Wednesday, September 5, 2012

RuPaul's Drag Race: The Musical Legacy

Considering the surprise Top 40 success of RuPaul's dance hit "Supermodel," it shouldn't surprise me how many RuPaul's Drag Race contestants have tried their hand at music making. It's been almost 20 years since Ru Paul topped the Billboard charts, so America is clearly ready for the next drag singing sensation, right? 

But if there's one thing I've learned from my Drag Race immersion therapy (my girlfriend and I devoured seasons 2-4 in just a few weeks time), there's a really good reason why most drag queens stick to lip synching. But that fact didn't stop a handful of Drag Race winners and also-rans from turning out some tunes. Although it probably should have in some cases. 

Let's take a look at some of the songs these divas created and decide whether these ladies are musically fierce or musical failures:

Tyra Sanchez - "Look At Me"
Tyra Sanchez may have been the winner of Season 2 (Raven was robbed!), but if there's one thing we learned about her during the show it's singing is something she should probably never do. Somehow this obvious fact was lost on her. Tyra. Seriously. "Look At Me" is the reason Beyonce is ignoring your calls. This song should not exist. Verdict: Musical Failure

Tatianna - "Losing Control"
Despite her touchy defensiveness and penchant for hooker-wear, I had a soft spot for Season 2 also-ran Tatianna. I was surprised to find that she has not one, but three singles available on iTunes.  Sadly the underdog with the really, really short skirt also makes music that falls really, really short. She showed a surprisingly funny side on the show with a spot-on Brittany Spears impression, but her songs are all totally void of any humor and just sound thin, cliched and forgettable. Verdict: Musical Failure

Pandora Boxx - "I Wanna Have Some Fun"
Pandora Boxx was one of my favorites on season 2. I like the fact that out of drag you'd just think he was some nerd on his way to the comic book store, and as a drag queen she's funny and self-effacing, but still pretty and not a total cartoon. Her music reflects that as well. "I Wanna Have Some Fun" is better than most of the songs RuPaul's Drag Race contestants have subjected us to, but many of these ladies have set the bar pretty low, so that's not saying much. Extra props for the Samantha Fox "Naughty Girls Need Love Too" nod. Verdict: Musically Fierce

Jessica Wild - "You Like It Wild"
If there's one thing I learned from Ru Paul's Drag Race, it's that everybody in Puerto Rico is apparently a drag queen. Jessica Wild was one of my favorite contestants from Season 2 because out of drag he was so cute and had such a sweet personality. "You Like It Wild" is basically an introduction song - you can easily picture Jessica Wild taking the stage and stomping down the runway to it. Or at least up the rickety stairs to the make-shift stage of a sketchy gay bar. Verdict: Musically Fierce

Sahara Davenport - "Pump With Me"
Maybe I've been around too many new mothers recently, because "Pump With Me" sounds like the name of a song the American Academy of Pediatrics would commission to promote breast feeding. I don't think that's what Ms. Davenport was going for. Although her voice isn't Tyra-horrible, she should stick to her amazing ballet-inspired dance moves and abandon her musical ambitions. Verdict: Musical Failure

Shangela - "Call Me LaQuifa"
Shangela was one of my favorites on the show, and her "Call Me LaQuifa" totally rules. Like DJ Assault in drag, the song is a collection of crazy Shangela dialogue snippets set to an infectious beat. I hope this is played every single night at every single gay club in the country. Verdict: Musically Fierce

Raja - "Diamond Crowned Queen"
Raja was the winner of Season 3 and I loved her avant garde fashion sense and androgyny. Although she won the musical challenge in which each queen had to perform a RuPaul song in a different musical style, I think her win had more to do with style and showmanship than it did her singing talent. Sadly, Raja apparently didn't see it that way. "Diamond Crowned Queen" is as awful as it is creepy. It's like a chopped and screwed Lords Of Acid song that just won't end. She has another song "Sublime" which is only slightly better. No more singing, Raja. Verdict: Musical Failure

Manila Luzon - "Hot Couture"
Manila was far from my favorite of Season 3. Too bitchy and too quick to look down on some of the other contestants. So I'm surprised that she managed to turn out a really good song. It's obvious that auto-tune is her best friend, but vocal assistance aside, "Hot Couture" is damn catchy. I could see RuPaul performing this song. Which is basically the highest praise I could give a drag queen's song. However, she should really quit while she's ahead: her other song, "Best Xxxcessory," is a hot messVerdict: Musically Fierce

Willam - "Chow Down"

Season 4 introduced us to Willam, but before we really got to see a whole lot of what she had to offer, she was disqualified and sent home for violating the show contract (her husband came to visit her at the hotel which is an apparent no-no). We may never know how far she would have gotten on the show, but musically speaking, she's a total Drag Superstar. "Chow Down" is a tongue-in-cheek take down of America's most politically polarizing fast food joint set to the tune of Wilson Phillip's "Hold On." What's not to love? She's also got a few other hilariously inappropriately numbers like "The Vagina Song" and "Love You Like A Big Schlong" that show she's got a more than a few pervy musical tricks up her skirt. Verdict: Musically Fierce

So there you have it. Hopefully these songs will tide you over until RuPaul's Drag Race Allstars starts in October.

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