landing and some come crashing down, Mrs. Kasha Davis was the only one of the bunch who thrived. Lip syncing to a ridiculous scat piece, the queen won over audiences and the judges with a convincing and hilarious performance.
13. Ariana Grande
Before she was making fabulous declarations such as “God Is a Woman,” Ariana Grande found herself on the judge’s panel of Drag Race. The popstar was one of the most actively interested judges that the show has ever seen, and her genuinely shocked reaction to Violet Chachki’s super-cinched waist will go down in herstory as one of the best panel reactions to a runway.
14. Ginger Minj’s Rendition of “Eggs” in the “Divine Inspiration” Challenge
It took the show seven seasons to finally deliver a John Waters-inspired challenge, but when it did, the queens made sure they did it right. In a musical number inspired by the infamous “Eggman” scene from Water’s cult classic film Pink Flamingos, Ginger Minj stole the show as a nearly-insane singing adult baby with an insatiable craving for…well, eggs!
15. Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard
Kennedy Davenport has gone down in history as one of the most meme-friendly queens to ever compete on Drag Race, and her pitch-perfect impression of rock and roll icon Little Richard was no exception. While some at the time felt that the queen’s impression was “cheating” (since Little Richard is male), there is no denying that this was a laugh-til-you-cry Snatch Game performance.
16. Ginger Minj as Adele
There is a reason, however, that there were two winners in season 7’s Snatch Game: having to choose between Little Richard and Ginger Minj’s hysterical Adele impersonation is impossible. While Ginger didn’t necessarily aim for accuracy, her constant jokes about Twinkies and Grammys made for one fabulous performance.
17. Debbie Harry
When you need someone to judge a group of faux-new wave bands, there is no one better to call than Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry. She not only showed the queens how a new wave band is meant to work, but even took the time to go backstage during Untucked to wish competitor Robbie Turner a happy birthday. What a legend.
18. Robbie Turner, Naomi Smalls and Kim Chi as Les Chicken Wings
There was a good reason why Debbie Harry decided to congratulate Turner though — the queen was one-third of the show-stealing new wave/punk rock mini group Les Chicken Wings. Turner, Kim Chi and Naomi Smalls tore up the mainstage with their rousing performance and left audiences everywhere gagged.
19. Kim Chi in Bitch Perfect
Kim Chi made a name for herself on Drag Race Season 8 as the klutzy queen who could barely walk in heels. So when the star embraced her awkwardness to deliver a hilarious and somewhat impressive performance in the show’s Bitch Perfect maxi challenge, audiences everywhere were immediately won over.
20. Madonna Runway (Part 1: Kimono Gate)
When it comes to Madonna and fashion, there are hundreds, if not thousands of looks to choose from. So when the queens of Season 8 took to the runway and three of them were dressed in kimonos inspired by Madonna’s “Nothing Really Matters” video, the judges were naturally baffled. But that’s okay, because it created one of the show’s most iconic fashion snafus.
21. Thorgy Thor as Michael Jackson
In a season where it seemed almost guaranteed that eventual winner Bob the Drag Queen would dominate Snatch Game, only one queen came close to toppling the talent — Thorgy Thor. The Brooklyn queen delivered a hilarious and spot-on impression of the King of Pop, with his twitchy mannerisms and perfect timing.
22. Tatianna’s “Same Parts”
When Tatianna revealed that she would be performing a spoken word piece as her talent on the premiere of All Stars 2, audiences prepared for a messy, corny poem about drag. What they got instead was a genuinely funny and very real piece that ended up becoming a banging club song for Tatianna to sell later.
Leave it to the always-adored Katya to make her Snatch Game performance as weird as possible. When faced with impersonating a famous celebrity, the queen chose Icelandic superstar Björk, nailing each and every one of her strange, quirky mannerisms. She blew bubbles randomly throughout the game, made strange noises with her throat and even ate one of her answer cards.
24. Alyssa Edwards as Annie Oakley in “Baddest Bitches in Herstory”
We all knew going into this lip sync/dance/song challenge that Alyssa Edwards would slay. But when the queen perfectly hit all of her marks, hit every needed comedic beat, and let the music do the work, it was clear to everyone that she was the one and only winner of that week’s challenge.
25. Katya’s Verse in “Read U Wrote U”
“Read U Wrote U” may be the best song to ever come out of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The bumping bitch track really worked thanks to the talents of Katya. This queen spit bars during her verse of the song, with lines such as “Lenin in the streets/Dostoyevsky in the sheets” becoming instant classics.
26. Lady Gaga
There is no question — Lady Gaga is, to date, the best guest judge to ever appear on Drag Race. Not only did Mother Monster serve up the usual critiques on the runway, but she made an incognito entrance into the Werk Room as a fake contestant, and even went back stage for one-on-one critiques with each of the queens. In her own words, it was “talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, etc.”
27. Lady Gaga Runway Challenge
When Gaga came on the season 9 premiere, she also brought with her a runway challenge that asked each queen to present a polished, accurate Gaga look. Every queen who walked the runway in that episode looked stunning, including Alexis Michelle’s Golden Globes Gaga, Trinity Taylor’s American Horror Story Gaga and Nini Bo’nina Brown’s 2009 VMAs Gaga.
28. The B-52’s
Since The B-52’s gave Ru a big break by hiring him as a dancer for their 1989 “Love Shack” video, the Glamazon decided to help return the favor by having the new wave icons appear as guest judges on the show’s ninth season. They even got to watch the season’s first lip sync to their hit song!
29. Alexis Michelle as Kris Jenner in Kardashian The Musical
While the Kardashian-themed musical challenge had its fair share of so-so performances, Alexis Michelle’s impersonation of momager Kris Jenner was not one of them. Nailing her perfect song through a spot-on impersonation of the Kardashian matriarch, Alexis stole the show in this challenge.
30. Madonna Runway (Part 2: Kimono She Better Don’t)
After a less-than-ideal execution one season prior, RuPaul decided to give the season 9 queens a crack at their best Madonna drag. While there were still a few repeated outfits, the queens made sure to bring their absolute A-game for this runway, making it one of the most memorable in the show’s history.
The key to a good guest judge is someone who is clearly excited to be at Drag Race and has fun with the audience. That was the case for Kesha, who couldn’t help but beam and grin during her judging panel appearance on the show.
32. Village People Runway
Few groups have the kind of distinct, specific fashion sense possessed by the members of The Village People. So when Ru told the Top 5 of Season 9 that they would be making outfits inspired by the different looks of the group, it should come as no shock that the queens delivered on some of the sickest fashion in the show’s run.
33. Shea Couleé’s Verse in “Category Is” Remix
In a rap/verse-writing challenge, the multi-talented Shea Couleé was bound to succeed. The Chicago-based queen’s verse for RuPaul’s remix of her track “Category Is” had rapid-fire bars, witty wordplay, drag references and everything else that you want to see in a performance.
34. Sasha Velour’s Verse in “Category Is” Remix
What audiences weren’t expecting to see, however, was Sasha Velour’s avant-garde yet still perfectly-executed verse. The queen’s delivery of her extra-dramatic line helped make this one of her most stellar performances on the show.
35. Aja’s “Linda Evangelista” Remix Moment
Regardless of what you felt about her performance on the show, there is no disputing that Aja walked away from Season 9 as the queen of the memes. And many of her classic and extra quirks were on display during the reunion episode, especially when RuPaul rehashed her fight with Valentina by playing an Adam Joseph remix of her full speech. Shade, Ru.
36. Vanessa Hudgens
It is rare that one of the show’s guest judges will become a meme, but that is exactly what Vanessa Hudgens managed to do throughout the premiere of All Stars 3. The singer and actress was fascinated by the girls showing off their talents, offered up her sage critiques, and said the now-iconic phrase: “I’m so into voguing right now.”
37. Trixie Mattel Singing “Moving Parts” Live
Since leaving season 7 of Drag Race twice, Trixie Mattel went on to show the world her supreme musical talent. So on the first episode of All Stars 3, the queen made sure to put her best foot forward with a moving performance of her song “Moving Parts” off of One Stone.
38. BenDeLaCreme as Julie Andrews in “Divas Live”
BenDeLaCreme had one of the most pristine track records in the show’s history before she ultimately decided to quit All Stars 3. One of the achievements in that record was a challenge-winning turn as Julie Andrews performing a high-energy rap to RuPaul’s “Call Me Mother.” Ben twerked it as Maria from The Sound of Music, and we’re still obsessed.
39. Shangela as Mariah Carey in “Divas Live”
The only reason DeLa didn’t manage to win this challenge is because she was up against the queen to beat, Shangela. Ms. Wadley’s diva-filled, acid-tongued performance as Mariah Carey was pitch-perfect, especially down to her microphone shortcomings.
40. Kristin Chenoweth
We love a guest judge that participates! When Kristin Chenoweth made it to the set of Drag Race, she didn’t just want to size up the competition — she wanted to be the competition. So the Broadway star impersonated herself during Snatch Game, leading to some of the episode’s best and funniest moments.
While fans spent their time speculating about whether or not Bebe Zahara Benet was a mole on All Stars 3, the queen quietly made her way to the Top 4 of the competition. This performance is great evidence of how this happened; though some fans were confused by the way she wrote lyrics for a songwriting challenge, never has the original queen had a line more iconic than “Ra ka ta ti ti ta ta.”
42. Trixie Mattel in “Drag Up Your Life”
Even after disappointing fans with her impression of RuPaul on Snatch Game, Trixie Mattel managed to come back in every way in the competition, proving that she deserved to win. Her verse in the “Drag Up Your Life” challenge was a perfect example of the queen using her razor-sharp wit and humor to make her way to the top of the pack.
43. Shangela’s Verse in “Kitty Girl” Remix
This queen had one of the best verses in the entire remix of RuPaul’s “Kitty Girl.” She not only nailed each and every step of her live choreography, but the queen managed to write some extremely catchy lyrics to convince the judges and her fellow queens that she deserved to be on top.
44. Trixie Mattel’s Verse in “Kitty Girl” Remix
There has yet to be a songwriter as good as Trixie Mattel to make their way through Drag Race. So when the queen was again tasked to write her own lyrics for a remix challenge, she naturally excelled, bringing her dark-yet-hilarious brand of humor and some great wordplay to put her over the top in the final episode.
45. Christina Aguilera
When Christina Aguilera walks into a room, she wants you to take notice. So when entering the season 10 premiere of Drag Race, the queen made her entrance even more stellar by pretending to be season 9 eliminee Farrah Moan, only to blow the contestants and judges away with her insane vocal riffs. This is how you feature as a Drag Race guest judge.
46. Courtney Love
Season 10 continued to roll out the red carpet for its celebrity guests, including Hole frontwoman Courtney Love. The starlet was stunned by the talent she saw on the stage, and got to see one of the best lip syncs in the show’s history between Mayhem Miller and Yuhua Hamasaki to her classic Hole song “Celebrity Skin.”
47. Shania Twain
A queen of country music in her own right, Shania Twain was an inevitable guest judge for the show, seeing just how many gay performers look up to her. While her appearance later became controversial due to her statements of apparent support for President Donald Trump, Twain still was an excellent guest judge and got to see a rip-roaring lip sync performance of her smash-hit single “Man! I Feel Like a Woman.”
48. Kameron Michaels in the Cher Rusical
The Nashville queen had been struggling in the competition up until this moment, when she finally triumphed in her performance as classic Cher. Her vocals were excellent, her impression was almost unclockable, and the queen proved why she deserved to stay until the end of the competition.
49. Miz Cracker in Cher Rusical
Perhaps one of the most underrated performances of the Cher Rusical was that of fan-favorite Miz Cracker. Not only did the queen nail her impression of the icon, but also managed to squeeze in some hilarious comedy out of the pop goddess’ extreme use of a vocoder.
50. Aquaria’s Verse in “American” Remix (S10)
There is a reason that Aquaria won season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The self-proclaimed “bitch from New York City” was high-fashion, very funny, and also musically gifted when it came to the final challenge. Aquaria’s well-performed and often impressive verse of “American” set the bar for the other queens in the competition that simply couldn’t be cleared.