For the debut season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs. The World,” RuPaul Charles brought together nine all-stars from the series’ many franchises to compete against each other in the ultimate contest to find the “queen of the mother-tucking world.” Hosted in the United Kingdom, the new series sets three queens from the UK franchise as hosts to six other competitors. In episode 1 and episode 2, Canada’s Lemon and UK’s Cheryl Hole became the first international all stars to “sashay away,” while Jimbo plummeted from two top placements to the bottom as the third queen eliminated. After sending Jimbo home in a shocking decision, Pangina Heals was sent home fourth by another queen despite being a frontrunner in challenge wins.
Below check out our recap of episode 5 to see the final five put their spin on Ru’s song “Living My Life in London” with a verse about their own hometown. “RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Versus The World” airs every Tuesday at 4pm ET / 1pm PT in the US and in select territories exclusively on WOW Presents Plus, day-and-date with its local airing on BBC3 in the UK.
Following Pangina’s tearful exit, all of the remaining queens felt the disappointment on behalf of Pangina, knowing how much she wanted to prove for her country. Blu Hydrangea vocalized her own worry about how it might be received for her to have sent such a beloved queen home, but Mo Heart supported the decision because it is a game after all. Blu defended her decision as being the same one that Pangina made in eliminating Jimbo, which is to get rid of her toughest competition when she had the chance. Baga Chipz was previously vocal about wanting to get revenge on Pangina on behalf of Jimbo, so it was no surprise that had she won she would have sent Pangina home as well.
The next morning, after Blu admitted that she “kind of enjoyed” sending Pangina home, the semi-finalists were greeted by Ru for their next maxi challenge: adding their own solo verse to Ru’s song “Living My Life in London.” Over the course of the challenge they’d write and record their verse, and then perform choreography that they create themselves. To prepare for the song, the girls decided to set their verses in the order their names come in the alphabet, placing Baga first and Mo last. The verses themselves would be about 15 seconds long and each queen would tell a quick story about their own hometown.
During the writing process, Mo and Blu gave Jujubee a hard time about her first draft. Mo thought her verse was too vague for casual audiences that will be unfamiliar with Boston and Blu said it was too similar to what she did in her talent show on episode one. Juju didn’t mince words in her reply, saying that she’s going to do something she likes instead of worrying about what the other girls think or what the judges will say about it.
For the recording session, Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix was on hand to help the girls with vocals and Ian Masterson was around as producer. Jade thought Baga’s lyrics were “bang on Baga Chipz,” had to work really hard with Janey Jacké on her pitch and even asked her why she chose to sing her verse if she knew she couldn’t sing, and was impressed by the way Juju could stretch her vocals beyond what she thought she could.
Mo and Janey took the lead in the choreo development with the girls, figuring themselves more capable than the other three. Baga was the fish most out of water in this session, but the attempts by Juju to adapt some of the moves to make everyone look good were mostly shut down by Mo. Because it’s their semi-final performance, all the girls wanted to push themselves, but were also concerned with making sure that they showcase their own strengths.
While getting ready for their performance and runway, Juju asked Baga about some of her lyrics that hinted at an over-consumption of alcohol. Baga opened up about how Drag Race saved her from alcoholism in the sense that it helped her realize how much she was drinking while working in bars and clubs. It was a topic that Juju related to since she’s 10+ years sober at this point, though Baga is only drinking in moderation at this point. They discussed how their line of work opens the door to alcoholism and addiction, and how the clarity of mind that comes with their levels of sobriety has helped improve their lives and careers.
The subject of their verses also inspired the girls to open up about their experiences in conservative upbringings. Both Blu and Janey grew up in religious parts of their countries, but Mo, who also grew up surrounded by religion, was on the path to ministry before being put through conversion therapy. Mo explained that the experience proved that it’s “shame-based” and that there are no cultural or familial explanations for why people are queer. Instead, it reinforced for her that there is nothing wrong with anyone and everyone should be allowed to be who they are.
For the performance and runway, Ru was joined on the main stage by Michelle Visage, Graham Norton and Jade as this week’s special guest. In the song, the queens highlighted their hometowns of Soho, Belfast, Amsterdam, Boston and Hollywood in the high energy remix of Ru’s song. None of the queens stumbled in their performance, though none were huge standouts either. On the runway, they walked in the “Work of Art” category. Baga opened in a take on Van Gogh as a still life pot of sunflowers, followed by Blu in a colorful rendition of Picasso’s well known style, Janey as an interpretation of Warhol’s pop art Marilyn, Juju in an Art Deco gown, and Mo in a lavender Dalí-inspired look featuring a retractable floral mask.
In critiques, Michelle thought it was obvious that Baga was the least dance-capable performer, but it was nice that she put her own spin on it to make it interesting. Graham and Jade loved her runway because it was also very clearly within her Baga brand. Michelle gave Blu props not only for referencing her elimination of Pangina, but also for actually doing it. Graham and Jade scaled back on Blu’s runway because they weren’t immediately clear on what she was going for. Michelle and Graham were underwhelmed by Janey’s performance in the challenge because she got lost, but Jade was surprised that her vocal wasn’t as bad as she expected after the recording session. Ru thought that Janey performed in a way that she was trying to “keep it in order” and that resulted in her not performing at her own best. Graham told Juju that she was finally “fully present” in the competition and Michelle thought she was finally showing at the level that she expects her to. Michelle said Mo “left it all on the stage” and the judges all agreed that the performance was “the Mo show.”
Based on their evaluation, the judges decided that Juju and Mo were the top two of the week, leaving Blu, Baga and Janey vulnerable to elimination as the bottom three. Backstage, Mo was emotional over receiving such a positive critique from Michelle, who she called one of the toughest judges around next to Simon Cowell. Facing a decision to eliminate, Mo and Juju went back and forth over what sort of direction to go. Blu was banking on a deal she had made with Mo to not eliminate one another, but Baga pitched that she wants to be around because she loves Mo’s company so much and Janey challenged Mo to make the choice to go against the best in the end which would mean keeping her around. Blu pitched to Juju that she made a bold decision and that she doesn’t think she deserves to go home, but Baga got emotional and said that she’d never make the choice to send Juju home. Juju was also torn about the option of eliminating a good friend in Janey who saved her once, but also pulled her lipstick once.
Mo and Juju returned to the stage, decked out in space-punk attire for their lipsync to “Toy” by Netta. Both queens kept to their half of the stage and even used a similar chicken dance for the song’s pre-chorus, but Mo elevated with hard-hitting choreo steps while Juju fell back on comedic interpretations of the lyrics. Ultimately, Juju’s take on the song was Ru’s preference and so she was declared this week’s winner. Juju’s win meant she had the sole responsibility of deciding which two of the bottom three would make the finale and which one wouldn’t. She said she admires her very much, but that it’s Janey that she’s eliminating.
NEXT WEEK: The final four show up and show out in a “lipsync smackdown for the crown” during the grand finale and the eliminated queens make their return.
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