If you’re a fan of drag, you’ve probably heard of Alaska Thunderfuck by now. From the second she appeared at the beginning of Ru Paul’s Drag Race fifth season with her horse mask and a nasal “Hieeee!”, she left a real impression. Two years later, her career has skyrocketed; we’ve been witness to her evolution from an insecure queen in the shadow of her boyfriend to one of the strongest personalities in the industry. She’s popularised more catchphrases than anyone, she’s touring the world, and now she’s releasing an album. It can be a daunting task for a drag queen to work her entire character into an album full of songs without going too far, or sometimes not going far enough. Thankfully, it’s a task that Alaska takes to with real skill on Anus.
True to form, the album opens with a massive and memorable introduction with Hieeee. Despite the simple house beat that forms the backbone of the track, Alaska kicks it up with a three minute reciting of popular cliché phrases from drag shows, ranging from vain to downright vicious—We’ll be happy to take your complaints after the show / At the corner of fuck you and go fuck yourself avenue dot com! / I’ll see you there / Bring a sweater—culminating in a fifteen second speed reciting of her finest quotes before ending it with the phrase we’ve been expecting since the beginning—“Hieeee!”.
The album throws a few curveballs though, with Pussy being a notable example: By taking a doo-wop style and creating a bubbly, positive pop song about love despite gender, it both shows a positive LGBT message while mixing Alaska’s carefree sexuality in at the same time. Anus is a plain example of this sexuality at an extreme level, featuring the most explicit lyrics on the album. The biggest surprise comes with the piano introduction for Nails, featuring Alaska singing over a lone piano in a stand-out cabaret ballad moment that leaves us longing for more after the minute it lasts is over. The Shade of It All takes a similar route with more of a pop ballad vibe, featuring the masterful backing vocals of her American Apparel Ad Girls cohorts Willam and Courtney Act.
But it’s the singles that capture her signature attitude best. Your Makeup Is Terrible, the precursor to and lead single to the entire album, features elements similar to Hieeee and turns them into a highly quotable, infectious anthem driven by its thumping beats and Alaska’s stream of consciousness-style lyrics. This Is My Hair has the simplest beat and lyrics on the album, but Alaska’s heavily accented vocals and choice of lyrics—I take my vitamins / I am naturally a platinum blonde / I just let my hair air dry / Pay no attention to the lace on my forehead—speaks volumes about her respect and reverence for proper attire when it comes to drag queens; a sentiment later echoed on Nails.
And if it sounds like Alaska’s attitude is being mentioned a lot, it’s merely to stress its importance in the grand scheme of Anus: what could easily be taken as a simple pop album has been elevated to something with a real personality and lasting power thanks to Alaska’s character. As the first full taste of Alaska Thunderfuck’s music career, Anus is definitely a satisfying and worthy introduction; the only issue now is waiting for the eventual follow-up.