By Josh L.
Independently Made – 2013
Sharon Needles, winner of season 4 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, makes her chart debut with PG-13. A fist-pumping album inspired by pop, punk, and horror.
Sharon Needles, born Aaron Coady, is an American drag queen from Iowa. Last year she was catapulted in the public eye, after RuPaul crowned her America’s Next Drag Superstar. Arguably the most popular Drag Race contestant, Sharon charted on the low end of the Billboard 200 with her debut album PG-13, making her one of the few drag queens to do so. She even managed to get into the top 5 Pop Chart on the U.S. iTunes. Music is not her main passion though, in fact she says that one of the reasons she wanted to make this dance album, was so she could lip-sync to her own songs (or sing them live), when she performed in the gay clubs. And trust me; she’ll be performing these songs for a long time to come, because her fans love the album!
The album itself was recorded independently, and funded, presumably, by her winnings from Drag Race. It was recorded over the latter half of 2012, whenever she had time between performances. The album is a pretty standard mix of Sharon’s fascination for horror, death, and her spooky persona, and the usual sort of music you’d hear in the gay clubs. It’s a very electronic album, but it has a few punk rock songs spliced through. In the album, Sharon gets to collaborate with some of her own inspirations, Amanda Lepore, RuPaul & Jayne County, as well as her friend Ana Matronic, and boyfriend Alaska Thunderfuck.
The album starts out with the lead single, “This Club Is a Haunted House”, and this is the song that will get you hooked on the album! The song starts out with a spoken solo from RuPaul. This track optimizes Sharon’s image, style, and what she stands for. It also has a very spectacular, horror movie inspired video to accompany it. The next track “Call Me on the Ouija Board” continues the horror theme, and it continues the great electronic sound that the first track started; although the chorus is as strong or original as the first track. “Dead Girls Never Say No” is a very dark, electronic, tongue and check kind of song. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of this much auto-tune on a song, or album, but there’s definitely a different standard when it comes to music from drag queens, and I really don’t mind it here! “Drink Till I Die” sounds the most generic of all the songs on the album, this one is very auto-tuned, and the one that songs most like any other pop artist around at the moment. I still like, because I love Sharon Needles, but I don’t know if I’d like it so much if it wasn’t from her.
“I Wish I Were Amanda Lepore” is the first song on the album to not feature horror, or death as a theme. The song is inspired by Sharon Needles’ obsession with plastic surgery (although she’s never had any herself), and transsexual singer and performer Amanda Lepore. Another very auto-tuned track, but I like it because of the message, and the fact that it’s Sharon Needles & Amanda Lepore together! “Why Do You Think you’re Nuts” is very different from the rest of the album! This is a cover song, which shows a different side of Sharon.
The next track “Disco Ball” brings us back to the dance songs of the album; will the next two songs after that returns us to the theme of death with “Dressed To Kill” and “Let’s All Die”. The next track on the album is one of my personal favorites; “Kai Kai” is a duet between Sharon and her season 5 Drag Race runner-up boyfriend Alaska Thunderfuck, and also features a fantastic spoken word bridge from the Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic. If you want to know what Kai Kai means, I’ll leave that for you to Google yourself. It’s full of fantastic lyrics, such as my favorite “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, well, let me rephrase that. Ladies and Ladies”. The next track is the first one that was released from the album. A cover of Minstry’s “Every day is Halloween”, the only ballad on the album, and it shows that Sharon can actually sing! It’s gives off a fantastic atmosphere, and is a great penultimate conclusion.
The final song on the album brings us back to the punk side of the album. “Hail Satan” is a duet with Janye County, rock’s first transsexual singer. The song is… well, exactly what it seems it’s about; so, the songs not exactly for everyone. But I love this songs’ sound, and lyrics! The tracks on the album are expertly ordered!
This album is significant because it’s amazing that an independently made album from a drag artist made in onto the Billboard 200. That’s a feet not many people can say they did! This album is very memorable. But, if you hate pop music, you’ll hate this. But if you don’t like drag queens, you’ll probably never hear this album anyway!
I love the album! I usually buy CD albums, because I like to physically have an album. But I bought this one digitally, in its first week of sales, so I could help it’s chart placing. I give the album 4 out of 5 stars.
Josh L. is a grade 12 student who dreams of being an actor one day