Eurovision has long been entwined with the LGBTQ+ community and seen a number of drag performers grace the stage – from Slovenia’s Sestre, the first drag act to compete at the contest in 2002, to Conchita Wurst (the drag persona of Thomas Neuwirth), who took home the trophy for Austria in 2014. Ever since the rise of television drag competition show RuPaul’s Drag Race, fans have long hoped to see these two phenomena collide. And finally they will, with the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK set to air a Eurovision-themed episode.
A spin-off of the Emmy award-winning American programme, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK screens on BBC Three and sees a number of drag queens competing to be crowned as the United Kingdom’s next drag superstar. The second season of the show began airing earlier this month.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK pays homage to Eurovision
For Eurovision fans, the key episode to look forward to is episode five, which will air on 11 February on BBC Three. The official preview description of the episode recently became available online and it details exactly what’s in store for this Eurovision meets Drag Race extravaganza:
RuPaul and the queens return from their lockdown hiatus and the search for the UK’s Next Drag Race Superstar resumes. With the queens reunited and added twists, there is much excitement in the air, but the competition picks up quickly as the queens form two groups for a Europop battle – The RuRuvision Song Contest. In a glorious homage to Eurovision, the queens record and perform the same catchy song, but can they swerve the dreaded nul points?! MNEK joins Michelle Visage and Graham Norton on the judging panel as a fifth queen sashays away from the competition.
The RuRuvision Song Contest – A Europop battle
From the description we learn that the show is rebranding Eurovision as “The RuRuvision Song Contest”. The remaining queens will be split into two and compete as rival girl-groups in a Europop battle.
As of the date of writing, two queens have been eliminated from the original line-up of 12. The note that “a fifth queen sashays away from the competition” during episode five means that this rate of one elimination per episode is set to continue (double eliminations and double saves have been known to occur as a part of the US version). Thus, we can expect eight queens to be remaining for episode five and hence the contestants to be split into two groups of four.
The description also details that the two groups will be performing the same song. This is similar to one of the challenges from the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, where two groups were tasked with performing their version of “Break Up (Bye Bye)”, with each queen writing lyrics for their own personal verse. Proving to be popular outside of the show, the song went on to peak at number 35 on the UK singles chart and launched the winning group, the Frock Destroyers, into the limelight.
The Frock Destroyers – consisting of Baga Chipz, Blu Hydrangea, and Divina de Campo – have since spoken of their hope to one day represent the United Kingdom at Eurovision. A petition was initially set up by fans to bring them to the attention of the BBC, the UK’s participating broadcaster at Eurovision, and this has now received over 10,000 signatures. The BBC has not yet made any official announcement about their plans for Eurovision 2021.
The producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will no doubt be hoping that the song performed as part of The RuRuvision Song Contest will go onto similar success after the show.
To date, the BBC has still not revealed their song selection plans for Eurovision 2021. Fans have noted that the winning song of the RuRuvision challenge could — in theory — be internally selected as the UK’s act for Eurovision 2021.
Graham Norton and MNEK on the judging panel
Finally, we learn from the description that the judging panel for this episode will consist of host RuPaul, regular judges Michelle Visage and Graham Norton, as well as MNEK. As the United Kingdom’s Eurovision commentator since 2009, it was a natural choice to have recurring judge Graham Norton as part of this episode’s panel. Known for his sarcastic and sometimes snarky comments about the performances at Eurovision, we can probably expect similar remarks to be made about the queens on Drag Race.
MNEK is a Grammy-nominated British singer and record producer. As a performer he has four top ten UK singles under his belt, and as a songwriter he’s worked with artists such as Zara Larsson, Little Mix, Dua Lipa, Kylie Minogue, Beyoncé, Madonna and TWICE. MNEK was a guest vocal coach on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, where he coached the queens while recording “Break Up (Bye Bye)”. It seems that the British star could not only be back for a similar role as last year, but also as a judge on the main stage following the girl-group performances.
For now, that is all the official information we can gather about this collision of Eurovision and Drag Race. There will be preview clips released in the week leading up to the episode where we may also get a hint as to what the queens will be asked to wear for the runway part of the episode. Fingers crossed we’ll get to see each queen recreating some iconic Eurovision fashion – much like Rita Baga did as a part of Canada’s Drag Race.
Are you excited to see The RuRuvision Song Contest? How do you think the queens of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will go about paying homage to Eurovision? Let us know in the comments below!
Base photo credit: BBC/World of Wonder