RuPaul: The Soundtrack of My Life

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Image Credit: Mathu Andersen/LOGO

The First Lady of “ladies” and fierce hostess of the breakout reality hit RuPaul’s Drag Race — whose fourth season premieres Monday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m. on Logo — shares the songs that shaped him, from Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” to Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”

Song I first dragged to: Donna Summer, “MacArthur Park”
“I was lead singer of a band and lip-syncing to a song was not something that I did, I just wasn’t into it. But I went to this house party in Merrick, New York, and these rich kids asked if I would lip sync a song, so I did it. It was hilarious and it was a smash hit, and I actually used it as part of my repertoire when I did start lip-syncing in the late ’80s in New York.”

Song I’ll never drag to again: Starpoint, “Object of My Desire”
“It’s a great drag song, but its just that there are so many lyrics to it and so many ad libs that she does, it’s almost impossible to get them all and that’s a big consideration with lip-syncing a song. You want to hit every beat, every ad lib, every riff. I tried doing that song once, and I just couldn’t do it.”

Song that reminds me of my first romance: Bell & James, “Livin’ It Up (Friday Night)”
“It was the song that was always on the radio in the disco era, when I was going to this all-ages disco in San Diego. It reminds me of that time and this first real kiss that I had with this man who was much older than me. Actually, when he kissed me, my knees literally buckled. They buckled because I was swept away. Yeah, it was true: He swept me off my feet. When I hear that song today, I immediately think of that kiss.”

Song that makes me turn up the radio: Maxine Nightingale, “Right Back Where We Started From”
“Oh my God, it’s so much fun, it’s so happy with that constant beat! Oooh! I don’t think that’s in my cardio workout. I’m going to make that my cardio song of tomorrow because, yeah, the BPM is really fast. It just makes you feel happy. It makes you feel so friggin’ happy.”

Song that reminds me of the ’80s: Melba Moore, “Underlove”
“Melba was a Tony-winning Broadway baby. ‘Underlove’ was a huge hit in the ’80s and that song, for me, is the sound of the ’80s. I used to be the go-go dancer at this disco in Atlanta, and when I would drive home, we would go to a diner at the end of the night, and I would play that cassette to death. To death! Because it was so good. I just played that cassette to death and that’s what reminds me of the ’80s.”

Song that reminds me of the ’90s: RuPaul, “Supermodel”
“‘You betta work!’ But yeah, for me, that’s what I was doing all of the ’90s. I was around the world performing that song.”

Song most overused by drag queens: Gloria Gaynor, “I Will Survive”
“Obviously, the young queens are tearing up Beyoncé and Britney and all that stuff, but I’m going to go old school and say Gloria Gaynor.”

Song most underused by drag queens: Deborah Cox and Whitney Houston, “Same Script, Different Cast”
“It should’ve been a No. 1! I love the line, ‘Hey Deb, thank you for being woman enough to come.’ It’s so good, and they keep going an octave higher over each other. I don’t know how many octaves, or how many modulations are in that song. That’s drama! That is drama, people!”

Song that makes me cry: Bruce Springsteen, “Dancing in the Dark”
“I have about 3,000 of these, but the first one that comes to mind — and it’s one that no one would actually even think of — is ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ Actually even saying it right now, I can feel my chest tighten up. Don’t make me cry now! Those lyrics — ‘I’m just about starving tonight’ — are so sad. Oh my God, it drives me crazy!”

Song I’d like to be remembered for: “Jealous of My Boogie”
I love its cheekiness. I was at the Glendale roller rink a couple of weeks ago, and the DJ played it, and it just made me so happy. When I was working on the album Champion with [producer] Lucian [Piane], I said, ‘I want every song on this album to mention the word disco or the word boogie.’ It’s one of the best things that I’ve ever done.”

Song I want played at my funeral: English nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”
“‘Row, row, row your boat / Gently down the stream / Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily / Life is but a dream.’ The ‘life is but a dream’ part says it all.”

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Read more:
Kelly Clarkson on the soundtrack of her life: Read her exclusive EW interview here
Parker Posey: What’s On My iPod
Kristin Chenoweth: What’s On My iPod
Hugh Laurie: What’s On My iPod — an EW exclusive
Idris Elba: What’s On My iPod
Lenny Kravitz: What’s On My iPod — an EW Q&A

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