International Supermodel of the World RuPaul has been wowing us with her musical prowess since the early ’90s, so it’s a given who the Splinters choice for best drag musical act of recent years may be. Her most recent album, Born Naked, became her most successful on the Billboard charts in years and has spawned many a recording career. And whilst it’s hard to look past sonic gem-makers like Divine for drag-related dance-pop from the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was the music of RuPaul that paved the way for so many drag queens that would come after her. In fact, all of the acts (bar one third of our Number 2 entry) in the Splinters Top 5 became semi-household names courtesy of RuPaul and her hit reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race, which, for those of you unaware and playing at home, is a mixture of America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway – but for Drag Queens.
In the six seasons of Drag Race a number of Queens have stood out above the rest in the recording studio. Let’s count down the Top 5!
NUMBER FIVE: Courtney Act
Australia’s own Caught in the Act is already well known in Australia for being our very own original Drag Superstar, but it wasn’t until the most recent season of Drag Race aired that the rest of the world became exposed to this multi-talented, Aussie blonde bombshell. Back in 2004, Courtney was a Wildcard Entrant for the now defunct Australian Idol. She made it into the finals and, once the show was over, toured the nation as part of the Idol franchise and even released a single, ‘Rub Me Wrong’, which featured a stunning cover of AC/DC classic ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ as the b-side. Since then, Courtney’s released a truckload of pop classics, including ‘To Russia with Love’ and her most recent release, the hysterical and Lady Gaga/Kylie Minogue approved ‘Mean Gays’.
NUMBER FOUR: Jinkx Monsoon
Dink Munson won Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race and since then she has hit the ground running. A super-talented actress and a big-voiced singer, Jinkx recently released her flaw-free debut record The Inevitable Album, a stellar release that even features B52’s member Fred Schneider on guest vocals. Not only that, Jinkx is going to be the central motif in an upcoming feature-length documentary movie called Drag Becomes Him, planned for release by year’s end.
NUMBER THREE: Raja Gemini
Winner of Season 3, RuPaul’s Drag Race queen Raja Gemini has released a swag of fantastic edgy pop songs, with debut single ‘Diamond Crowned Queen’ and most recent release ‘Zubi Zubi Zubi’ being the absolute cream of the crop. Combining a love of pop, techno and electro music, Raja’s blend of club-kid neo-pop is an acquired taste, but it’s one that’s full of hooks, turns and peaks that are catchier than a VD.
NUMBER TWO: Detox, Willam and Vicky (DWV)
News relating to the groundbreaking pop parody three-piece is coming in thick and fast this week with the announcement the trio has split up. In typical West Hollywood fashion, the split has festered itself onto the World Wide Web, with two of the three parties taking to social media to vent. DWV’s Vicky Vox and Detox Icunt have declared a ‘dislike’ – and we use that word in place of the many colourful ones the queens actually used – for former bandmate Willam Belli on Twitter and Facebook, with Willam turning to uber-nerd-hub Reddit to confirm the split and, quite hilariously, confirm that all the sub-tweeting and sub-posting was indeed actually about her.
In light of this tragic pop split, we highly recommend you soak up the group’s big hits as you join us in our candlelight lament: their Alicia Keys parody ‘Boy is a Bottom’, their own take on Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ (a tribute to Amanda Bynes called, yup, you guessed it – Blurred Bynes), the hysterical ‘Chow Down’, which sings of chicken and gay rights to the tune of Wilson Philips’ ‘Hold On’ and ‘Silicone’, which sings its sweet tune to the melody of Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’. We love all three queens from DWV here at Splinters and wish them nothing but the best of success in their solo endeavours, but we’re secretly hoping for reconciliation…
NUMBER ONE: Alaska Thunderfuck
With three singles under her belt (all of which are Instant Classics), Alaska Thunderfuck is The Queen of All Queens when it comes to recorded sound. Whether it’s her abrasive first single ‘Trannies Are Fierce (And They Carry Big Guns)’, the rap-tastic, name-dropping ‘Ru Girl’ from last year, or latest single ‘Your Makeup is Terrible’, Alaska knows how to pen a hit. Not only that, she’s got a real knack for the visual side of things and it shows in her super stylised video for ‘Your Makeup is Terrible’. We had a chance to meet with Alaska during her Australian tour back in April and she called us her “little grasshopper,” which we thought was quite sweet really.
Honourable Mentions: Adore Delano, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, Pandora Boxx, Manila Luzon, Kelly Mantle, Sharon Needles, Lady Bunny and Tatianna.
Go out and support the drag-based music community, not just globally and through iTunes, but by visiting your local clubs and bars that put on a good drag show. Drag is full of wondrous surprises, incredible dance moves and larger than life personalities – what’s not to love about it?!
Written by Adem Ali