Over the last decade, drag has made its way from being an underappreciated form of performance art to becoming one of the most culturally prominent phenomenons in the world.
Thanks in large part to the rise in popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race, queens now have the ability to show their multitude of talents in more than just gay clubs — including in music videos. With the rise of drag as a mainstream artform, many queens have used music videos to show off their musical chops while also providing another medium to display their style and charisma to the world.
In 2018, drag stars from around the globe proved that they are some of the most talented music video stars of the day. Here are Billboard Pride’s picks for the 10 best drag queen music videos of the year.
10. Monét X Change, “Soak It Up”
As the reigning Miss Congeniality from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10, it is no wonder that Bronx-based queen Monét X Change became one of the show’s breakout stars. Helping catapult her into that new sense of fan-favoritism was her stunning video for “Soak It Up.” The visual for the club-ready jam shows Monét nailing her looks, slaying her choreography and appearing alongside fellow queens like Bob the Drag Queen and Monique Heart, and doing it all while serving us Scotch-Brite realness.
9. Dusty Ray Bottoms, “Neva Lavd Yah”
Plenty of queens have tackled all kinds of musical genres, and Dusty Ray Bottoms’ “Neva Lavd Yah” is no exception with its unapologetically pop-punk production. The video is no exception, showing Dusty as she performs at a rowdy Brooklyn club, while one of her audience members sees her drag and decides that he can express himself however he wants.The video is smart and funny, and successfully shows off Dusty’s talent at making the weird wonderful.
8. Jiggly Caliente, “All This Body”
It’s been a big year for Jiggly Caliente with the release of her debut album T.H.O.T. Process. But of all the subsequent videos that resulted from her record, “All This Body” is by far the most poignant. The clip shows Jiggly struggling with her body weight and even going to see a plastic surgeon before, with the help of her “fairy drag mothers” Ginger Minj and Alaska, she learns to accept herself and become confident in her size. With incredible visuals and a beautiful message of self-love, “All This Body” will make you fall in love with Jiggly all over again.
7. Adore Delano, “27 Club”
Since her appearance on season 6 of Drag Race, Adore Delano has become widely hailed as one of the premiere musicians to come out of the show. If “27 Club” and its video are to serve as examples, then it’s easy to see why that’s the case. The video sees Adore, in a variety of gorgeous looks and outfits, praying to not become a part of the infamous 27 Club (where famous stars die at 27). From posing nearly-naked in a bathtub to a saintly outfit, Delano turns some of her best looks to date in order to effectively get her point across in this haunting video.
6. Aja, “I’m Kawaii/Ayo Sis”
With her debut EP In My Feelings, Aja showed off her skills as a rapper, resulting in one of the best drag queen albums of the year. In her video for her two songs “I’m Kawaii” and “Ayo Sis,” Aja went even further, not only spitting bars, but also showing off her unique visual style, blending different elements of her aesthetic into a fabulous video. Aja even uses depictions of her in and out of drag to comment on the oppressive nature of the gender binary, making her video even better for it.
5. Trixie Mattel, “Break Your Heart”
Of the many albums and songs released by queens in 2018, Trixie Mattel’s One Stone is easily one of the best, ditching the comedy queen’s off-the-wall humor for more earnest, subtle songwriting. But watching the video for Mattel’s “Break Your Heart,” it’s easy to see that the two can go hand in hand. While the song is a fun rebuff to an ex-lover, the video handles that subject matter with cartoonish delight, showing Trixie going from nosy neighbor to negligent nurse, and makes this video one hell of a good time.
4. Blair St. Clair, “Now or Never”
Some music videos are just meant to be fun depictions of artists’ songs, while others are meant to be artful works filled with depth and meaning. Blair St. Clair’s video for “Now or Never” is certainly the latter, depicting a person in crisis who learns to take back their own inner power. After her stunning revelation about sexual assault and her transparency about her struggles with alcoholism, St. Clair’s video feels like it’s a direct message from her about inner strength. With the added benefit of excellent visuals and a specific 1950s aesthetic, “Now or Never” is likely the most powerful video released by a queen in 2018.
3. Pabllo Vittar, “Então Vai”
Even without a major platform like Drag Race to launch off of, Pabllo Vittar has become one of the most successful drag stars of the modern age. A video like “Então Vai” is a perfect example of why that is. Vittar shows off her incredible skill to establish an aesthetic from the start of the video, turning a breakup song into a fun, mountainous party with a number of dancers. From the looks to the dancing, to the incredible Diplo cameo that results in a major kiss between the two, “Então Vai” is exactly the kind of fun and free video we needed in 2018.
2. Aja, “Finish Her!”
Before she even released her debut EP, Aja came out with a bang by releasing “Finish Her!” the day after her elimination on All Stars 3. The song was a hard-hitting rap track, trashing her detractors. But the video that followed was one of the most excellent of the year, taking a Mortal Kombat theme to the next level, with Aja becoming the characters of a fighting game. The video is fast-paced, fun, badass and most of all, visually stunning. She was perfect, she was beautiful, and she most definitely slayed Linda Evangelista.
1. Shea Coulee, “Crème Brûlée”
When executing her creative vision for “Crème Brûlée,” Shea Couleé clearly knew what she was doing. This stunning video combines everything fans love about the Drag Race superstar into one — it’s got humor, it’s got well-executed fashion, it’s got Shea’s sickening rap skills, and it has a clear palette it’s working on. From the colorful monochromatic sets to Shea’s ridiculous amount of looks, “Crème Brûlée” represents the epitome of a drag queen music video, and dares others to get on its level.