‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: the best rock and pop star Snatch Game impressions

From Bjork and Beyonce to a chain-smoking, wine-swilling Adele

Snatch Game is, without doubt, the most anticipated Drag Race challenge, so it can also be the most disappointing. Even top-tier queens have stumbled by trying to impersonate huge music stars without including any jokes  – long-term fans will remember Alyssa Edwards’ terrible Katy Perry… Thankfully, others have been more successful, so here’s an entry-level ranking of 10 Drag Race stars who parodied a famous singer and got it hilariously right.

Alexis Mateo as Alicia Keys

Season: three

This performance proves that if you can’t make your Snatch Game impersonation accurate, you’d better make it funny. Even when season three premiered in 2011, rumours about Alicia Keys‘ sexuality were old hat, but Alexis Mateo shamelessly plays her as a not-so-closeted gay woman hitting on guest judge Amber Rose. It’s all pretty silly, but it works.

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Most outrageous quote (to Amber Rose): “Call me, baby – I’m just waiting for you.”

Sharon Needles as Michelle Visage

Season: four

RuPaul’s bestie first found fame as a member of US girl band Seduction, and Sharon Needles’ stiletto-sharp impression of her is rooted in her formative years on the New York club scene. It’s audacious to make the Drag Race judge more scathing and abrasive than she really is, but Sharon gets away with it because her impersonation is so well researched. She even slips in references to legendary promoter Susanne Bartsch and iconic disco club the Limelight.

Most outrageous line: “You should have seen what me and Ru were on at the Limelight. It’s all behind us now. We were on uppers, downers, and candy corns.”

Tatianna as Britney Spears

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Season: two

Impersonating Britney Spears back in the less enlightened days of 2010, when this season premiered, was obviously a very different kettle of fish. Still, Tatianna’s impression holds up – mostly – because her facial expressions, mannerisms and accent are flawless. Some of the jokes no longer sit right, but the overall performance feels authentic and fundamentally sweet-natured.

Most outrageous line: “Kevin [Federline] liked to tip me with what he called his man-butter.”

Ginger Minj as Adele

Season: seven

Ginger Minj’s cock-er-nee accent isn’t quite so convincing to British ears, but in a way this makes her impersonation more entertaining. The real-life Adele is obviously much more switched-on than the daffy, detached character that Ginger portrays, but the parody works because it leans into the idea that she’s a chain-smoking, wine-swilling everywoman who just happened to become a superstar.

Most outrageous line: When Ru asks: “Where in England are you from?”, and Adele replies: “My house.”

Alexis Michelle as Liza Minnelli

Season: nine

For a certain type of drag queen, doing Liza is almost as fundamental as doing Cher: if you can’t get it right, you might as well hang up your wig. Alexis Michelle captures the EGOT winner’s manic grin and nervy sincerity perfectly without descending into cruelty. Her high-kicking Liza with a “z” is completely ridiculous, but also completely affectionate.

Most outrageous quote: “Mama played the Palace and she sang right to me… and to all the other homosexuals.”

Shea Couleé as Flava Flav

Season: five (All Stars)

On the one hand, picking Public Enemy legend Flava Flav for Snatch Game seems like a left-field choice. But on the other, it makes a surreal kind of sense: the rapper’s signature clock is a terrific visual cue and his exaggerated mannerisms are ripe for pastiche. Shea Couleé parodies his alpha male swagger brilliantly even before she starts flirting with Jujubee’s Eartha Kitt.

Most outrageous line: “Roses are red, buses is yellow, I just realised that you are a fella!”

Jujubee as Eartha Kitt

Season: four (All Stars)

There’s no doubt that by the time she returned for her third (!) Drag Race stint, Jujubee really understood the assignment. Her Eartha Kitt is a classic because she ratchets up everything that makes the ‘Santa Baby’ singer an enduring camp icon. Her feline mannerisms, seductively husky voice and sexually suggestive answers are spot on, but also just the right level of extra.

Most outrageous line: “I would sensually walk to the thermostat and turn the thermostat to a sensible 74.”

Katya as Björk

Season: two (All Stars)

Katya’s Björk doesn’t bear much resemblance to the visionary Icelandic musician – she basically plays her as a charming, vaguely European kook. It doesn’t matter, though, because the character is genuinely funny and Katya really commits: one minute she’s innocent blowing bubbles; the next she’s inexplicably eating her answer card. Actual Björk later said she “absolutely loved” the impression.

Most outrageous quote (to Jujubee): “I’d like to eat her hair, it reminds me of pastrami.”

Kennedy Davenport as Little Richard

Season: seven

Playing a male celebrity on Snatch Game is a risk, but one that can really pay off if you get it right. Kennedy Davenport nails it by going big, bizarre and bawdy in her impersonation of rock and roll innovator Little Richard. The random vocal runs are pure fun, while the not-so-subtle allusions to the singer’s sexuality give the whole thing a slightly risqué edge.

Most outrageous quote (in response to: ‘The dynamic duo convert the Batcave into what?) “Me and Batman and Robin have a lot in common, baby. I said: ‘A bathhouse in a dark room with glory holes’.”

Chad Michaels as Cher

Season: four

Sure, Chad Michaels is a professional Cher impersonator, but in a way this only heightens the risk: if she had sucked, it could have been catastrophic. But in a Snatch Game marred by disappointing send-ups of fellow divas Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin, Chad’s meticulous preparation and palpable respect for Cher really shines through. She doesn’t just pull off the pop queen’s signature costume changes; she also fully captures her IDGAF nonchalance.

Most outrageous quote: “I don’t know why they book me on these chicken-shit gigs, I’m a fucking Oscar winner!”

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