Over nine seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race (and three seasons of All Stars), we’ve seen some pretty incredible lip sync battles take place. For those not familiar with the format of the show, the two lowest-ranking queens each week have to fight for their place in the competition by slaying a lip sync to a popular song. Some of these battles have been average, some entertaining, and others just plain boring. However, some have been so iconic that they’ve been immortalized in Drag Race herstory.
When you’re desperate to stay in a competition, you’re always going to pull out all the stops to fight for your right to remain. Whether it’s for their dramatic moments or their genuinely stunning choreography, these particular performances will never be forgotten. The time has come to remember the most iconic “Lip Sync For Your Life” battles of all time. The rest can simply sashay away.
18. Valentina vs Nina Bo’Nina Brown
Oh, Valentina. You had such promise. You could have gone all the way. Why did you have to ruin it all in this now-infamous lip sync? After falling into the bottom two alongside Nina Bo’Nina Brown following a lackluster acting challenge, all Val had to do to save herself was lip sync to Ariana Grande‘s song “Greedy.” Easy, right? Apparently not. Jaws hit the floor when Valentina attempted to perform a lip sync with a mask fully covering her mouth. When Ru understandably asked Val to remove the mask, it became clear that this doomed queen didn’t know the words to the song. It was painful and kind of embarrassing to watch. Valentina went home, to the surprise of fans everywhere.
17. ChiChi DeVayne vs Thorgy Thor
When Southern Belle ChiChi DeVayne ended up in the bottom two with New York superstar Thorgy Thor, we were all pretty devastated. Both of these season eight queens were incredibly strong competitors and we were secretly hoping that RuPaul would save them both in a shocking twist. However, one of them had to go home, and from the first second of this lip sync, it was clear that it would be Thorgy. ChiChi absolutely slayed the Dreamgirls classic “And I Am Telling You,” giving one of the most emotional performances of the season. That moment when she sends her string of pearls flying everywhere… CHILLS. ChiChi was so good that the original Effie White, Jennifer Holliday, made her an honorary Dreamgirl. Poor Thorgy. Even that last-second cartwheel couldn’t save her.
16. Sharon Needles vs. Phi Phi O’Hara
When two queens who actively hate each other end up facing each other in a lip sync, you know sparks are going to fly. Sharon Needles and PhiPhi O’Hara clashed pretty much as soon as they met back in season four. Their infamous “at least I am a showgirl b*tch” fight will forever live on in our memories. So when these two queens ended up in the bottom two, we were gagging to see who would send who home. Both queens pulled out all the stops for their performance of “It’s Raining Men”: it was pretty much too close to call. In the end, though, the lip sync became basically irrelevant. In a shocking twist, fellow queen Willam was disqualified for ‘breaking the rules of the competition.’ Sharon and PhiPhi both lived on to squabble for another day.
15. Roxxxy Andrews vs Alyssa Edwards
Roxxxy Andrews may be one of the most-hated queens in Drag Race herstory, but you’ve got to hand it to her: she slayed this lip sync. While her competitor Alyssa Edwards brought a strong performance, Roxxxy pretty much won this battle within the first few seconds. How, I hear you ask? Well, by snatching off her wig to reveal ANOTHER WIG UNDERNEATH. She DOUBLE-WIGGED IT. RuPaul and Michelle Visage pretty much lost their minds. Roxxxy used wig number two to totally kill her performance of Willow Smith’s “Whip Your Hair.” However, things took an unexpected turn when Roxxxy completely broke down after the lip sync had ended. Her tearful speech about her lack of self-esteem affected Ru so much that in an unprecedented move, she let both Roxxxy and Alyssa remain in the competition. So many emotions!
14. Akashia vs Tammie Brown
We’re going all the way back to Drag Race season one for this iconic battle between Tammie Brown and Akashia. Tammie was a divisive queen from the moment she stepped into the workroom. Her ‘eccentric’ look confused both the other queens and the show’s viewers, and her attitude wasn’t the best. To add insult to injury, Tammie’s lip sync to Michelle Williams’s “We Break The Dawn” in episode two was frankly disastrous. She didn’t know the words, she couldn’t dance, and she basically gave up before she even reached the stage. In contrast, Akashia totally delivered: she owned that stage and wholly deserved to remain in the competition. To quote RuPaul, Akashia “motherf*cking broke the dawn.” Tammie headed home, to the surprise of absolutely no-one.
13. Latrice Royale vs Kenya Michaels
Oh, Kenya Michaels. You were doomed from the minute this lip sync began. First off, Kenya was up against Latrice Royale, one of the best queens in the business. She was always going to have to fight to survive. However, poor Ms. Michaels totally misjudged her performance, treating a heart-felt Aretha Franklin ballad like it was a Sia banger. She darted and danced around the stage while Latrice totally slayed with her understated performance. Kenya pulled some crazy dance moves and even whipped off her wig, while Latrice cradled her fake pregnancy bump and stayed rooted to her spot. While Latrice most definitely acted like a “Natural Woman,” Kenya failed to take any significance from the song she was performing. Her number was up.
12. Detox vs Jinkx Monsoon
This was one heck of a quirky lip sync from two undoubtedly quirky queens. Season five frontrunners Detox and Jinx Monsoon had to battle it out while performing “Malambo No. 1,” an ‘eccentric’ Peruvian song that mixes Latin themes with opera. Yeah, really. Luckily, both Detox and Jinxx totally rock the ‘weirdo’ vibe. They were both able to pull out the stops and deliver a hilariously wacky performance. It’s not often that Drag Race features non-English language songs in lip syncs, so this was definitely one to remember! It is a bit cringe-worthy when Roxxxy commented that Jinxx should be “worried,” though… Jinxx only went on to win the entire freaking season! This lip sync really showcased the future winner’s comedy and performance skills. How could Roxxxy not see that? Whatever…
11. Manila Luzon vs Delta Work
Fan favorite Manila Luzon knocked this lip sync out of the park back in season three. She delivered a hilarious and emotional performance to Donna Summer‘s “MacArthur Park,” totally outshining competitor Delta Work. Delta’s choice of outfit didn’t exactly do her any favors: wearing a novelty t-shirt next to someone who’s wearing a gorgeous gown is never going to go well. Unfortunately, Delta’s performance skills turned out to be just as lackluster as her fashion sense. Manila’s cross-eyed, practically manic delivery of the song was always going to be a winner, and Delta was always destined to leave the competition. To be honest, nobody really missed her mean-girl antics and sub-par drag.
10. Raven vs Jujubee
The first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars gave us one of the most emotional lip syncs of all time. BFFs Raven and Jujubee had to battle it out to remain in the competition, and it was clear that neither one wanted to send the other home. Their performance to Robyn‘s “Dancing On My Own” was basically heartbreaking, especially since both queens were basically sobbing by the end of it. Even the judges looked like they didn’t want to be watching the scene unfolding before them. Things got even worse when Jujubee found herself unable to breathe after the performance and almost collapsed. Luckily, RuPaul showed mercy and saved both queens, to the clear joy of fellow contestant Chad Michaels. Just like Jujubee, we wanted fried chicken after watching these emotional scenes.
9. India Ferrah vs Mimi Imfurst
This dramatic season three lip sync led to the coining of the immortal phrase “drag is not a contact sport.” When India Ferrah and Mimi Imfurst found themselves in the bottom two, it was clear that neither queen wanted to go home. Unfortunately, Mimi took her passion a little bit too far and decided to get physical with India. When India danced her way towards the judges’ table, Mimi responded by PICKING HER UP and throwing her back onto the main stage. India’s screams of “GET HER OFF OF ME” made it clear that this stunt was not a mutual decision. RuPaul was less than impressed with Mimi’s behavior and consequently sent her home. India claimed to find the incident genuinely scary, and we can kinda believe her. Mimi was a piece of work.
8. Jujubee vs Tatianna
Let’s all have a moment of silence for Tatianna, a queen who was essentially assassinated by Jujubee in this season two lip sync. Jujubee is an incredible performer and Tati was always going to have her work cut out. However, she didn’t do herself any favors when it became clear she didn’t know the lyrics to the song she was supposed to be lip syncing. Tatianna claimed that Aretha Franklin’s song “Something He Can Feel” was simply too difficult for anyone to lip sync to. However, Jujubee managed it just fine. Tati was sent home to work on her performance skills, while Jujubee stormed through the rest of the season. To be fair, Tatianna was very new to drag when she first appeared on the show: she just needed time to perfect her act. And perfect it she did…
7. Alyssa Edwards vs Tatianna
The Tatianna who came back to compete on All Stars2 was a totally different queen to the one we saw in season two. Her look was more polished, her personality more vibrant, and her lip syncing skills infinitely better. In this battle, both Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna were fighting for the right to return to the competition. They’d both been eliminated previously, but RuPaul had decided to give one of them a second chance. However, their incredible and practically synchronized performance to Rihanna‘s “Shut Up And Drive” meant that both Tati and Alyssa were brought back. I mean, even their outfits matched. This was a duet that was always meant to happen, and we’re so glad it did. Everyone was pleased for these returning queens… Except for PhiPhi O’Hara, if her face was anything to go by. Oh dear.
6. Sasha Velour vs Shea Coulee
Oh my goodness. This recent lip sync battle to Whitney Houston‘s “So Emotional” makes ME feel so emotional. In an unprecedented twist, the finale of Drag Race season nine basically turned into one massive lip-sync-off between the final four queens. While all of the performances were incredible, this semi-final lip sync between BFFs Shea Coulee and Sasha Velour is a cut. It’s simply outstanding. Poor Shea could do nothing but helplessly watch as Sasha used hidden bunches of rose-petals to deliver an unforgettable performance. The moment when Sasha took off her wig to reveal even more petals hidden there… WE ALL GOT SHIVERS. No wonder this talented and artistic queen went on to win the season. She fully deserved it after this performance!
5. Bebe Zahara Benet vs Ongina
This season one lip sync was so difficult to judge that RuPaul actually had to leave the room for a while before she made her decision. Bebe and Ongina were both insanely talented queens, and it was sheer bad luck that landed them both in the bottom two that week. Their performance of Britney Spears’s “Stronger” was breathtakingly good, and it looked for a moment like Ru was going to have to save both queens. However, the Drag Race producers clearly didn’t let that happen, and a clearly distraught Ru had to send Ongina home. It was a controversial decision at the time, but Ru’s choice was eventually vindicated: Bebe went on to become Drag Race‘s first ever winner. Still… Did Ongina REALLY have to go? She was just so freaking good! Even Ru admitted that she had winning potential!
4. Naomi Smalls vs Acid Betty
Acid Betty definitely got the “villain edit” back in season eight, meaning a lot of fans weren’t exactly sad to see her leave the competition. Still, at least she went out with a bang! Betty had to lip sync against Naomi Smalls while both were still wearing their Madonna-inspired runway looks. Unfortunately for Betty, this meant performing in a fake baby bump that had model birds sticking out of it. It can’t have been an easy feat, but unfortunately, Naomi Smalls still brought a way better performance. Naomi stripped down to reveal some seriously cute lingerie and basically channeled peak Madonna for her lip sync to “Causing a Commotion.” Acid Betty didn’t stand a chance, pregnant stomach or not.
3. Ginger Minj & Sasha Belle vs Jaidynn Diore Fierce & Tempest DuJour
And the award for the most hilariously bizarre lip sync ever goes to… This season seven performance! Episode eight of this season saw the queens paired up with an eliminated contestant in a “conjoined twins challenge.” Yup – they literally had to attach themselves to each other. It made for one heck of a lip sync, with Ginger Minj and Sasha Belle battling it out against fellow twins Jaidynn Diore Fierce and Tempest DuJour. Things got wild when Ginger and Sasha pulled out scissors and decided to surgically separate themselves mid-performance, leaving the judges in stitches. The irony of the song that the queens were lip syncing – Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” – only added to the hilarity of the situation. Jaidynn and Tempest simply couldn’t top Ginger and Sasha’s antics, and Jaidynn headed home. It was certainly a unique lip sync, to say the least.
2. Peppermint vs Sasha Velour
Season nine’s final lip sync battle between Peppermint and Sasha Velour was breathtaking, to say the least. Both of these queens are insanely talented, and both arguably deserved to take home the crown. However, Sasha pulled out another stunning performance that saw her clinch the crown. In a high-energy lip sync to another Whitney Houston classic – “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” – Sasha pulled a reverse-Valentina. She appeared on stage wearing a mask but willingly removed it piece-by-piece until her full face was visible. While Peppermint danced her heart out, she simply couldn’t beat Sasha’s theatrics. Plus, Sasha’s dress… It was like a futuristic wedding gown fused with a gothic, Cersei Lannister-esque piece! It was too much. America’s current Drag Superstar definitely deserves her crown.
1. Honey Mahogany vs Vivienne Pinay
The lip sync battle between season five queens Honey Mahogany and Vivienne Pinay was so genuinely terrible that it’s become iconic. It was the first double elimination in Drag Race herstory, and frankly, you can see why. Honey and Vivienne both utterly butchered Britney Spears’s “Oops, I Did It Again.” Like, neither of them looked like they were even trying. While Honey occasionally ventured into something you might call a performance, her outfit was so awful that you couldn’t even concentrate on her lip sync. The lack of applause when the song ended said it all. RuPaul was not impressed, and consequently dismissed both queens. The lip sync became a benchmark of exactly what not to do when you’re fighting for your place in the competition. Like, a little bit of energy would have been great, guys! Apparently, that was just too much to ask.