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The 40 Most Iconic ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Lip Syncs Ranked

May the best woman win.

RuPaul's Drag Race best lip sync ranking

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The twelve seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race — and the four of All Stars, plus the international editions — have given us a lot to be thankful for: more than 15 reigning queens and countless catchphrases, not to mention more conversation starters for shy queers than WikiHow could dream for.

Friendships can blossom from a mutual love for an overlooked queen or favourite season, but nothing tears people further apart than a categorical ranking of lip syncs. And that’s what we’re here to do.

At the risk of becoming Drag Race‘s under-qualified armchair coach, we’ve painstakingly revisited all 150+ lip syncs of the show to find our favourite 40. Enjoy.

— Updated November 2020 —


#40. Kandy Ho vs. Mrs. Kasha Davis — ‘Lovergirl’, Teena Marie

Kicking off our list is a forgotten gem of a forgotten ’80s hit from two overlooked queens from the underrated season seven. Despite having pretty much no screen-time, Kandy Ho is the season’s lip-sync assassin, and here she proves it with a slick slow-burn. Mrs. Kasha Davis gives it a good fight, her drunken housewife aesthetic giving the song a seductive Mrs. Robinson quality.

 

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#39. Ginger Minj and Sasha Belle vs. Jaidynn Diore Fierce and Tempest DuJour — ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’,  Tiffany

Coming at the end of season seven’s conjoined twins makeover challenge, this double-dosed lip sync might not be the most polished, but it’s certainly wild. While Ginger and Sasha win due to their dramatic double mastectomy, Jaidynn Diore and Tempest land some laughs too. As Katya says, they “look like Larry Bird and Raven Symoné in a permanent butt-fuck position”.

 

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#38. Ra’Jah O’Hara vs. Mercedes Iman Diamond — ‘Living In America’, James Brown

Ra’Jah O’Hara was S11’s lip-sync assassin, surviving three times before getting the boot. Here, she decimates Mercedes by giving this James Brown track everything she’s got. Absolutely delightful to watch: it’s pure joy, and proof we need her back for All Stars.

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#37. Morgan McMichaels vs. Miz Cracker — ‘Where Have You Been?’, Rihanna

All Stars 5‘s ‘lip-sync assassin’ twist didn’t result in as many out-of-this-world moments as we’d hoped (you get Kennedy Davenport back for a Reba song???), but Morgan McMichaels returning to destroy a Rihanna track pretty much makes up for the season. Matching Miz Cracker’s icy-blue outfit, the two are pretty evenly matched: and then Morgan literally skips over a breakdancing Cracker. That’s the stuff of legends.

 

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#36. Ginger Minj vs. Trixie Mattel — ‘Show Me Love’, Robyn S

After season seven queens Ginger and Trixie end up in the bottom after a ‘half-female, half-male’ runway challenge, there’s nowhere to go but camp. Armed with a ’90s club classic, each of them serve up a ridiculous performance. I’ll forever be haunted by the image of Ginger dragging her gender-split body across the floor, somehow resembling a possessed baby.

 

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#35. Yvie Oddly vs. India Farrah — ‘Living La Vida Loca’, Ricky Martin

All Stars 5 started strong, with a few shocks: S3 queen India Farrah instantly redeems herself by winning the first challenge, but then we learn she’ll be lip-syncing against none other than a mystery assassin.

Enter Yvie Oddly in a rainbow-stoner jumpsuit, saying literally nothing, only to give a performance with hair reveals, back-bends and more bizarre facial expressions than thought possible. Taking her win, she leaves, as if it’s all nothing: for Yvie, easily one of the most underrated winners of the show, it’s simply not that hard.

 

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#34. Crystal Methyd — ‘Like A Bird’, Nelly Furtado

S12’s finale looked a little different: with the pandemic in full force, the top three battled it out from home. Each got a minute to create a solo lipsync, and Crystal hatched something even more unforseen than the clusterfuck of 2020. Taking ‘Like A Bird’ on a literal level, she created an art-craft kids show lip-sync as a mother and daughter bird, complete with flappable wings and a bit of vomit. Bizzare, dumb, completely Crystal.

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#33. Kiara vs. Priyanka — ‘I Drove All Night’, Céline Dion

You know a lip-sync’s good when the show airs it almost in full. After an abysmal Snatch Game, Canada’s Drag Race s1 winner Priyanka ends up in the bottom against the overlooked Kiara, and both go all-out for a Céline classic. Priyanka has the slight edge here, as she balances out her OTT dancing with some small moments, connecting to the quintessential Céline-theatrics of the tracks.

 

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#32. Rita Baga vs. Lemon – ‘You Oughta Know’, Alanis Morissette

An Alanis lip-sync on Canada’s Drag Race was always going to be huge. And while Lemon does a great job, Rita really sells the ’90s angst of ‘You Oughta Know’, writhing around on stage and finger-pointing with a lived-in frustration. It’s all so very real, and it’s a pleasure to watch: so much is its power that it’s impossible to find the full lip-sync online, but here are some snippets.


#31. Jujubee vs. Sahara Davenport — ‘Black Velvet’, Alannah Myles

Desperate, pleading and sweaty — both a common sight at gay clubs and the description of Jujubee’s emotionally charged lip-sync to Alannah Myles’ sultry country-twanged classic, ‘Black Velvet’. While Sahara breaks out her ballet training for some stunning moves, she lacks Jujubee’s intensity of each movement, who channels her need to stay into the song’s sense of longing.

 

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#30. Detox vs. Lineysha Sparx – ‘Take Me Home’, Cher

Detox’s lip-quivering sync is perfect for Cher’s singing voice, and it’s a delight to watch her alternate between seductive and funny. Lineysha serves up a suitably sexy show, but nothing can match the pure divinity of Detox’s jellyfish dress lifting into a tutu as she spins.

 

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#29. Heidi ‘N’ Closet  vs. Jaida Essence Hall  — ‘1999’, Prince

Two of S12’s break-through stars are forced to lip-sync against each other, and while it’s sad to see Heidi go, it’s a joy to watch her perform. Arguably a double-shantée, her and Jaida perform the fuck out of this Prince classic, and have a lot of fun while doing it — it’s almost like they’re celebrating with the abandon only found at a huge party, or something.

 

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#28. Asia O’Hara vs. The Vixen — ‘Groove Is In The Heart’, Deee-Lite

If there was a song to lip sync to while dressed as Pennywise The Clown’s gay cousin, it’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’, one of the most joyous songs to ever exist. Not even The Vixen’s dabbing — a Drag Race first — could ruin the lip sync, as both queens embrace the song’s weirdness, shifting between sexy moves to goofy air-drumming and stupid faces. Both are clearly having the best time, and it’s infectious.

 

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#27. Detox vs. Katya — ‘Step It Up’, RuPaul

Welcome to the first of many excellent All Stars 2 lip syncs on this list. As the week’s top two queens lip sync for their legacy, the stakes are lower — but without the pressure of possibly going home, each queen can just do their own thing. From Katya’s manic pigeon-lady performance to Detox serving sex — and baring her greatest assets — this lip sync shows off each queen at their best and most bizarre.

 

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#26. Aja vs. Nina Bo’nina Brown — ‘Finally’, CeCe Peniston

We wish there was a German word to describe the exact gay pleasure of two Drag Race queens performing a move in an accidental synchronicity. While linguists work on the case, we always have Aja and Nina Bo’nina tilting back to the skies to let out one of CeCe Peniston’s guttural screams of joy.

The lip sync is joyous — even with the lioness makeup, Nina Bo’nina has a slight edge over Aja for a few beautifully timed moments, such as a duckwalk where her boobs jiggle exactly in time with the beat.

 

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#25. Manilla Luzon vs. Delta Work — ‘Macarthur Park’, Donna Summer

Depending who you ask, this song’s literally about a cake melting in the rain, or it’s a crazed metaphor for the dissolution of a relationship. But whichever side you slide onto, it’s hard to deny the song’s about as a camp as a drag queen dressed as a Big Bird’s glamorous lady friend. Where Delta Work goes for a serious performance, a feathery Manilla embraces the melodrama with an over-acted mess — we love it.

 

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#24. Stacy Layne Matthews vs. Indiah Ferrah — ‘Meeting In The Ladies Room’, Klymaxx

We love a redemption arc, and this lip sync was the moment where Stacy Layne Matthews established herself as more than just a queen from Back Swamp, North Carolina. Proof that dance moves does not a lip sync make, Stacey commands attention with a venomous and opulent energy perfect for the song.

 

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#23.  Alaska Thunderfuck vs. Phi Phi O’Hara — ‘Got To Be Real’, Cheryl Lynn

Again, All Stars 2‘s strength of lip-syncing for your legacy comes through: without fear of going home, each queen can play up their schtick. While Alaska gives the fans what they want by resurrecting the bratty ‘Lil Poundcake — a doll created in season five with Lineysha Sparx — Phi Phi gives a tight, sensual performance that shows why she’s an All Star, tantrums and all.

 

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#22. Katya vs. Kennedy Davenport — ‘Roar’, Katy Perry

Kennedy Davenport deserves the world — somehow, she adds depth to one of pop’s blandest empowerment bops. Katya packs a punch too (and against anyone else, would have been safe), but nothing can quite match Kennedy’s ‘raw’ energy as she stunts from flip to flip, including one of the most intense split jumps in Drag Race herstory.

 

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#21. Naomi Smalls vs. Gia Gunn  — ‘Adrenaline’, RuPaul

All Stars 4‘s best episode was the lip-sync tournament, where the eliminated queens had the chance to reclaim a spot by knocking out one of the competitors. If you hadn’t seen Gia or Naomi live, you wouldn’t have expected this neck-and-neck performance: both queens weren’t the best lip-syncers on their original seasons, but off the show are known for their high-octane styles.

Gia whips her pony-tail around enough to give you whiplash from watching, while Naomi’s editorial-posing and backbends are as sight to behold. Art.

 

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#20. Raja vs. Carmen Carrera — ‘Straight Up’, Paula Abdul

I got three words for you: ‘sex’, ‘sex’, and (you guessed it), ‘sex’.

 

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#19. Adore Delano vs. Trinity K. Bonet — ‘Vibeology’, Paula Abdul

MORE SEX. We’re putting this one just above its spiritual successor since both queens serve up some stunning dance moves before the thing dissolves into full-core smut. Honestly though, our favourite part might have to be Courtney Act in the background, sidestepping politely to the beat.

 

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#18. Morgan McMichaels vs. Sonique — ‘Two Of Hearts’, Stacey Q

If you were left a little confused by the disappointment surrounding Morgan McMichaels’ lacklustre All Stars 3 stint, then you haven’t seen this. Morgan packs something into every beat of the song, giving us Vegas choreography on a season two stage.

 

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#17. Jinkx Monsoon vs. Detox — ‘Malambo No. 1’, Yma Sumac

Also known as ‘the moment Jinkx won Drag Race‘, this song gave everyone’s favourite narcoleptic drag queen a chance to show off her ability to capture a crowd. Where Detox gives a fun show, we’ve seen the moves before. In comparison, Jinkx’s campy moves and facial expressions are as left-centre as the song selection, a 1954 classic from Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac.

 

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#16. Trinity K. Bonet vs. April Carrión — ‘I’m Every Woman’, Chaka Khan

Trinity K. Bonet may have stumbled through most of season six’s challenges, but she sticks around because of her literally perfect lip syncs. As Courtney Act says, she’s “lip syncing down the house boots” — while April Carrión gives it a lot, Trinity’s fan and cape command attention.

 

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#15. Alyssa Edwards vs. Roxxxy Andrews — ‘Whip My Hair’, Willow Smith

The lip sync that ushered in a new rule of Drag Race: thou cannot remove one’s wig without a wig underneath (unless you’re Sasha Velour, but we’ll get to that later).

Watching this gives me whiplash, as Alyssa and Roxxxy go hard with the wig whipping. As iconic as this lip sync is, neither of them really know the words, so it can’t be higher up. Them’s the (completely arbitrary) rules.

 

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#14. Ben DeLaCreme vs. Aja — ‘Anaconda’, Nicki Minaj

Remember how strongly All Stars 3 started? The season might have gone wayward, but we’ll always have ‘Anaconda’.  As soon as you hear the beginnings of a Nicki Minaj song, it seems Aja — who is a pretty decent rapper — would have this in the bag, but DeLa gave a comedic performance so dumb that it showed real smarts.

 

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#13. Brooke Lynn Heights vs. Yvie Oddly — ‘The Edge Of Glory’, Lady Gaga

While their ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ lip-sync duel places a little higher than this in our rankings, attention must be paid to the moment where Yvie Oddly snatched the crown. Brooke dances the shit out of this Gaga ballad and has a cute meta moment with her jacket that’s literally printed with the promise of a ‘reveal’ underneath, but it’s hard to look away from Yvie.

Wearing a headpiece of mirrors, Yvie resembled some kind of Drag Brahma, and the bleeding eyes suggest a power that’s almost out of her control. It’s almost like, ahem, she’s on ‘The Edge Of Glory’. Then she turns — and flips. In that gown. With that much glass on her head.

It’s a physical feat, sure, but it’s also far more than a gimmick: she’s mythologising her own break-through to the Drag Race hall of fame, as it’s happening. Genius.

 

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#12. DiDa Ritz vs. Latrice Royale — ‘I’ve Got To Use My Imagination’, Gladys Knight

Both of these queens channel Gladys Knight, ‘the empress of soul’. Where DiDa dances through the spirit of ‘keepin’ on, keepin’ on’, Latrice’s facial expressions tell a story of pain and perseverance that took lip syncing for your life to a spiritual realm.

 

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#11. Naomi Smalls vs. Monét X Change — ‘Come Rain Or Come Shine’, Judy Garland

Naomi Smalls came back to All Stars 4 to prove she’s more than legendary, and her take on a Judy Garland classic shows an incredible wit and comic timing.

Where Monét goes for a straight ballad lip-sync, Naomi elects for an over-wraught, ridiculous performance, where she contorts her body and spasms with Judy’s melodramatic vocals. It’s completely unpredictable, and also gave her the power to surprise eliminate Manila Luzon. Legendary indeed.

 

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#10. Derrick Barry vs. Bob The Drag Queen — ‘You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, Sylvester

As we reach the single digits, most of these lip syncs are neck-and-neck, or at least somewhat even. That’s not the case here, as Bob utterly obliterates his competition.

As Derrick Barry sticks to tight choreography that interprets the lyrics quite literally — and has painted on some of the worst eyebrows ever seen on the show — Bob brings humour and some amazing moves to the mix to this track from ’70s queer disco hero Sylvester. If it wasn’t already clear, it was always his season to win.

 

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#9. Sharon Needles vs. Phi Phi O’Hara — ‘It’s Raining Men (The Sequel)’, The Weather Girls feat.
RuPaul

Not one for subtlety, the show brings season four’s feud between Phi Phi and Sharon to a head when they’re literally dressed as an angel and devil.

Watching it for the first time, it’s impossible to tell who will go home, as it seems simply too early for either of them. Sharon is a powerhouse on-stage, while PhiPhi goes hard on the dancing — though the editor’s slow down her death drop to a fall, which is laughably harsh.

Of course, neither of them sashay away. Instead, Willam is disqualified — for that reason, the editor’s throw some contextless blurry images of Willam watching the lip sync with ‘concern’, which makes no sense on a first watch. It’s soap operatic, stupid and over-the-top, encapsulating all of the things we love about Drag Race.

 

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#8. Monét X Change vs. Dusty Rae Bottoms — ‘Pound The Alarm’, Nicki Minaj

After ten seasons, even the best lip sync can feel a little predictable — that’s why Monét  X Change’s fake-out death drop is so legendary.

It’s a fun lip sync (and although Dusty usually performs rock songs, she brings a lot to the performance, too), and Monét brings a lot of sight gags in-between bringing the high-octane voguing that that song’s foghorns call for — but that one fake-out skyrockets this lip sync up the list.

 

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#7. Peppermint vs. Cynthia Lee Fontaine — ‘Music’, Madonna

At this point in season nine, we’ve heard people call Peppermint a legend of New York’s drag scene, but there hasn’t been much proof on the show itself. She’s been merely fine throughout the show, which does not a legend make.

Turns out she was saving it all for this. As she completely obliterates her competition while barely breaking a sweat, Peppermint makes the whole thing look so effortless.

How does she make the robot so entertaining? Or a crab walk so funny? Or eating an earring so gag-worthy? All we know is that when she mimes shooting Cynthia Lee Fontaine, it’s a mercy killing.

 

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#6. Yvie Oddly vs. Brooke Lynn Heights — ‘Sorry Not Sorry’, Demi Lovato

The one where two tops refuse to bottom. S11’s front-runners bombed their Snatch Games, but were ready to do whatever it takes to survive.

Double headstands leading into front flips, checking manicures while in full splits, a forward-flip wig reveal, a slide across the stage: just absolutely everything both stars have got, laid out bare.

Funny, sexy, awe-inspiring all-in-one, elevating a perfectly fine Demi Lovato track into an anthem.

 

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#5. Alyssa Edwards vs. CoCo Montrese — ‘Cold Hearted’, Paula Abdul

The producers of the show must have worked overtime to tee up this perfect ‘coincidence’ — mortal pageant frenemies Alyssa and CoCo land in the bottom and are forced to lip sync to ‘Cold Hearted’, a song about double-crossing liars. To quote Jinkx, “the lip sync is jaw-dropping”: both queens gives it their all to prove not only do they need to stay, but that they’re better than each other.

There’s a thousand iconic moments packed in here — Alyssa’s spin jump into splits, Coco twirling her jumpsuit’s long-sleeves into circles — but my favourite might have to be Coco pointing to her mouth to show she knows every beat of Adbul’s fast-sung lyrics.

 

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#4. Sasha Velour vs. Shea Coulée — ‘So Emotional’, Whitney Houston

Season nine shook up the finale format for the better with a lip sync tournament. Where Shea, the season’s front-runner, might have thought she had it in the bag, Sasha came prepared with three rose petal reveals. A slow-build, Sasha’s theatricality is perfect for the song’s ‘loves me, loves me not’ vibe before Houston embraces being head over heels — and Sasha lets it all come out.

It may be a stunt, but it’s one that showed the conceptual intelligence Sasha promised she had all season. And if you don’t believe me, The AV Club once devoted thousands of words to Sasha’s performance.

 

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#3. Chi Chi Devayne vs. Thorgy Thor — ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, Jennifer Holiday

As the signature tune from Dreamgirls, this torch song is a defiant refusal to be left in the dirt by a lover. It’s perfect meta fodder for a lip sync for your life, and Chi Chi Devayne connects to the resilience of Jennifer Holiday’s original recording, capturing the anger and disappointment of the song.

While Chi Chi swears it wasn’t planned, there’s a moment where she gets off her knees and the beads dangling from her dress fall off and hit the floor in a thunder — it’s a beautiful moment straight off a Broadway stage.

Oh, and Thorgy? She’s there to make sure Chi Chi doesn’t fall on the beads. Vale.

 

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#2. Tatianna vs. Alyssa Edwards — ‘Shut Up And Drive’, Rihanna

Again, a wonderful thematic coincidence — as both Tatianna and Alyssa Edwards lip sync for their chance to return to All Stars 2, the two are matching. Both wear a sleeveless jumpsuit with frills at the thighs and knee-length boots — the only difference is Tati’s wearing white and Alyssa’s in black.

Everything’s in sync between the two, as they give one of Rihanna’s standout early hits the pedal-to-the-medal it deserves — spawning one of Drag Race‘s finest memes while at it.

 

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#1. DiDa Ritz vs. The Princess – ‘This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)’, Natalie Cole

With Natalie Cole as a guest judge, DiDa Ritz wants to “do it for her” — what follows is one of the most delightful things to ever air on television.

‘This Will Be’ might be one of the happiest songs in the world, and DiDa captures that. Every movement is carried through with absolute joy, and when Cole and the judges wave hanker-chiefs and yell out, it’s hard to not scream with gay abandon.

 

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RuPaul’s Drag Race is fast-tracked from the US on Stan, with seasons 1-12, All Stars, Canada‘s and UK also available. Read our Drag Race recaps here.

Jared Richards is a Staff Writer for Junkee, and won’t apologise for not including the ‘Dancing On My Own’ lip sync. It’s not good.  Follow him on Twitter.