We all know drag diva RuPaul from back in 1992 when his enviably long legs sashayed up the charts with single Supermodel (You Better Work). Well, 12 years down the line the 6ft 4 stunner looks no different judging by the pouty photos on the album – he has Diana Ross hair and a face that looks disturbingly airbrushed, a bit like a male Cher. Though despite all this age-defying, the RuPaul of 2004 is very much changed as a person and artist.
He may have enjoyed success with his own TV show, a radio show and even a waxwork in Time Square’s Madame Tussauds, but this Queen of the Queens has many bees in his bonnet. RuPaul, now 44, is pulling no punches with latest album Red Hot, which comes after a four year musical break. No longer concerned with just airhead dance tunes, this latest offering is riddled with strong-voiced rants about racial inequality, bigots and tranny haters.
As a result, the album sounds like he’s wholly concentrating on purging his demons. It has a fairly funky dance vibe, but serious lyrics pretty much kill the party atmosphere that the bouncing beats drum up. When you’re shaking your booty on the dance floor you don’t want to be listening to RuPaul’s pontifications.
Even so, there are some sizzling gay anthem tunes on Red Hot such as Coming Out of Hiding, a bold and brassy tune that is pure glitter ball dance, and My Love Sees No Colour is big, shiny and loud. A towering favourite though is his cover of Depeche Mode‘s People Are People. It’s deliriously catchy with an electronica veneer and boingy beats. You can see why RuPaul chose to cover this song as it’s painfully relevant to his own life, as he has undoubtedly had to have dealt with the right-wing conservative climate in America. Charmingly he even sings it with a defiant Brit accent.
But then other songs are boringly formulaic and below par, as well as literally below the belt. There’s no denying that RuPaul is quite the promiscuous diva when he sings in aggressive rap tune Kinky/Freaky :”I’m more than a man, just ask your man, he knew what he was doing when he unzipped his pants”. Equally in the hot-breathed Just A Little In & Out a cocksure RuPaul doesn’t hold back, singing: “I need a love injection, point and shoot in my direction”.
But Workout/Betta Work skit is indeed perfect for cardiovascular aerobic sessions as it’s just a cheesy star-jumping beat with nothing much else there. Love Is Love has some banging rhythms but sits uncomfortable with the serious theme, where RuPaul declares: “I’m a person just like you”.
I Need More is just identikit R&B dance schmooze while The Price Of One is stale drum n bass though admittedly has the killer line: “More woman than you’ll ever need, more man then you’ll ever be”.
So while the album as a whole shimmers with energy and features some sassy platform-boot slamming rhythms, too many tracks don’t sound exciting enough to make the album a must-buy. Miss RuPaul Charles may have a lot to say, but is a party album really the place to say it?