What do Crazy Frog and the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK have in common? I’ll tell you! Performing a painfully yet incredibly catchy song which relies on the word ‘bing’ and gets more fame than future historians could ever reasonably believe.
‘Bing, bang, bong. Sing, sang, song. Ding, dang, dong. UK, hun?’ is quickly becoming the anthem of 2021 so far. This chorus of the song ‘UK Hun?’, performed by the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 2, has been described by some as an insufferable earworm, and others as a catchy bop. No matter what camp you lie in, it is undeniable that the song itself has reached viral status, forming hundreds of memes, reaching Top 10 in the iTunes UK Music Chart, taking the world by storm and warming our cold, lockdown hearts through to the core. What started as an obscure Eurovision-esque challenge for drag queens on a reality TV series has become a sort of beacon of hope, guiding us through Lockdown take 3.
The wacky tune which embodies the joyful spirit of camp, and the oddity of British comedy, serves as an example of the power of simplicity. Its repetitive lyrics have been floating round most of our heads, lifting our spirits, telling us, for some unbeknownst reason, to ‘Bing, bang, bong’. I’ve seen people on Twitter suggesting the song has done more for British people than the government has and I’m not sure I entirely disagree. We should be proud of our ability to allow songs like ‘Crazy Frog’ and ‘UK Hun?’ to almost top the charts and be proud of the community spirit they evoke between us. However, now it appears to be drag queens that are taking the so-ridiculous-its-incredible crown in the music industry.
It’s no secret that drag is inextricably intertwined with song. Most of us by now will be aware of the ‘lip-sync’, a form of performance brought into the limelight by drag queens which now forms a part of mainstream pop culture. The lip-sync, which once was mainly a tool for celebrity impersonators and club-performing queens to add some movement and artistry to their act, is now a cultural phenomenon, with a segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon which morphed into its own reality TV show Lip Sync Battle. Lip-sync performing is fun, easy to start, but incredibly hard to perfect. Watching a skilled, experienced drag queen lip-sync can be a very magical experience, a moment of joyfully suspended disbelief which ties into the crux of drag as an artform of impersonation.
However, drag queens have begun to branch out from the lip sync into original music. In my opinion, the recent pioneer of this trend is RuPaul herself, whose stardom, music career and reality TV show success has led to a stream of drag queen pop artists. Trixie Mattel in particular has reached high in the charts multiple times with her albums, other honourable mentions going to Adore Delano, Alaska Thunderf*ck and Jinx Monsoon for their musical talents. Despite all these breakout artists, the most popular songs tend to be produced by the RuPaul’s Drag Race team, with songs like ‘Read U Wrote U’ by the cast of All Stars 2 becoming gay club staples. Following this trend, ‘UK Hun?’ is apparently already playing in clubs in Australia.
But Drag Race songs are more than just club anthems, they can provide a safety signal to the LGBTQ+ community. They show a layer of recognition, whether in public places or on the internet. A Twitter account posting ‘bing, bang, bong’ memes is not just engaging with comedy, but often an inherent acceptance of genderplay and normalisation of a part of LGBTQ+ culture. Every song produced by a Drag Race contestant could provide a spot of comfort for a listener in the void of Spotify. Drag queens, especially ones with the platform Drag Race gives them, can create original music that is identity-validating, community-uniting, accepted as mainstream, intelligent, and entertaining. In lockdown, this is especially valuable.
‘UK Hun?’ is no exception. Its funny innuendo ‘ding, dang, dong’ paired with its Eurovision campness makes it a joyful breath of fresh air – much needed on an episode of Drag Race UK when the queens have returned from 7 months in lockdown. Bimini’s verse in particular deserves an honourable mention for its intelligence and comedic excellence. It is my personal opinion that the rhyming couplet ‘Gender-bender, cis-tem offender,/ I like it rough but my lentils tender’ may be the best ever written in the English language, referring to their non-binary and vegan identity. Their final line ‘Love yourself, say that again’ is exactly what we all need to hear after such a difficult year. Promotion of self-love for all and checking in on your friends (UK Hun?) truly transforms this camp bop into a feel-good anthem.
Even though we are all aware of the worldwide difficulties the pandemic has posed, drag queens are one of the uniquely affected groups who deserve our support. Whether it is buying their albums, contributing to Patreons, or booking them for online zoom performances, we should all endeavour to help skilled performers who have the power to help us in times when they are robbed of their stage. Without drag, the art and culture scene loses so much vitality and joy, and without an audience, drag performance could be lost as queens are forced to fall victim to career switch. Take advice from Bimini, ‘Sing it loud’ that drag queens are an essential entertainment, and at the end of the day, don’t forget to ‘Clap for the bing, bang, bong’.
Image credit: CarrieLu via Flickr