A Lip Sync Performance, most commonly referred to as a Lip Sync For Your Life, is a crucial aspect of RuPaul's Drag Race. Lip-sync performances have made an appearance at the end of almost every episode, and are used as a way for Ru to determine which queen to eliminate from the race.
A lip-sync performance consists of two queens (with some exceptions) lip syncing to a song by a female vocalist, with the expectation that they will dance and pull other tricks while this is going on. This performance is then edited down into a 2-minute clip for use during the episode.
Throughout the series several lip-syncs have resulted in memorable and controversial moments; lip syncs are often the source of the most publicity for the show.
Lip Sync For Your LifeA Lip Sync For Your Life is the most common style of lip sync used on the show. It has so far made an appearance on every non-All Stars season of the show.
At the end of each episode, the two queens who performed worst in that week's challenge will be placed up for elimination, indicating that they must lip sync for their life. Before the lip sync begins, Ru will state the following to the queens:
"Two queens stand before me. Ladies, this is your last chance to impress me, and save yourself from elimination. The time has come... for you to lip sync... FOR. YOUR. LIFE. Good luck, and don't fuck it up."
Following the lip sync, the queen who (in Ru's opinion) performed best will be told "Shanté, you stay," while the eliminated queen will be asked to "Sashay away." In the case of particularly good lip syncs, both queens may be saved by Ru, and in the case of particularly poor lip syncs, both queens may be eliminated.
Final Lip Sync
While still referred to as a "Lip Sync For Your Life", the final lip sync of each season follows a slightly different format, depending on the season.
Lip Sync For Your Lives
The Lip Sync For Your Lives was a special variation of the Lip Sync For Your Life used during All Stars 1. It was created to deal with the season's unique "teams" twist, and also introduced the panic button, which was only used during this season.
At the end of each episode, the two teams that performed worst in that week's challenge would have to select one of their members to represent the team in the lip sync. Before the lip sync began, the two teammates not lip syncing would step off to the side of the stage, and Ru would say the following:
"Two All Stars stand before me. Ladies, this is your last chance to impress me, and save your team from elimination. The time has come... for you to lip sync... FOR. YOUR. LIVES. Good luck, and don't fuck it up."
During the first minute of the lip sync, if the teammate not lip syncing felt that her partner was under-performing in the lip sync ("having a she-mergency," as it was referred to on the show), she would have the option to hit a "panic button" and take her partner's place in the lip sync. However, each team was allowed to use the panic button only once during the season.
Regardless of whether or not the panic button was used, following the lip sync Ru would announce the safety of the team he felt performed better in the lip sync with "Shanté, you stay," and would ask the team that was eliminated to "Sashay away."
Final Lip Syncs
The final two lip syncs of this season followed a different format than the one laid out by the rest of the season. In both cases, the two queens performing were lip syncing for themselves rather than on behalf of their team. As a result, these two lip syncs were referred to as a "Lip Sync For Your Life".
Lip Sync For Your Legacy
A Lip Sync For Your Legacy was a special style of lip sync used during All Stars 2. Notably, this format led to the queens eliminating each other rather than Ru eliminating them.
At the end of each episode, Ru would announce the two queens that performed best in that week's challenge as the "Top All Stars of the week." Ru would also select the 2-3 queens who performed worst in that week's challenge to be up for elimination. After this, the bottom queens would be given the chance in the workroom to defend their case for remaining in the competition to the Top 2 of the week. The Top 2 would then select a tube of lip stick bearing the name of one of the bottom queens, representing who they would eliminate if they were to win the lip sync. Next, all the queens would return to the main stage, with the Top 2 queens standing at the front of the runway, and Ru would say the following:
"Two top All Stars stand before me. Ladies, this is your chance to impress me, win $10,000, and earn the power, to give one of the bottom queens the chop. The time has come... for you to lip sync... FOR. YOUR. LEGACY. Good luck, and don't fuck it up."
Following the lip sync, Ru would select the queen he felt did the best in the lip sync as the winner of the week's challenge, saying "You're a winner, baby." The winning queen would then reveal who she had chosen to eliminate, and that queen would be asked to "Sashay away" by Ru.
Final Lip Sync
While still referred to as a "Lip Sync For Your Legacy", the final lip sync of this season followed a slightly different format. The All Stars of the season compete in the last "Lip Sync For Your Legacy", with Ru selecting a winner based on the lip sync, as well as each queen's performance throughout the entire season.
Lip Sync For The Crown
The Lip Sync For The Crown was a unique twist on the lip sync format used for the Season 9 finale. Rather than Ru simply stating the winner during the live finale, it was revealed that the remaining four queens would have to compete in a bracket-style lip sync tournament in order to win the season.
At the beginning of the finale, a large wheel displaying the faces of all four queens was brought out. The queen selected by this wheel was given the chance to choose who she would compete against in the first round of the bracket, with the two queens not chosen lip syncing against each other in the second match-up of the first round. Each of the two performances began with Ru standing at the front of the stage, the two queens behind him, and announcing to the audience:
"Two queens stand behind me. Ladies, this is your last chance to impress me and save yourself from elimination. The time has come... for you to lip sync... FOR. THE. CROWN. Good luck, and don't fuck it up."
At the end of the two matches, Ru announced in front of the live audience which of the two queens performed better with the familiar "Shanté, you stay." The eliminated queen would be asked to "Sashay away," this time with the applause of the audience behind them.
The second round of the tournament consisted of the winners of the first two match-ups (at this point the Top 2 queens of the season) lip syncing against each other in the final lip sync of the season. The performance began again with Ru at the front of the stage with the two queens behind him, this time announcing:
"Two queens stand behind me. Ladies, this is your last chance to impress me, and prove to the world that you are America's Next Drag Superstar. The time has come... for you to lip sync... FOR. THE. CROWN. Good luck, and don't fuck it up."
Following this performance, Ru chose the winner of the season based on this final lip sync as well as each queen's performance throughout the season.
RuPaul's Drag Race Lip Sync Songs
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- Some particularly memorable moments from lip syncs include:
- During Season 1, Shannel's wig fell off in the middle of her lip sync against Akashia. This was the first time a queens wig came off, accidentally or intentionally, during a lip sync.
- During Season 2, Sahara Davenport jumped off the stage into the splits in the middle of her lip sync against Morgan McMichaels. This moment was later recreated in Season 7 by Sahara's drag sister Kennedy Davenport during her lip sync against Katya.
- During a Season 3 lip sync between Mimi Imfurst and India Ferrah, Mimi picked India up carried her over her shoulders onto the stage. Mimi was reprimanded for this by RuPaul, and was eliminated as a result.
- After Yara Sofia and Carmen Carrera's lip sync during Season 3, Ru announced that neither queen would be going home. This was the show's first non-elimination.
- Near the end of Season 3, Yara broke down crying in the middle of her lip sync against Alexis Mateo, due to the stress of the competition. Several of the judges started tearing up as a result of this moment.
- During Season 5, Vivienne Pinay and Honey Mahogany became the first two queens to be eliminated in a double elimination, as Ru felt neither brought the passion he was looking for.
- Also during Season 5, Roxxxy Andrews tore off her wig during her lip sync against Alyssa Edwards, revealing another wig underneath. This was cited as one of the most memorable moments from Season 5, and Roxxxy later referenced the moment during the first challenge of All Stars 2.
- During Nina Bo'Nina Brown and Valentina's lip sync on Season 9, Ru stopped the music due to Valentina not removing a mask she was wearing which was hiding her lips and the judges ability to see her lipsync. After some opposition, Valentina removed the mask and the lip sync was started over, only for it to be revealed Valentina didn't know the words to the song. She was eliminated as a result of this. This was the first and only time RuPaul has stopped a lip sync partway through.
- Also during Season 9, in Sasha Velour and Shea Coulee's Lip Sync for the Crown Sasha removed her wig only to have a flurry of rose petals fall out from underneath it. This resulted in a standing ovation from the audience in the middle of the lip sync, and led to Sasha eliminating Shea (a queen who many thought was going to win the season.)
- In Drag Race Thailand (Season 1), the first bottom three lip-sync occured with Année Maywong, Petchra, and JAJA all lip-syncing for their lives.
- During Monet X Change and Dusty Ray Bottoms' lip sync on Season 10, Monet faked a jump split on a false beat drop of the song. This resulted on the judges laughing out loud.
- After Silver Sonic and M Stranger Fox's lipsync in Drag Race Thailand (Season 2) the judges were disappointed in their performance and made them do the lipsync again. After the second attempt Silver Sonic was asked to stay.
- Kana Warrior refusing to lip-sync against her friend Angele Anang in Drag Race Thailand (Season 2) in a genuine and emotional moment. When made to lip-sync, they both delivered an incredible performance are were asked to stay.
- In Season 11, one team performed so terribly in the challenge that RuPaul asked them all to lip-sync in the show's first ever six-way lip-sync for your life, resulting in A'keria Chanel Davenport, Honey Davenport, Plastique Tiara, Ra'Jah O'Hara, Scarlet Envy and Shuga Cain all performing one one stage.
- Detox and Katya's lip sync for your legacy on All Stars 2 was the 100th lip sync.
- During Season 10, Kameron Michaels participated in 6 lip syncs, the record for most times lip syncing in a single season, later matched by Trinity The Tuck in All Stars 4.
- BenDeLaCreme set the record for lip syncing in the most separate episodes in a single season, as she lip synced in 5 episodes of All Stars 3.
- Trinity The Tuck lipsynced a total of 9 times across two seasons, breaking the record for most lipsyncs by a single contestant in total.
- Season 5 is the first season to feature both a Double Shantay and a Double Elimination.
- It was followed by Drag Race Thailand Season 1 and Drag Race Thailand Season 2.
- Drag Race Thailand Season 1 is the first season to have three queens compete in a regular lipsync for your life (i.e. not a top 3/4 lipsync) This being between Année Maywong, JAJA, and Petchra
- It is also the first season where a queen who won the main challenge also must lipsync for their life, that being Natalia Pliacam in episode 4
- BenDeLaCreme & Darienne Lake, Alaska & Katya, BenDeLaCreme & Shangela, Monique Heart & Trinity The Tuck, and Brooke Lynn Hytes & Yvie Oddly are the only pairs of queens to lip sync against each other twice.
- Apart from RuPaul, the only male vocal songs have been by Sylvester, The B-52s, Village People, Dead or Alive, James Brown, Wham!, Alex Newell, Prince, and Ricky Martin.
- Eight lip-sync songs have been used twice:
- The first was RuPaul's "Cover Girl", used for Bebe Zahara Benet and Nina Flowers's lip sync in Season 1 and Sahara Davenport and Shangela's lip-sync in Season 2.
- The second was Britney Spears's "Stronger", used for Bebe and Ongina's lip sync in Season 1 and Peppermint and Trinity Taylor's lip sync tournament battle in Season 9.
- The third was Lady Gaga's "Born This Way", used for Milan and Jiggly Caliente's lip-sync in Season 4 and Meannie Minaj and Morrigan's lip-sync in Drag Race Thailand (Season 1)
- The fourth was Britney Spears's "Toxic", used for Alisa Summers and Jiggly Caliente's lip-sync in Season 4 and JAJA, Année Maywong and Petchra in Drag Race Thailand (Season 1)
- The fifth was Janet Jackson’s “Nasty”, used for Jujubee and Manila Luzon's lip-sync in All Stars 1 and Asia O'Hara and Kameron Michaels' lip sync tournament battle in Season 10.
- The sixth was RuPaul's "Born Naked", used for Ginger Minj, Kennedy Davenport, Pearl, and Violet Chachki's final lip-sync in Season 7 and Silver Sonic and M Stranger Fox's lip-sync in Drag Race Thailand (Season 2).
- The seventh was RuPaul's "Sissy That Walk", used for Adore Delano, Bianca Del Rio, Courtney Act, and Darienne Lake's final lip-sync in Season 6 and Latrice Royale and Monique Heart's LaLaPaRUza lip-sync in All Stars 4.
- The eighth was The Eurythmics' "Would I Lie to You" used for Jade and Rebecca Glasscock's lip-sync in Season 1 and Sum Ting Wong and Vinegar Strokes's lip-sync in RuPaul's Drag Race UK (Season 1)
- The first two lip sync repeats were both songs originally used in Season 1, and both in lip syncs won by Bebe Zahara Benet.
- The third and fourth reused songs were both from season 4 and both lipsyncs won by Jiggly Caliente.
- The sixth and seventh reused songs were both the top 4 lipsyncs of their season where the queen eliminated had been lipsyncing the week prior. They are also both RuPaul songs.
- Three out of the four Madonna songs lip-synced on the show were used in Snatch Game episodes.
- The majority of artists/bands have only been lip-synced to once, with some notable exceptions:
- RuPaul with 25 songs (one with Martha Wash, two with Big Freedia).
- RuPaul has been performed 28 times as Covergirl, Born Naked, and Sissy That Walk have all been used twice.
- Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande (one as a feature) and Madonna with 5 songs respectively.
- Although Spears has been performed 7 times as Stronger and Toxic were used twice.
- Lady Gaga, Paula Abdul and Nicki Minaj (one as a feature) with 4 songs respectively.
- Although Gaga has been performed 5 times as Born This Way was used twice.
- Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Miley Cyrus (one as Hannah Montana), Donna Summer, Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera & P!nk with 3 songs respectively.
- Jackson has also been performed 4 times as Nasty was used twice.
- Wynonna Judd, Patti LaBelle, Martha Wash (one with RuPaul), Pussycat Dolls, Cher, En Vogue (one as a feature), Blondie, Gladys Knight (One as Gladys Knight & the Pips), The Pointer Sisters, Katy Perry, Diana Ross, Big Freedia (Both Features), Fantasia, Robyn, Chaka Khan, & Michelle Williams (one with Destiny's Child) with 2 songs respectively.
- Eurythmics have been performed twice as Would I Lie to You? has been used twice.
- RuPaul with 25 songs (one with Martha Wash, two with Big Freedia).
- Besides RuPaul, Britney Spears is the first artist to be lipsynced two separate times (in Season 1 and Season 4), quickly followed by Donna Summer (in Season 3 and Season 4)
- Spears is also the first artist besides RuPaul to have a song used twice, being Stronger in Season 1 and Season 9
- Spears is also the first artist besides RuPaul to be lipsynced twice in the same season on two separate episodes, with I Wanna Go and Stronger in Season 9
- She was followed by Nicki Minaj in Season 10 with Pound the Alarm and Bang Bang
- Whitney Houston is the first artist to be lipsynced twice in the same episode, with So Emotional and It's Not Right But It's Okay from season 9's Grande Finale
- She was followed by Janet Jackson with Nasty and If from the season 10 Grande Finale
- Besides RuPaul, Miley Cyrus is the first artist to have one of their songs used for two different premiere episodes, Party in the USA in Season 5 & (as Hannah Montana) Best of Both Worlds in Season 11.
- If counting international seasons this would be Lady Gaga, with Applause in Season 8 & Born This Way in Drag Race Thailand (Season 1).
- All Stars 2 marks the first season where the last lipsync is not a RuPaul song, with 'If I Was Your Woman' by Gladys Knight & the Pips being used.
- Since then every other final lipsync has not been a RuPaul song, with Whitney Houston in season 9, Miley Cyrus in All Stars 3, Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj in Season 10, Christina Aguilera in All Stars 4, Lady Gaga in Season 11, and Destiny's Child in Season 12.
- Alternatively, the lipsync before each finale episode in these seasons, besides All Stars 4, Season 11, and Season 12, was a RuPaul song, with Step It Up, U Wear It Well, Freaky Money, and Call Me Mother.
- Currently, only five episodes have contained more than one Lip Sync for your life/legacy/crown, those being:
- Season 9 Episode 14 "Grand Finale" with 3.
- Season 10 Episode 14 "Grande Finale" with 3.
- Holi-Slay Spectacular with 5.
- All Stars 4 Episode 6 "LaLaPaRUza" with 4.
- Season 11 Episode 14 "Grand Finale" with 3.
- Season 12 Episode 14 "Grand Finale" with 2.
- Season 11 is the only season of Drag Race/ Drag Race All Stars where a RuPaul song isn't lip-synced to.
- Excluding Top 4 and finale episodes, Season 12 was the first regular Drag Race season to include a Top 2 lip-sync (used in the two premiere episodes). However, unlike the All Stars format of naming both of the Top 2 challenge winners, the winner of each respective lip-sync was the overall winner of the episode (these being Widow Von'Du And Jaida Essence Hall respectively).
Apple Music Playlist
Listen to every lip sync for your life song on