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From Mimi Imfurst slinging India Ferrah over her shoulders to Valentina’s premonition of the COVID pandemic and Sasha Velour’s rose-petal ruse, the lip-sync format on RuPaul’s Drag Race is responsible for some of the most iconic moments in reality television. Since 2009, hundreds of drag entertainers have deployed all of the tricks in their arsenal to lip-sync for either a) their lives, b) their legacy c) the crown, and there’s often discourse online as to which smackdown reigns supreme. Here, we have put ourselves in great peril by ranking the 12 best lip-syncs of all time. ‘Peril’ is a word we just used because a lot of fierce battles didn’t make the list, and we anticipate… backlash. The 12 showdowns on this list are a result of overall impact and whether they’re, to this day, still eliciting gay gasps and so forth. Read ahead and if you have strong opinions please let us know. We! Love! It!

(FYI: a lot of these lip-syncs aren’t available on YouTube in HD, so we apologise for the shoddy clips.)

12. Raja vs Carmen Carrera – Straight Up

Who won? Raja

It was a battle of the Heathers in this saucy season three lip-sync, which saw Raja face off against Jennifer Lopez’s extremely close friend Carmen Carrera to the beat of Paula Abdul’s sensual anthem Straight Up. Never has a lip-sync been so raunchy, with the two queens stripping layers off until they gyrated on each other. It was essentially soft porn and directly responsible for the sexual awakenings of millions of queers around the world. Margaret Cho’s face? Said it all.

11. Alyssa Edwards vs Coco Montrese – Cold Hearted

Who won? Coco Montrese

Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese’s years-long rivalry came to a dramatic head after season five’s brilliant telenovela challenge – aka the challenge in which the former earned a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Best On-Screen Orgasm [that might need fact-checking]. Alyssa displayed all of her signature dance tricks, including a jaw-dropping jump split, while Coco’s mouth was at the forefront as she instructed the panel to watch her lip-sync to Paula Abdul’s fast-paced lyrics. Honestly, this one could’ve gone either way.

10. Anetra vs Sasha Colby – I’m In Love With a Monster

Who won? Sasha Colby

It says a hell of a lot about Anetra’s skillset that, just a few years into her drag career, she managed to keep up with the legendary Sasha Colby. The duck-walker split, kicked and flipped on the stage – providing life, of course, in the process – but it wasn’t enough to shake the former Miss Continental, who perfected the nuances of Fifth Harmony’s Hotel Transylvania anthem with her fierce “I love it babe” moment, manic ponytail flips and Black Widow-inspired hero pose. Sasha quite literally breathed power. That’s mother!

9. Manila Luzon vs Delta Work – MacArthur Park

Who won? Manila Luzon

To this day, we don’t have the foggiest as to why Delta Work smugly performed Donna Summer’s melting cake disco banger to her bracelet – and we never will – but it was high drag and we’re still obsessed. Manila, however, is the star here; dressed as Big Bird, the season three runner-up delivered one of the franchise’s campest lip-syncs in herstory with her maniacal facial expressions and intense body movements. Hot take: no queen, past or present, would’ve been able to defeat Manila in this lip-sync.

8. Jinkx Monsoon vs Detox – Malambo No 5

Who won? Jinkx Monsoon

Storyline matters here. In the Untucked ahead of this lip-sync, Roxxxy Andrews and Detox confidently bragged that the latter would easily boot Jinkx Monsoon, who was fresh off a record-breaking nine consecutive weeks in the top (which has, to this day, never been replicated), out of the competition. Jinkx, however, derailed Rolasktox’s plans to reach the final together as she grinded and booby-popped Detox into fourth place. Although Jinkx and Rolasktox – also consisting of Alaska – are now all close buds, seeing her defeat Detox was akin to a victim conquering her bullies; setting the stage for one of the most satisfying crownings of all time.

7. Denali vs Kimora Hall – 100% Pure Love

Who won? Denali

Denali has openly admitted that she was “noguing” in this lip-sync, but it doesn’t take away from the pure euphoria viewers – and the rest of her sisters – felt as she hit every single beat and nuance to Crystal Waters’ underrated banger 100% Pure Love. RuPaul didn’t even need to declare that she’s “made my decision” – Kimora Hall was bulldozed, and she knew it. Remember when Kandy Muse called Denali “forgettable”? According to YouTube, six million people disagree.

6. Dida Ritz vs The Princess – This Will Be

Who won? Dida Ritz

Determined to bring justice to the late Natalie Cole in front of Natalie Cole, Dida Ritz stomped the main stage in her gladiator-inspired couture and blessed the franchise with one of the most memorable individual lip-syncs to date. Dips, death drops, flips, wig reveals – all of the classic drag tricks – weren’t necessary, Dida simply embodied the warmth and optimism of Natalie’s classic soul anthem as she used every square inch of the stage. Honestly, we get chills watching this back because, like Latrice Royale said, “That is what a lip sync for your life is baby! That is high drag at its finest.”

5. Laganja Estranja vs Trinity K Bonet – Physical

Who won? Laganja Estranja

Dua Lipa’s Physical is the perfect pop hit for acrobatic stunts, and Laganja Estranja made sure we all knew she’s just as bendy – if not bendier – than her season six run. Making her epic comeback with a jump split (because, of course), Laganja shat on the stage with stunt after stunt as if, in the words of Bob the Drag Queen, she had something “against the girl on the lipstick”. Trinity, one of the most versatile lip-syncers the show has ever seen, demolished the performance (as per) with her smoulder  and intense choreography but, since it was eight years since her last Drag Race stint, this was Laganja’s moment.  If Trinity had been up against anyone else, there’s no doubt in our mind that she would’ve taken the win.

4. Sasha Velour vs Shea Couleé – So Emotional

Who won? Sasha Velour

Ahead of the first-ever sudden death lip-sync smackdown for the crown, it was widely assumed that Shea Couleé still had season nine in the bag. Not only had she won four main challenges, a feat only accomplished by Sharon Needles and Alaska (at the time), but she proved that she could conquer the stage (as witnessed during Category Is). Enter Sasha Velour. In one of the most iconic Drag Race scenes ever, the bald-headed queen – who never had the chance to lip-sync – blocked Shea from a top two position with her rose-petal extravaganza and intense physicality to Whitney Houston’s So Emotional. Sasha’s stunt impacted the show like never before, raising the bar for future lip-syncs and ruveals. Without her rose-petals, we wouldn’t have been introduced to Asia O’Hara’s butterflies. Think! About! That!

3. Yvie Oddly vs Brooke Lynn Hytes – Sorry Not Sorry

Who won? Double shantay!

This was the gay Superbowl of 2019. After bombing Snatch Game, Drag Race’s most important challenge, Brooke Lynn Hytes and Yvie Oddly embraced their inner Cirque de Soleil in a sickening display of acrobatics and ruveals for Demi Lovato’s Sorry Not Sorry. It went viral on social media, attracting praise from lip sync powerhouses such as Kennedy Davenport, Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna, and almost caused an earthquake of epic proportions after gays across the globe let out a collective “YAAAAAAS!”

2. Anetra vs Marcia Marcia Marcia – Boss Bitch

Who won? Anetra

Admittedly, this might be a case of recency bias but we – like you, c’mon – can’t stop thinking about this Boss Bitch showdown. To the beat of Doja Cat’s electropop-rap smasher, Anetra and Marcia Marcia Marcia served bad-bitch energy with their synchronised summersault (slash Free Willy homage) and backbend combo (slash The Exorcist homage) that basically secured Drag Race another 20 Emmys. Michelle Visage even declared this as her favourite smackdown of all time.

1. Tatianna vs Alyssa Edwards – Shut Up and Drive

Who won? Double shantay!

When Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna sashayed down the runway with the look of spunk in their eyes [mind out of the gutter please], we knew some Buffy-style slayage was about to occur on the main stage. We weren’t wrong: they were out for blood. From their matching yin-and-yang corsets to Alyssa’s gravity-defying jump split and Tatianna’s “gangsta” move, it was lip-sync perfection from start-to-finish. Shoutout to Alaska’s grandma-clapping!