Following a recent, relatively minor home break-in, my younger sister handed me a CD and said, “If you want to feel better, listen to this.” I looked down at the silver gift. No, it wasn’t some commiserative rock album, but rather RuPaul’s recent release, Glamazon, which I immediately popped in my car stereo. Carrying a message of freedom along the dance-electronic waves, the retro-flavored disc proved to be the perfect prescription for soul rejuvenation.
Arguably one of the most famous drag queens of all time, RuPaul Andre Charles has left an indelible mark as an actor, singer-songwriter, and television personality. A fixture on the Atlanta and New York club scenes in the ’80s and early ’90s, he released his first album, Supermodel of the World, in 1993. Soon came his own VH1 talk show, followed by more albums, film roles, and television appearances over the next eighteen years. Now with two shows on the Logo network, RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag U, the icon continues to be a major influence on pop culture.
The release of his fifth studio project, Glamazon, coincided with the third-season finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race in April of 2011. The album debuted at number eleven on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic chart and at number eight on the Billboard Top Heatseekers, proving to be his highest sales week since 1997. The 2004 effort, Red Hot, is the only of RuPaul’s albums to hold a higher position on the chart, reaching number four on Billboard’s Dance/Electronic list.
Throughout the almost forty-minute disc, RuPaul uses the pulsating rhythms of Glamazon to advocate a message of true empowerment. This point could easily become blindly optimistic, but RuPaul and producer Lucian Piane keep the album from becoming naively saccharine.
It begins quite fittingly with “The Beginning,” which encourages the listener to see now as the start of new opportunities. Brassy horns give the ode to fabulous and pointy footwear, “Click Clack,” a sassy edge while processed vocals on “I Bring the Beat” promote a robotic futurism. The cleverly named “Responsitrannity” advocates self-discovery and identity, while “Superstar,” the lead single, celebrates being fierce as you are. The multitude of voices heard in “Get Your Rebel On” present an invitation to fight mainstream hypocrisy.
The disc culminates in the softer “If I Dream,” in which light, smooth piano runs complement its lyrical sense of hope and the simple power of believing in your goals.
Reminiscent of everything great about dance and pop music in the ’90s, Glamazon is fun and uplifting across all its ten tracks. Catchy and melodically compelling songs showcase the strong idea of power in a pop package that is appropriate for dancing in clubs or in your car – even in front of the bathroom mirror.
To borrow the RuPaul’s Drag Race catchphrase, this dance-infused carnival of positivity will inspire you to “lip-synch for your life” no matter what mood you are in, whether you’re trying to get over a robbery or just looking to brighten up your day a little.