Take a Walk Down Memory Runway With the 10 Best Lip-Sync Battles in RuPaul's Drag Race Herstory
Whether you're already a fierce advocate of the LGBTQ+ community or new to drag queen culture, we can all agree the most entertaining parts of RuPaul's Drag Race are the "Lip Sync For Your Life" eliminations. Season 13 was jam-packed with these epic battles thanks to the "Pork Chop Round" that occurred during the premiere episode. But if you're new to the show, you may be curious which drag contestants have had the best luck slaying the competition with their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. Well, look no further, because we've compiled 10 of the best lip syncs of all time.
Denali vs. LaLa Ri: "When I Grow Up" (Season 13)
I'll never forget this pair's commitment to performance. This battle was one of the first of the season as part of the surprise "Pork Chop" round where contestants were immediately subjected to a "Lip Sync For Your Life" without gameplay or preamble. LaLa Ri emerged the victor thanks to her fierce splits and booty drops, but Denali did a full-on cartwheel on ice skates . . . despite the lack of ice. It was so impressive that the two queens were given an opportunity for a rematch to "Be My Lover" during the "Reunited" episode, where Denali snagged the win along with $10,000 for her charity, the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Yvie Oddly vs. Brooke Lynn Hytes: "Sorry Not Sorry" (Season 11)
Yvie's elastic body and Brooke Lynn's equally flexible legs (thanks to her ballet training) made this a matchup for the ages. In fact, the judges were so impressed that the performance resulted in a "Double Shantay," allowing both queens to stay and slay for another week. RuPaul also commented on the performance: "We have a couple of lip-sync assassins in our presence. No one is safe."
Jaida Essence Hall vs. Crystal Methyd vs. Gigi Goode: "Bring Back My Girls" (Season 12)
Seasons 12 and 13 each had personal video components to the finales due to the social-distancing guidelines still in place from the COVID-19 epidemic. For season 12 in particular, this involved a full show produced from home via video chat. Each contestant went through three "Lip Sync for the Crown" challenges, the first involving a head-only performance. The queens had to capitalize on lip, facial movements, and attitude to convey the winning look. Sadly for fans, no one was eliminated during this round, but it was the first lip sync of its type for the series.
Kameron Michaels vs. Monet X Change: "Good as Hell" (Season 10)
The pair performed this song in front of the artist, Lizzo, and despite a hard-fought battle by Monet X Change, Kameron Michaels arose victorious. This marked Monet's third time in the bottom and Kameron's second. Fortunately for Kameron, this performance continued what would become a string of impressive lip syncs that would put Michaels into the top four and has since made her a performance favorite on Instagram.
Nina Bo'nina Brown vs. Valentina: "Greedy" (Season 9)
This lip sync was epic more for what didn't happen than what did happen: Valentina failed to lip sync, choosing to hide behind her mask instead. This forced RuPaul to stop the performance and insist Valentina remove her face covering. This, of course, led to one of the most infamous phrases on the show: "I'd like to keep it on, please." (Insert shady rattlesnake noise here.) Valentina eventually relented, but it was immediately clear that she'd initially refused because she didn't know the song. Nevertheless, a star was born that night. Valentina returned for the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars and starred in Rent: Live on Fox, where she did indeed sing.
Sasha Velour vs. Shea Coulee: "So Emotional" (Season 9)
Thanks to Roxxxy Andrews, wig reveals have become common on RuPaul's Drag Race. But self-proclaimed art queen Sasha Velour, whose signature bald look was a surprise favorite with the judges, put a new twist on the gag. Lifting her wig in time with the music, Sasha revealed a bevy of rose petals, which spelled defeat for dancing queen Shea Coulee in the preliminary round of "Lip Sync For the Crown." Sasha then moved on to win against the season's lip-sync assassin, Peppermint.
Robbie Turner v. Cynthia Lee Fontaine: "Mesmerized" (Season 8)
Fans of the show know how persnickety RuPaul can become when a contestant breaks a stage light. Well, not only did Robbie Turner break one, but she also fell off the stage during a "Lip Sync for Your Life," which she chose to do on roller skates! The runway theme of the week was "Roller Girl Realness," so Robbie took advantage of her skate knowledge to spin (and flip) her way to a win despite drawing RuPaul's ire about the set damage.
Roxxxy Andrews v. Alyssa Edwards: "Whip My Hair Back and Forth" (Season 5)
This is the lip sync that launched a thousand wig reveals, including the iconic "Wigs on Wigs on Wigs" runway for All Stars season three. In this performance, Roxxxy Andrews shocked the judges by removing her wavy blond wig to reveal a new wig of straight blond tresses that she did indeed whip back and forth against Alyssa Edwards for another well-deserved "Double Shantay." This was also Roxxxy's only appearance in the bottom all season. Fans didn't get another elimination-round lip sync from her until the 12th episode of the season when she became a top-three finalist.
Latrice Royale vs. Kenya Michaels: "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Season 4)
Latrice turned what would normally be a campy moment into a powerful one, handily winning this standoff in the process. Dressed in pregnancy drag, Latrice stood her ground and was smart enough to capitalize on the emotionality of the moment because the song is about a woman sacrificing everything for the one she loves.
Naomi Smalls v. Gia Gunn: "Adrenaline" (All Stars 4)
Naomi Smalls's legs are legendary — "All legs no dairy" — so it is no surprise she utilized them to winning effect in this "Lip Sync For Your Life" against Gia Gunn. Both competitors brought their A game and gave us a battle that not only included tight song work but also epic voguing, elegant floor glides, high-stakes hair flips, and perfectly timed backbends.