Because of how RuPaul's Drag Race structures the game, lip syncs generally come at a moment of desperation for the queens. They've typically been roundly criticized by the judges for their performance that week, they might go through the wringer in an Untucked gaggle, and then they are put up against one of their sisters for their last chance at staying in the game. It's in those moments that these contestants generally try to pull out of the stops to steal attention. They might do a wig reveal, tear away whatever they have on for a better look, jump into the splits, or — in the case of Mimi Imfurst — hoist the other girl onto your shoulders.
But there are a few special performances that prize a connection: to the music, to the lyrics, and to the audience. They shirk the gags and the overt grabs in favor of true performance, and it's time to give them their shine. Scroll on to see some of our favorites from over the years.
(Note: This list does not include All Stars as the stakes in Lip Sync for Your Legacy are different than Lip Sync for Your Life.)
Kenya Michaels might have been dancing literal circles around Latrice Royale, but it honestly stood no chance. Royale, a veteran of performance stood in one spot and sang an ode to her unborn child bringing smiles to the judges' faces.
04 - Latrice Royale & Kenya Michaels - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman pic.twitter.com/BHOt3KXkIM
(@yuudot) November 14, 2016
April Carrion gave a soulful performance to "I'm Every Woman," she did. Emoting was certainly not her problem. Her main issue: Trinity K Bonet is just that good. Using every inch of the stage, Bonet gave a masterclass in lip syncing showing that it's not just about knowing the lyrics, but also the music. Her every move was timed to the track, from cape flourishes to fan clacks, making for a show that was impossible to look away from.
Before you even start, we know that Alyssa Edwards did well! We know! The reality is though, that this list is for performances who shirked the slips and dips and still gave us something to write home about. She doesn't fall within those parameters here — and to be honest, we agree with Ru that Montrese sold this one a bit better.
Though many of the performances in this list are extremely earnest, that's certainly not the only way to do it. Dressed up as the devil, Sharon Needles put her slightly spooky spin on the performance and injected a bit of humor into it as well. It, no doubt, felt all the more heightened because of the interpersonal drama.
To say that this performance was unexpected is an understatement. Manila Luzon starts with a performance as soft and as earnest as the track itself. It is as some would say a "park and bark" moment: a beautiful gown, and a drag queen faux belting it out. But when "MacArthur Park" takes a turn to disco with the beat drop, Luzon's movements (and specifically her face) also change. It was certainly a show to remember.
In what's seemingly a combination of all of the great, non-stunt lip syncs before it, Widow Von Du turned it out to Chaka Khan, in front of Chaka Khan. The fact that this was clear to all that skipping the flips and splits was a choice given that she did all of those and more during her lip sync in the first episode, only made it all the more impressive.
Season 14's LaLaPaRuza had the stakes sky high but battle after battle, the queens delivered. And though Lady Camden's match up with Bosco went viral for a specfic camera shot that captured both of the queens and then went back and forth on focus between the pair, that shot was made all the more powerful by Camden's performance. The English performer truly connected with the track and we didn't want to let go.
— drag (race) queens archive (@dragracearchive) March 21, 2022