RuPaul: Champion (Album Review)

For weeks, I’d heard rumblings that RuPaul was preparing the release of a new album called Champion, set for release after the finale of her Logo show, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Admittedly, aside from the obvious work (“Supermodel”) , I’d never really given the girl much thought–much less did I think she could entertain for an entire album’s worth of time.

I’ve since learned: Never underestimate a drag queen and her disco.

At almost fifty years old now (just how old is that in drag years, anyway?) RuRu proves she’s still ready to dance with Champion, a fabulous collection of stomping, hands-in-the-air dance gems. No purple leotards, no disco sticks…just a microphone and a weave-ful of fierce.

As one might expect, RuPaul dominates with the tracks crafted especially for the dancefloor, including “Jealous Of My Boogie” and “LadyBoy.” Sure, there’s plenty of silly on the surface, but underneath is an equally addictive series of beckoning bass lines and squeaky synth hooks.

Despite commanding a surprisingly capable voice however, Ru indulges in a fair share of the AutoTune technique that has become so popular with the kids these days. I suppose it’s for good reason: Lest we forget, it was the original Drag Queen herself, Cher, who did the damn thing first with “Believe” back in ’98, so why shouldn’t the queens have their warbling robo-sounds back once again?

As per usual with a dance-pop album, it’s always refreshing to hear something other than a “booty on the floor” number which is why tracks like “Champion,” “Main Event,” and “Destiny Is Mine” especially soar, laced with positive messages in line with some of Ru’s motivational mantras like “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” A little positive energy and a lot of motivation–now that’s something worth celebrating.

The same goes for “Never Go Home Again,” which is perhaps the album’s shining peak. Starting off as a slightly melodramatic torch tale of breaking free from a bad situation at home, Ru soars higher and higher above ripples of moody disco throbs only a hair below the production level of Madge‘s Confessions On A Dancefloor until finally bursting into fuller trance euphoria of acceptance: “Babies take flight, never say never / There’s a home for you here where love is unconditional.”

By the time “Devil Made Me Do It” and “Put Your Hands Up” (featuring Lady Bunny) roll around, all that body glitter and eyelash glue start drying up and the fun meter verges on empty (perhaps you’re simply out of Ecstacy at this point). It doesn’t matter though, because you’ve already spent the better part of the album dancing the night away.

Honestly, by the time the fourth track “Tranny Chaser” comes rolling around with its infectious snaps, claps, and tongue-in-chic silliness rocking back and forth (“May the fierce be with you!”), it’s clear that Ru’s already shut down the game. Oh, and since you’re wondering: Yeah, the song is as good as the title implies.

DL: RuPaul – LadyBoy

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