With its snappy chorus and sugary sweet aesthetic, brand-new song ‘UK Hun’ has been unbelievably popular since its release a few weeks ago. If you’re anything like me, then you know the pain of having this deliciously camp, catchy and captivating tune on repeat in your head since it’s airing in episode 5 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK. Extravagant and hilarious, season 2 of Drag Race UK has been a much-needed distraction for many of us as we hit yet another lockdown slump in the midst of the coronavirus crisis this year. But what has got us all talking this season is the RuRuvision song contest, which produced the much loved ‘UK Hun’ as this season’s queens fought to win with their own renditions of the song. The United Kingdolls, made up of drag queens Tayce, Bimini Bon-Boulash, Lawrence Chaney and A’Whora, ultimately won with their snappy verses and flawless choreography, and the song currently rests at number 27 in the official UK top 40. Last season saw The Frock Destroyers reach number 35 with their hit Break Up Bye Bye, but it is hard to contest the fact that ‘UK Hun’ has overseen an unprecedented level of publicity for Drag Race UK. The song has been the inspiration for memes, TikToks, and people have jokingly claimed it should be in the running for our next Eurovision song. While the song is, on the surface, a light-hearted piece of fun, I can’t help but wonder how the immense mainstream popularity of this song will contribute to our notions of gender, sexuality and of course, drag. With lyrics of empowerment and rallying against the status quo, this song is seemingly the perfect way to wrap up more complex messages within a catchy tune and, of course, with a touch of humour and sparkle.
Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK has, I believe, been invaluable in opening a discussion around the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, as well as in providing a platform for some of our fantastic UK drag artists. While many of us watch the show for its hilarity, fashion and escape from the mundane grey of everyday life, each episode provides a few moments in which we get to see the queens vulnerable, discussing difficult experiences in their lives. Whether this is around gender identity, hate and abuse, or family estrangement, we as the audience get to come closer to these struggles and the personal effects they have on individuals. It is a show where everyone is able to be unashamedly, unabashedly themselves. So, when ‘UK Hun’ soared in popularity, I was elated to think that more people would be drawn to educate themselves on these messages within a format that was non-judgemental and accessible. The song is of course hilarious – I don’t imagine any of us expected to have the infamous ‘Bing Bang Bong’ on a loop in our brains over lockdown. But each queen brings their own life and personality to the song, and lyrics like Bimini’s ‘Gender bender, cis-tem offender’ have become a staple on prints, mugs and other merchandise. The integration of this idea of moving away from the old-fashioned gender binary is inarguably positive; the song is helping to contribute to the normalisation of identity in all forms. Don’t let the easy-going, bubbly energy of this song fool you – ‘UK Hun’ is encouraging a conversation around self-love, gender and sexuality that needs to be had now more than ever. I strongly believe that to integrate modern, tolerant values in a society so often hostile to those we see as different, we must increase diverse representation in our media. This season of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK has done just that, with the popularity of this song showing us to be moving in exactly the right direction. ‘UK Hun’, though frivolous and playful, is contributing to a wider queer cultural revolution, and gives me much hope for the increasingly open-minded values of our generation.
Illustration by Harry Basson