Kia ora and welcome to my review and power rankings for the fifth episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2 – Bosom Buddies, a classic Girl Group challenge of writing and recording a verse on a pop song.
I think fans all often overlook the fact that there’s a songwriter locked in a tiny room somewhere writing these girl group tracks on demand for Drag Race. It’s a daunting task! They have to come up with an idea that feels in-genre and on-trend, that can fit in a number of additional verses, but that’s not too good of an idea or else they’d want to sell it for use as an actual song!
I think “Bosom Buddies” joins the pantheon of the best Girl Group challenge tracks, presided over by the spectacular “Break Up (Bye Bye).” This song hits the perfect spot of a snotty, pop-punk Charlie XCX or Olivia Rodrigo tune that gives a nod to its grungy forebears likeAvril Lavigne and Veruca Salt. I would absolutely listen to it outside of the context of a Drag Race recap.
This episode included some tense interpersonal drama between Beverly Kills and Kween Kong. Beverly Kills was being young and overconfident to try to psyche herself up for a win, but that crossed the line to taunting the similarly-pressed Kween Kong and then later blaming her for snapping back.
I felt for Kween Kong in this moment. It feels like she is a queen who constantly has the expectations and assumptions of others piled onto her. I’m sure that’s down to many reasons, including being a queen of color in an overwhelmingly white space, and being such a handsome and masc-presenting man who performs in drag.
It was sad to watch this moment of reality show conflict become a trigger for Kween Kong, sending her into a spiral of negativity as she prepared for the main stage. I know some people would celebrate her turning out a strong performance after that setback. While I celebrate her success, I recognize it as a moment of sadness. This is a burden Kween has been made to carry many times over, both in and out of drag. She wants to access the same ease and joy as other queens around her, but she always has the weight of expectations, assumptions, and projections on her shoulders.
More than anything, I want for Kween Kong to never need to feel that weight again once she exits this season as an international star.
What did this Girl Groups challenge do for my Power Rankings? I’d say things have solidified even further from last week’s rank, but I’m sure some of you would have my #3 at #1 and my #5 at #4! Please sound off in the comments below if that describes you.
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Readers, start your engines… and may the best Down Under drag queen win!
Reminders: I consistently refer to Drag Race artists with their drag names and with she/her pronouns even when they are not in drag, which is the convention of the show. Some performers may have different personal pronouns. Drag is inherently brave, political, and artistic, and all drag is valid. It’s also hard to do. I’m commenting on drag artistry in how it comes across on this specific television program, but the reason I’m commenting at all is because I celebrate all drag!
RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under Season 2, Episode 5: Bosom Buddies Power Rankings
Before we get to the power rankings and this week’s “Belts, Buckles and Chains” runway theme, let’s take a moment to … appreciate … RuPaul’s unlined orange dress and giant halo of curls. Not her finest moment.
1. Hannah Conda – 2 wins (avg. rank 1.60, was 2, 3, 1, 1, Pre-Season #2)
Hannah Conda (Cameo | Instagram) delivered a flawless Girl Groups performance and another unquestionably fashionable runway. Even if RuPaul is more obsessed with Spankie Jackzon, it’s a rare delight to see a queen on any franchise play such an error-free game as Hannah.
None of Hannah Conda’s fashions so far this season have been incredible inventive or over-the-top. Instead, they’ve all just been very good and flattering.
I appreciate that.
This buckled dress certainly wasn’t innovative, but Hannah took a high fashion look, translated it perfectly to her body shape, and styled it magnificently. I absolutely love the chains braided into her hair – I am an absolute sucker for that. Also, I couldn’t help but note that this dress was as short and ass-out as Spankie’s typical looks, but Hanna made it seem intentional.
Did any of us expect Hannah to come quite so hard for a Girl Groups verse? I didn’t. While I assumed she would be a capable singer, I didn’t expect her to execute fast-rapping so well.
Little Hands in the room and y’all gonna hear her
I’m the shit, take a whip, ’cause I’m gonna read ya
Mama Ru brought us here, the best from Down Under
But girls look out, you’re gonna feel my thunder
A brush through your wig wouldn’t go astray
A little more make-up you could applicate
Get yourself together, it’s the big leagues now
If you want to sit and cry you can get the fuck out
Much like Hannah’s runway package, this isn’t the most-revolutionary songwriting in Drag Race history but it fits her well. She made all of the rhythms and rhymes work without doing any shoe-horning other than the awkward “applicate,” and the entire thing makes sense both line-by-line and on the whole.
(I can’t understand why anyone would opt for “you could applicate” when “on your face” is right there, but I also find using such an obscure word to complete the rhyming scheme somewhat charming.)
We didn’t find out anything in particular about Hannah other than her rap name being “Little Hands,” nor were her reads of the other queens all that specific, but she recorded a solid verse and performed it flawless.
It’s hard to say who came out on top this episode between Hannah, Spankie, and Kween Kong. I think Hannah takes it for continuing her momentum and having a clean runway. It feels as though Hannah and Spankie are going to continue to jostle for the crown right down to the end of the season with Kween playing the potential spoiler. Hannah has been the most consistent, but perhaps without the thrillingly high highs of Spankie or the magnetic personality of Kween. I don’t expect next week’s branding challenge will cause her much trouble, though I do suspect we’re due for a “Bottom Two for vulnerability” in the next two episodes – most-likely against Molly Poppinz, since that’s good storytelling.
2. Spankie Jackzon 3 wins, 1 lip sync (avg. rank 2.40, was 1, 1, 2, 6, Pre-Season #3)
Let’s be honest: even if this runway look fit perfectly around the waist, this look wasn’t up the Drag Race runway snuff. If you’re going to have your breasts fully out on the runway, you need a major look to justify it. This was just a fetish corset with high boots.
However, if Spankie was almost in trouble for her runway alone, she more than made up for it with her “Bosom Buddies” verse… or, at least, her dancing and her vocals, since the lyrics are barely there.
It’s Spankie mother-tucker in the house tonight
I’m glad I brought a hankie, ’cause I’m gonna win this fight
I don’t know who the tuck you are, or why they hell you’re here
But it doesn’t really matter when you’re filler in here
There’s not much happening in these lyrics. She’s in the house. She brought a hankie… why? Doesn’t waving a hankie usually mean you’re giving up in the fight? If it was a hankie code reference, it got lost. And, for me, rhyming “here” with “here” is unforgivable when it’s such an easy sound to rhyme. It’s not like it was helping Spankie complete a killer final line. The “filler in here” is pretty awkward.
I know it’s tempting to revere any queen who knows how to belt on a Drag Race singing challenge, but these vocals aren’t as impressive as they seem at first listen. Spankie spends most of it rooting every phrase on a treble-clef F# and descending from there, probably because it’s the safest note she can repeatedly belt as a Bari/Tenor. (Which: same.) She squeaked up to an A for “filler,” but we almost lost the enunciation of the word as (I suspect) she reached the edge of her belting range.
My songwriter cattiness aside, Spankie’s performance was the real story here. Yes, we’ve seen her turn it out in a lip sync, but she had a star-making turn in nailing this entire song of choreography so hard. Even with Kween Kong right next to her it was hard to look away from Spankie.
It’s crystal clear at this point that Spankie is Ru’s favorite queen of the season. (“I love crystal.”) I know the temptation is to think that means Ru will hand her the crown despite some truly crunch runways, but… why hand her the crown now if you can invite her to a future All Stars season with elevated looks? I think Spankie is going to have to style the hell out of her next two weeks of runways to make a solid case for winning now rather than being RuPaul’s next pick to crossover between franchises.
3. Kween Kong – 1 win, 1 lip sync (avg. rank 4.80, was 3, 4, 6, 8, Pre-Season #1)
Kween Kong (Cameo | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter) fully deserved a solo win for this episode, but it was still pleasing to see her recognized for her efforts while also being the main character of the edit all episode long.
I loved Kween Kong’s runway! I think this is clearly the Top Tooth of the week. It was similar in concept to Hannah’s, but her buckles read much more clearly and her overall styling was dreamy. Her massive afro-poof of hair segmented by a single pink buckle was genius.
Kween Kong enter
You’a basic bitch, I’m’a say it to your face
We’ve been friends for a minute, so I’ll give it to you straight
You a badass bitch, but you’re a bitch at best
Stop playing around, because your p*ssy smell bleh
Back it up, girl, I know where you’ve been
On the bottom of the barrel with Bigfoot again
Fix it, Jesus, I sing it now
You’re breath also really, really, really, really smell.
Is it poetry? No, but that’s not what the challenge called for. Kween was asked to pen a diss track, and she delivered. The set-up of the reads with “we’ve been friends for a minute,” the “a bitch at best,” calling back to her read of Spankie as “bigfoot,” the comedy of the “Fix it, Jesus!” … Kween Kong did the thing. This is exactly the sort of verse Drag Race is looking for out of a challenge like this one and there’s nothing I could possibly improve about the lyrics.
Kween Kong played a perfect game this episode, and it vaulted her into an obvious third place ahead of Molly Poppinz. Part of me wanted to put her first int he Power Rankings for that. However, I don’t think that means she has more momentum than Hannah or Spankie as we approach the final. This was the moment where Ru really appreciated her power, but Kween will need to follow it up with a powerful episode next week to really feel as though she is on top of the heap.
4. Molly Poppinz – 1 win, 1 lip sync (avg. rank 3.20, was 4, 2, 4, 2, Pre-Season #9)
Molly Poppinz (Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter) delivered a solid verse and seemed to be cruising for safety, but some uncertainty in her performance resulted in a surprise trip to the Bottom Two.
I, like Michelle, have a near-universal hatred for chaps and chaps-like garments. I have never once liked these “disconnected skirt” dresses on Drag Race, and even with Molly delivering one of the cleanest versions of all time it simply doesn’t work for me.
The thing that does work for me is that Molly is playing the “impeccably clean” version of hair metal. There was a point in the later 80s when it had become so mainstreamed as a genre that all of the grunginess had been sucked out of it and the bands really did look like this! That’s a huge part of what the subsequent grunge movement was all about – taking the gloss off of rock music!
From that perspective, I think this runway was really clever and I enjoyed it. I just wish the skirt was doing something different. Maybe if it had hip cutouts like Trinity’s Wheel of Fortune ball gown I would dig it more.
I think Molly was one of the most successful queens when it came to lyrics. She delivered a clear, complete story without any awkward lines.
It’s Molly Poppinz, big tits of the season
Now I’ma gonna tell you girls how I’m really feeling
Got that busted, and crusted, crunchy couture
You know, I love you sis, but you’re giving me an eyesore
There’s nothing I could tune up about this. She’s got the slant rhyme between “season” and “feeling,” the satisfying slow-down of the rhythm on the third line, and the sly reference to Yuri’s eye infection on the final line. It all just works. It just so happens that Beverly delivered her similarly competent verse with a little more verve and force to nudge Molly into the Bottom Two.
I love that my Pre-Season read on Molly was so very wrong. I thought she’d be a meek queen who lacked self-confidence, but she has come for every challenge harder than all the other queens with only a minor stumble in Snatch Game. She also delivered a fierce lip sync this episode!
The challenge for Molly is that Spankie would have to absolutely crater in a challenge and a lip sync for Ru to tell her to sashay away, and her twin Hannah is uncannily consistent. That means for Molly to make the finale she not only has to outlast Beverly another week, but she has to pray for Kween’s rising star to suddenly plummet so she could snag her spot.
The wild thing is, I think Molly absolutely deserves to be in the finale at this point, and I could see her credibly taking the win. It’s just the making it there that is tricky.
5. Beverly Kills (avg. rank 5.00, was 6, 5, 5, 3, Pre-Season #8)
Beverly Kills (Cameo | Instagram | TikTok | Twitter) squeaked her way into safety this week on the power of a riveting Girl Groups performance, but I fear she is entirely too in-her-head to survive another week in the Drag Race pressure cooker.
I think Beverly Kills’ runway look was fantastic, but there’s always a risk when you introduce an extra element into a theme like “Belts, Buckles, & Chains.” She made the denim the focus of this outfit, and even though the result was absolutely killer it made it feel like she was slightly off-theme compared to all of the rest of the queens even if this was one of the strongest looks.
Beverly was really backed into a corner this episode. She was coming off of a pair of lip syncs and she’s a big enough Drag Race fan to know she needed to start her turnaround here to have any hope of still winning the crown. Unfortunately, that lead to her putting up a front of false confidence that encouraged her to come into conflict with Kween Kong, and we quickly learned that you do not want to come for Kween Kong.
I think that got into Beverly’s head going into her recording session with Michelle, but to her credit she managed to turn out a solid verse in the finale edit.
Giddy up, girls, it’s Beverly Kills
Gonna give you whiplash ’cause I love my thrills
Got Poppinz, Guaii, and Kills in the house
If I’m queen kitty then you da mouse
You ain’t making sense, but I’m making dollars
This you can’t swallow
I’m not afraid to say what I think
And you’ll be blocked like hair in the sink
This verse works very well. The only real problem with it is that the “hair in the sink” finale line just isn’t BIG enough to complete the verse. Why would she use that line when “lip sync” is RIGHT THERE BEING THE SAME EXACT RHYME!?
Luckily, the Drag Race judges don’t tend to split hairs on minor lyric choices the way I do. Also lucky was that Beverly absolutely slayed her performance! Even as someone who has been rooting for her for a few weeks now, I can agree with Ru that this might be the first time Beverly has felt completely alive in the competition up to this point. That comes as somewhat of a surprise, since she has already struck me as a “student of Drag Race” who was ready for every challeng they could sling her way. However, there’s really no replacement for the thrill of live performance, especially when it’s the thing that you built your reputation on.
Beverly Kills is now in an interesting position in the competition. On one hand, she would be the easiest queen to knock off next week. On the other hand, Ru seems to finally be interested in what she’s selling.
Seeing Yuri get eliminated without having to lip sync was the best possible outcome for Beverly this week. It would be perfect for Beverly to finally snag a win next week, which could create a terrific late-season “underdog breaks out” story for her. However, the minimum of what she needs is to stay safe while either Kween Kong stumbles OR the show gives us the Hanna-vs-Molly lip sync they’ve been hinting at. If Beverly can manage that, she could still sneak into the finale! But, as our longshot queen, I am duty-bound to put her last in the ranking.
Eliminated: Yuri Guaii (avg. rank 6, was 5, 6, 7, 5, Pre-Season #7)
Yuri Guaii (Facebook | Instagram | Tiktok | Twitter) is a gorgeous queen with a fascinating perspective on drag. She’s got the filth and horror of a Dragula queen, but there’s a certain sweetness to her that makes her feel more at home on Drag Race.
Yuri pushed herself to stand out week after week, but her shyness and uncertainly finally caught up with her in this Girl Groups challenge.
Ew, gross, it’s Yuri Guaii
I might be a mess but I am the best
Covered in blood I’m slaying these queens
Bouncing on your man like a trampoline
Filth, glamour, just plain trash
These mother tuckers need creme for their rash
You’re a winner baby with that pity sash
Your face makes mirrors smash
Honestly, the only things wrong with this verse are the second line and the final line. The second line feels awkward because it sounds like an apology with the inclusion of “might.” There were ways to flip it, like, “I am the best at being a mess” or “I’m a mess and I’m the best at it” or “Nobody’s better at being a mess.” Whereas, the final line is just a bad one – making “smash” a reflexive verb is clumsy, and it’s not a good enough payoff for the verse.
I truly loved Yuri throughout the season, and I was happy to see her find a way to pull out a strong performance week after week despite her second-guessing. I think she was right to take a chance on Drag Race at this point in her career despite having more room to grow, and her performance on the show is surely going to launch her into bigger things both here in New Zealand and around the world.