After a long and tumultuous season filled with tears and triumphs, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 12 finally came to a close for a first-time-in-Drag-Race-herstory grand finale episode.
Not only was the top four being narrowed down to a top three before the final, but because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the entire cast wasn't able to enjoy what the end of every season brings the queens: an in-person reunion and larger-than-life finale in front of a live audience, and the guarantee of endless touring as a newly minted member of the Drag Race family.
Crystal Methyd, Gigi Goode, and Jaida Essence Hall came together (virtually) for a series of head-to-head lip sync battles for the crown, the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, and a cash prize of $100,000.
In the first round, the top three queens had to serve face—literally—in a close-up webcam performance of RuPaul’s new song “Bring Back My Girls.” They each then presented individual pre-recorded performances: Crystal Methyd delivered a hilarious take on Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird,” Gigi Goode reinvented a-ha’s “Take On Me” video, and Jaida Essence Hall channelled Ciara in a fabulous living room rendition of “Get Up.”
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When it came time for the final lip sync, RuPaul couldn’t narrow down the top three to a final two, and needed to see more from the queens in order to make a final decision.
After a close lip sync to Destiny’s Child’s 2001 hit “Survivor,” Milwaukee beauty Jaida Essence Hall was crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar.
In honor of our newly crowned queen Jaida Essence Hall, read up on a few things you might not have known about “Survivor” below:
The song is inspired by the reality TV show of the same name
Following the departure of LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson from the group, a radio station joked that Destiny’s Child was becoming like the latest reality TV sensation: CBS’s cutthroat competition series Survivor. They likened the exits of Luckett and Roberson -- along with outgoing member Farrah Franklin shortly after that -- to being “voted off the island.”
As a result, Beyoncé used the criticism as fuel for her songwriting, revealing in her 2009 I Am… Yours concert film that she wanted to “write [them] out of all that negativity.”
The Survivor theme continued with the video -- and fans got an inside look on MTV
The “Survivor” music video opens with Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and newest Destiny’s Child inductee Michelle Williams washing up on a beach “somewhere in the South Pacific.” In a 2001 episode of MTV’s “Making the Video,” fans got to go behind the scenes of the “Survivor” video and how it came to be—how it was actually filmed at Point Dume State Beach in Malibu, California, and how the group drew inspiration from the Survivor series’ deserted-island premise.
It soon sparked a lawsuit with the former group members
Naturally, Luckett and Roberson weren’t pleased with the song, which they believed violated an agreement that prevented them from making “any public comment of a disparaging nature concerning one another.” With lyrics like, “You thought I wouldn't sell without you / Sold 9 million," “Survivor” became the subject of a lawsuit in early 2002 between Beyoncé, Rowland, and former manager Mathew Knowles and the former group members; the suit was settled later that summer.
It was one of their most successful singles of all time -- but still barely missed out on the top spot on the Hot 100.
“Survivor”’s chart success was immediate, debuting at number 43 on the Hot 100 in February of 2001 and quickly climbing to the No. 2 spot. However, unlike previous singles like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Say My Name,” and “Independent Women Part 1,” “Survivor” wasn’t able to reach the top of the chart: Janet Jackson’s smash hit “All For You” dominated the Hot 100 for five weeks in the spring of 2001, leaving “Survivor” in the chart’s second spot for seven weeks.
Its use as a Drag Race finale lip sync marks the second year in a row the top queens have lip synced to a Destiny’s Child hit
As “Survivor” sat on the upper echelon of the Billboard Hot 100, the group’s follow-up single “Bootylicious” made its debut at number 66 in June of 2001; it eventually became Destiny’s Child’s fourth No. 1 hit, and remains the last song by a girl group to top the Hot 100 chart to date. “Bootylicious” became the first Destiny’s Child song to be used in a Drag Race lip sync at the Season 11 showdown between Silky Nutmeg Ganache and Brooke Lynn Hytes.
Needless to say, ending an eventful season in the midst of a global pandemic with an unprecedented split-screen cross-country lip sync battle—and Jaida Essence Hall’s embodying of the song that led her to victory—speaks to the triumph after struggle that Beyoncé and the group members describe in “Making the Video,” and reminds us of the fulfillment that comes out of life’s hardest tests.