Some people watch Drag Race for the fashion, some watch it for the jokes, and some watch it for the shady drama. But no matter what you’re tuning in for, the lip sync at the end of each episode is always the best part. For many queens, performance is not only their passion; it’s also the most lucrative element of their work, so it’s no wonder that even if they had a down week, queens will come to life in a lip sync. After being on the air for over a decade, Drag Race has given fans tons of iconic lip syncs, but the most memorable lip syncs in RuPaul’s Drag Race herstory have that extra something-something to take them to the next level.
With 13 seasons and six All Stars seasons under its bedazzled belt, RuPaul’s Drag Race has taken over meme culture on social media, inspired bold new fashion trends, and facilitated important conversations about gender identity and expression. The heart of the show, though, is the lip sync battles, during which queens fight for their lives by embodying different songs. There’s no one way to give an iconic lip sync. Some queens will wow fans by pulling out wild gymnastics, while others will blow viewers away by focusing on the emotion and soul behind the lyrics.
While every Drag Race fan has their own opinion about which lip sync is truly the best of the best, these 15 are definite standouts:
15. Latrice Royale vs. Kenya Michaels: “Natural Woman”
Latrice Royale proved that you don’t need to dance around the stage to serve up an iconic lip sync. While Kenya Michaels twirled around her, Latrice channeled the spirit of Aretha Franklin without having to move an inch. Plus, the pregnancy-themed runway actually helped elevate the emotion to another level. Nearly a decade later, Latrice’s powerful lip sync still holds its own as one of the most soulful performances on the Drag Race stage.
14. Peppermint vs. Cynthia Lee Fontaine: “Music”
Peppermint gave a new meaning to the term lip sync assassin when she squared off against Cynthia Lee Fontaine to Madonna’s “Music.” The New York City legend pulled out all the stops — old-school dance moves, eating her earring, doing the robot — which all culminated in her shooting her competition with an imaginary shotgun perfectly to the beat. Paramedics! There’s been a murder on the dance floor.
13. Manila Luzon vs. Delta Work: “MacArthur Park”
Manila Luzon is best known for her campy take on fashion, but she proved she’s also an incredible lip sync performer back in Season 3 when she and Delta Work were facing elimination. Manila injected the Donna Summer number with over-the-top melodrama, adding in signature flourishes like crossing her eyes and letting her mascara run to real sell it. It was truly a performance that felt bigger than the stage, which is what drag is all about.
12. Naomi Smalls vs. Gia Gunn: “Adrenaline”
Before All Stars 4, Naomi Smalls was better known for her supermodel looks than for her lip syncing, so it was a true gag when she delivered what was probably the fiercest lip sync of the season. Gia Gunn definitely held her own to RuPaul’s “Adrenaline,” but there was no denying that Naomi had just done something iconic on that stage. From gravity-defying back bends to effortlessly sliding down the runway, Naomi showed she had tricks nobody even knew about.
11. Denali vs. Kahmora Hall: “100% Pure Love”
It may be recent, but Denali’s “100% Pure Love” lip sync is already iconic, with nearly four million views on Drag Race’s official YouTube channel half a year after it aired. Since Kahmora was restrained by her gown, Denali didn’t really have to do too much to win, but instead she took the opportunity to cement herself as Season 13’s lip sync assassin right from the jump. Her high-energy take on Crystal Waters’ house track became an immediate sensation among the fandom, even going so far as to influence the music charts.
10. Roxxxy Andrews vs. Alyssa Edwards: “Whip My Hair”
It takes a lot to beat Alyssa Edwards in a lip sync, but Roxxxy Andrews managed it by doing something only a select few queens have ever done: making RuPaul and Michelle Visage truly gasp. In the modern Drag Race era, reveals are a dime a dozen, but back in Season 5, Roxxxy was the first queen to reveal a second wig under her first one. The moment is now a Drag Race staple, ushering the show from its origins into its mainstream era.
9. Jujubee vs. Sahara Davenport: “Black Velvet”
The original lip sync assassin, Jujubee was a force to be reckoned with on Season 2, sending home three of her toughest competitors with incredible lip syncs. The most memorable, though, was her first lip sync, in which she captured the raw emotion in Alannah Myles’ blues rock anthem “Black Velvet.” As Sahara Davenport put her dancing talents on display, Juju’s undeniable win proved how emotion can trump tricks.
8. Laganja Estranja vs. Trinity K. Bonet: “Physical”
When All Stars season added a lip sync assassins twist in All Stars 5, fans knew some epic moments were ahead, and it delivered in a huge way when two of the best lip syncers in Drag Race herstory faced off in All Star 6. Trinity K. Bonet turned out some of the show’s most killer lip syncs in Season 6, but it was all over for her when Laganja Estranja dropped onto the stage and pulled out every last dance trick in the book to Dua Lipa’s “Physical.” The lip sync became instantly iconic in the fandom right after it aired.
7. Trinity K. Bonet vs. April Carrión: “I’m Every Woman”
All of Trinity’s lip syncs have been iconic, but nothing can match the energy of her very first time serving it up on the Drag Race stage. She proved she was a force to be reckoned with by perfectly encapsulating the confident diva attitude of Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” complete with fan snaps and a trip down the stage’s stairs. April definitely held her own, but there was just no denying the power of Trinity.
6. Brooke Lynn Hytes vs. Yvie Oddly: “Sorry Not Sorry”
Polished pageant queen Brooke Lynn Hytes and alternative oddball Yvie Oddly seem diametrically opposed when it comes to aesthetic, but in Season 11, they came together to deliver what is probably the most gymnastically jaw-dropping lip sync ever. Filled with flips, headstands, back bends, and splits, both Brooke and Yvie pummeled that stage to Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry.” Even more impressively, both queens embodied their unique styles while delivering over-the-top tricks, with Brooke effortlessly hitting her dance moves while Yvie added quirky weirdness to her movements. It’s no wonder the lip sync ended with a double shantay.
5. Widow Von’Du vs. Gigi Goode: “Starships”
Season 12 is a bit of a cursed season — the coronavirus pandemic messed up its finale and one of the queens was unceremoniously disqualified — but it sure had one heck of a premiere. In its first episode, Widow Von’Du served up an unbelievable lip sync that even had Nicki Minaj gasping. As “Starships” played, Widow contorted her body into painful-looking positions, easily stealing the spotlight from Gigi Goode, who managed to imbue her own brand of quirky whimsy into the lip sync.
4. Alyssa Edwards vs. Tatianna: “Shut Up and Drive”
C’mon, you knew this one was coming. Many Drag Race fans consider Alyssa and Tatianna’s lip sync in All Stars 2 to be the best in the show’s herstory. Not only did they both slay Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive,” but they did it in coincidentally matching outfits — with Alyssa in all black and Tati in all white — and similar blonde wigs. To top it off, the queens wowed everyone by also matching several moves, as Alyssa and Tatianna spun around at the exact same moment in the song before dropping to the ground on the same beat. It felt more like a choreographed performance than a battle, which is what made it work so well.
3. Chi Chi DeVayne vs. Thorgy Thor: “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going”
No queen could embody a soulful lip sync quite like Chi Chi DeVayne. The Southern queen delivered one of Drag Race’s most emotive, chill-inducing lip syncs against Thorgy Thor in Season 8, completely losing herself in Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Chi Chi’s lip sync remains a master class in channeling raw emotion, culminating in an epic moment in which the jewels on her gown fall to the ground during the song’s climax. The lip sync took on a whole new level of emotion after Chi Chi’s untimely death in 2020, and now it stands as the most awe-inspiring watch for any Drag Race fan.
2. Dida Ritz vs. The Princess: “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”
The pure joy and energy Dida Ritz exuded while performing “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” in front of Natalie Cole herself has yet to ever be matched on the Drag Race stage. She didn’t need any big tricks or reveals to deliver what many fans believe is the best lip sync performance in the show’s history. Unfortunately, The Princess was a casualty of Dida’s undeniable talent, as it is near impossible to look at anyone but Dida during this performance.
1. Sasha Velour vs. Shea Couleé: “So Emotional”
The reveal that gagged the world and changed Drag Race forever — was there any other choice for the No. 1 spot other than Sasha’s “So Emotional” performance? In the Season 9 finale, Sasha delivered what is arguably the most iconic and referenced moment in Drag Race herstory when she lifted her wig off her head to reveal dozens of rose petals cascading around her. The live audience was immediately on their feet cheering for the unexpected reveal, and the widespread effects of the moment is one of the big things that helped push Drag Race into the mainstream. Ain’t it shocking what rose petals can do?