Album Review: Various Artists – Christmas Queens 2
Back in the Christmas season of 2015, we received the first Christmas Queens album. Collecting various girls from RuPaul’s Drag Race and even queens from outside of the series, it was a hilarious take on the traditional Christmas album and a refreshing note for the holiday. Unsurprisingly, 2016 gives us the follow-up collection, Christmas Queens 2, though it’s much less exciting than the first volume despite its increased scope.
Similarly to the first edition, Christmas Queens 2 gives various queens a chance to either write and perform their own Christmas songs or offer a hilarious—and occasionally serious—take on an existing carol. Christmas Queens 2 ups the ante, attempting to add a kind of story to the collection as to why these queens are all in one place. There are some entertaining interludes, with the queens conversing and acting as if they were all at a party that progresses as the album does, but they never add much substance or necessity to the album. Similarly, the songs themselves aren’t as interesting this time. Jiggly Caliente’s Xmas Hams attempts but fails to recapture the hilarity of Ratchet Christmas from the previous album, and moments like the country-dance hybrid of Ginger Minj’s Down Home Country Christmas and Ivy Winters’ interesting but eventually tiring Elfy Winters Night just feel awkward rather than creative.
However, the album isn’t without its high points. Sharon Needles’ Snow Machine feels very much like a song right off of her last album Taxidermy and mixes enough Christmas effects in to help it work, and Phi Phi O’Hara’s Fireside mixes the Christmas spirit with a tropical house beat that works well with her voice even if it rides low on the Christmas scale; neither song aims for hilarity, but they both work. Similarly, Michelle Visage and Thorgy Thor team up on O Holy Night—the former singing, the latter playing the violin—and smash it out of the park with a faithful, powerful version of the track. Of the songs that aim for light-heartedness, Jackie Beat and Katya’s Bossa Nova Christmas in Outer Space is the one that mixes humour and quality the best, melding with the personalities of both queens perfectly and feels different from both the dance tracks and the normal carols on the album. Alaska Thunderfuck’s Chr!$Tm@$ $Ux also deserves an honourable mention, if only for capturing the apathy of modern Christmases perfectly while working in her own funny attitude.
Christmas Queens 2 is an overwrought, overthought package. The interludes up the tracklist to a beefy 30 tracks without adding much quality, and the songs are largely of spotty quality that makes it hard to find something to listen to the entire compilation for. Die hard Drag Race fans will surely enjoy seeing their favourites come back again, but for the most part Christmas Queens 2 is still a follow-up that loses the spark that made the first one so interesting.