RuPaul’s Drag Race producer spills tea on how lip-sync songs are chosen

Alyssa Edwards nad Coco Montrese lip syncing

Ever since RuPaul’s Drag Race sashayed onto our screens back in 2009, a staple of each and every episode is the lip-sync.

We’ve seen lip-syncs on the show produce iconic reality TV moments (“I’d like to keep it on, please!”), as well as jaw-dropping double shantays (Yvie Oddly and Brooke Lynn Hytes, we’re looking at you), and assassinations that frankly hurt to watch (sorry, Charlie Hides).

The purpose of each lip-sync varies. A ‘lip-sync for your life’ involves the bottom two (or more) queens fighting to stay in the competition. A ‘lip-sync for your legacy’ is reserved for each All Stars episode and sometimes, when Mama Ru is feeling truly generous, she gives us a Lip-Sync LaLaPaRuZa, à la All Stars 4, All Stars 6 and even season 14.

But just who decides on what songs we get to see queens shake their padded asses to?

RuPaul and the five finalists of RuPaul's Drag Race

Mama Ru was joined by the not one, not two but five RuPaul’s Drag Race finalists. (Screen capture via World of Wonder/VH1)

Executive producer Tom Campbell, speaking to The WOW Report, said that the team that pick each track is – unsurprisingly – comprised of “queer people who are obsessed with pop music and pop culture”.

Ultimately, though, RuPaul gets the final world. Well, it is her show, after all.

He explained:[RuPaul] will reject songs because they’re the wrong tempo, they don’t build, there’s all of these factors he’s thinking about. Back in the iPod days, when RuPaul gave you an iPod that he had loaded with music, it was a gift from God…”

Campbell describes RuPaul as “a PhD in pop culture, especially when it comes to music”.

The producer, who has been on RuPaul’s Drag Race since the first season, said it wasn’t always as easy to clear a song for use as it is today.

“We were this little show that nobody knew, we were trying to get clearances, and it was really tough.”

Now, music companies have changed their tune.

Rochelle Holguin Cappello, who is Paramount Global’s head of creative music strategy, said: “The pitches [to have their music performed on the show] include A-list artists just as frequently as emerging acts. We’ve been told so many times that it would be an artist’s dream to have their music performed on the show.”

All Stars 7 – the gag-worthy all-winners season – made herstory with Monét X Change and Jinkx Monsoon performing the first ever spoken-word lip-sync on the show, set to a monologue from Designing Women.


According to research group Luminate, songs featured in RuPaul’s Drag Race lip-syncs see an average of a 138 per cent increase in streaming the week that each episode airs.

And when Sasha Velour and Shea Coulée got “So Emotional”, Whitney Houston experienced a 650 per cent streaming boost.

With RuPaul’s Drag Race UK series four just around the corner, we can expect more wig-snatching lip-syncs to obsess over soon.