Lip-syncing is a visual spectacle and is one of the most mesmerizing forms of entertainment. But what are the essential ingredients that make for a masterful performance?
Many young gay boys—me included—locked their bedrooms and transformed into their favorite pop stars in front of a mirror, with a hairbrush as their mic. We found a way to dive into our fantasies without knowing other kids were doing the same; we just did what felt intuitive and fun. A staple in drag performances, many queer performer traces their penchant for the lip-sync performance in those insular moments. Today, it has evolved into that excellent creative skill, and has since impacted mainstream culture because of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Its enchantment comes from a mixture of illusion, storytelling, and talent leading to a unique and joyful experience for the audience.
After 15 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, our expectations of lip-sync performances have increased to stratospheric levels. It’s a good thing, because we see the artists get more creative. Still, it’s also bad because sometimes, we forget the essence of it all and get inundated with unnecessary tricks worthy of cringe to keep up with the audience’s high expectations. A drag artist’s extraordinary ability to captivate through lip-syncing may seem like a mutant power, but there is a structure behind it that makes us go, “Wow!” Upon close inspection—believe it or not—only three essential details make an outstanding lip-sync performance.
A powerful lip sync entails error-free synchronization of the lip movements with the song’s lyrics. This is a no-brainer, as we automatically lose our hold on the illusion or the fantasy when the performer “watermelons” the lyrics.
@mldaniel Cold Hearted Lipsync #alyssaedwards #cocomontrese #dragrace #coldhearted #viral #parati #foryoupage ♬ sonido original – Daniel ML
Coco Montrese pointed to her lips to ensure we saw how she caught every syllable of the song, Cold Hearted, by Paula Abdul (RuPaul’s Drag Race season 5). Lady Morgana didn’t serve us with the actual choreography of the ubiquitous Tala by Sarah Geronimo. However, still, she charmed us with her ultra-expressive formation of words that led her to win the first LPFYR of Drag Race Philippines.
A well-realized rendition of a song through gestures and body language makes a successful lip-sync performance. Master the music, mouth the words, chew, digest, and let them take over your body. This is the performer’s creative portrayal of a song in visible form, whether by dancing, gymnastics, drama, or physical comedy.
@__allrpdr__ Responder a @auntiecalvin Tatiana vs Alyssa Edwards Lip Sync! All Stars S2 🎵: Shut Up and Drive by Rihanna #rupaulsdragrace #Dragrace #Rpdr #lipsync ♬ Quiet Sounds – Colin Riley
Considered one of the best lip-sync performances in the show’s whole run, Alyssa Edwards and Tatiana’s Shut Up And Drive (RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 2) was a display of flawless movements that fully embodied the spirit of the song and the competition. Also regarded as one of the most remarkable moments was the Sorry Not Sorry battle between the season’s top contenders, Yvie Oddly and Brooke Lynn Hytes (RuPaul’s Drag Race season 8). Yvie defied physics with her contortion while Brooke Lynn used her ballet prowess on the other side of the stage—what a show! Both examples were deserving of their double shantays. Latrice Royale, on the other hand, stayed at the same spot and delivered the correct emotions during her (You Make Me Feel) A Natural Woman lip-sync (RuPaul’s Drag Race season 4).
Perhaps one that’s sometimes overlooked but equally as important as the ones mentioned above is the performance flow. A great lip-sync number takes the audience on a journey, providing opportunities for wild fierceness and moments to breathe. Laganja’s fun to watch because she knows exactly when to do a shocking stunt. An artist’s skillful understanding of their performance impacts the viewer’s experience and maintains excitement. Marina Summers gave us one of the best reveals in memory when she lip-synced against Xilouete. It still gives me gay shivers whenever I rewatch it.
@abehlavy always our filipina winnah! 👑 #dragracephilippines #dragraceph #DRPH #marinasummers ♬ original sound – Abegayle
When all these come together, they not only give new life to a song but shape joyous and sometimes very emotional experiences for the audience. Look at Sasha Velour’s spectacular and tectonic shifting So Emotional performance against Shea Coulee from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 finale. Her interpretation of the song using her facial expressions, body language, and well-paced prop build-up led to the pivotal moment.
@houseofrealness #sashavelour & #sheacoulee’s iconic #lipsync performance to #whitneyhouston’s “so emotional” 🌹❤️ #dragrace #rpdr #rupaulsdragrace #drag #dragqueen #lgbt #foryou ♬ So Emotional – Whitney Houston