We’re back for more, bitches! First, a special shoutout to this week’s drag artist in residence, Miss Stacy Layne Matthews! Always good to see you, Miss Henny.
Now let’s get down to bizness.
It’s always been our contention that the song-and-dance challenges are the most difficult of all the recurring Drag Race challenges. Early in the show’s run, we used to opine that they put the queens through their paces like no other challenge, even if most of the queens won’t use these skills during their careers. How wrong we were on that last point. Partially because of the shift in drag popularity, partially because of Drag Race’s role in that shift, and partially because of social media opening unheard-of possibilities for promotion, a lot of Drag Race alums who never saw themselves as singers have wound up releasing quite a few singles and videos. Others have made careers in musical theater. What was once a bit of reality competition hoop-jumping based on Ru’s own career has become a showcase or launch pad for a lot of musically-based talent.
Which is to say that the stakes are high for these challenges, higher still once you factor the All-Star aspect into it. These queens have done the work and are expected to show up as polished as any pop star. And those who have no musical experience, while at a disadvantage, are still expected to come in at this point ready to give it their best shot.
The results this time around were good, but not exactly legendary. We’d say the judging shook out pretty well, with the right people getting criticized and the right people getting praised. It was hard to deny the stage presence of Valentina just as it was hard to deny that Monet’s performance was a spotlight-grabber. It’s also perhaps not a coincidence that Valentina and Monet had two of the more well-realized, character-based looks for the numbers. Only Naomi Smalls was at their level in terms of stage looks.
Girl, you may think you’re here putting the T in the LGB but last night? You were putting it in the CUN. We’re just saying. We enjoy a good bit of entertaining reality TV villainy, but it’s a lot less entertaining when it becomes an overt act of bullying. There’s a lot about Gia’s performance on this show – and it is a performance, although not necessarily one far from her real personality – that can be fairly entertaining. She’s shady as fuck, but in our opinion, that’s not exactly the worst thing you can say about a nasty queen. Still, this is coming off like we’re defending her when we truly don’t mean to. She was a horrible bitch and it stopped being entertaining fairly quickly. We’re happy to see most of the other queens have her clocked at this point. Anyway, this look is cute enough, but we’re not gagging. Also, her stage performance was a big indicator or why she went so hard after Farrah. Gia knew she sucked so she made sure to zero in on the person most likely to suck worse.
Latrice is so smoothly professional and perpetually on point that we fear she may not wind up getting her due in this competition. We have zero critiques, but we also don’t have much else to say. She’s great. Love watching her. But we think she may need to step things up in this pit of highly talented vipers.
MISS GIRL. You had us worried all night, bitch.
Her performance was terrible and her stage look was so bad it had us wondering if perhaps the early-season queens aren’t up to the level of some of these latter-day bitches. But she rallied with this stunning look, even if it is a bit old-school. Still, you can’t argue with old-school if it’s done well. She needs to do something gag-worthy soon, though. She’s fading early.
Trinity is here to slay, not play. She’s been consistently good in everything she’s done so far. She’s not trying to start drama or play any games and we think the other queens haven’t quite reckoned with how committed she is just yet. She was good-not-great in the musical number, but flawless on the runway.
She’s come back quite the polished, professional and ravenously hungry queen. Trinity’s a force to be reckoned with, but Valentina’s like a drag hurricane. And a very self-aware one to boot. She’s in it to win it and just about everything she did this week was perfect. Her Selena drag was amazing, her performance was fun, her runway look was gorgeous and her lip synch was pretty epic.
Naomi’s quietly doing the work and doing it fairly well, but she’s another one who needs to step it up. The judges seem to like her and she’s giving them no reasons to criticize her, but she’s not standing out yet. Loved both her stage and runway looks, but we still think she’s working the wrong face. She should be doing high-fashion makeup to go with the high-fashion lewks she’s so good at working.
Sloppy drag. That’s what we kept getting from Monique this week. Her stage look was half-assed and her performance was rough and didn’t project to the audience. Her makeup and wig work has looked pretty janky too. We think she’s super-talented but she’s struggling way more than she should be.
Farrah is gorgeous and when it comes to pop star/show girl drag, she can’t be beat. But she has one look and that’s it. Worse, she clearly doesn’t have the maturity for this competition. America’s next drag all-star can’t be crying every 15 minutes. She spent all her time whining and getting on the nerves of the very competitors who were going to have the power to send her home. Not a bright strategy on her part.
LOVED Monet’s performance and look, but we tend to think the judges over-praised the runway look. It’s polished and fully realized, which is a good and rare thing coming from her. But it’s also really, really stale.
Still, we were in full agreement that Monet and Valentina deserved the top slots. They both nailed the challenge in specific ways and made their performances their own. As for the lip synch, it seemed pretty clear who was going to nail it from the opening notes. Some times a song and artist is so clearly favored by one challenger in a lip synch that the other one doesn’t stand a chance. Valentina served up exactly what the song called for. We’re not sure why Monet picked such an off-brand look for lip-cynching an Ariana Grande bop, but it was definitely working against her when it shared a stage with Miss Latina Shimmy and her non-stop moves. Monet brought some boldness and comedy into it, which was a smart move, but it Valentina simply interpreted it better.
We were honestly shocked she sent Farrah home, but we think it indicates just how irritating and unsuited for the competition she must have been. Think about it: Valentina’s strategic and would have had good reason to send the more threatening Monique home but instead she opted to potentially damage what friendship she has with Farrah by sending her packing instead. You’ve gotta figure she must have been one annoying crybaby for that to happen.
[Stills: VH1 via Tom and Lorenzo]