RuPaul kicks off each lip-sync battle — those thrilling Drag Race throw-downs between each episode’s two poorest-performing divas — with some words of advice: “Good luck. And don’t f**k it up.”
Because the queens are fighting for their chance to stay on the show, they must bring all of their charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to the runway, which makes the battles the essence of drag distilled into two-and-a-half minutes. But what makes a lip-sync performance iconic? Yes, you should have the song down to every exhale, and yes, you should channel the song. But the most important thing to demonstrate is what is known in skills-based reality TV competitions as “making it your own.” In other words, even though the lip sync is a form of pure artifice, there is an essential truth about the self to be conveyed through it — that by mouthing someone else’s words, you can give voice to your own. This, honey, is what we call realness.
On the eve of the Drag Race’s sixth season, let’s look back at the best lip-sync battles the show has offered to date.