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Five On It: bing bang bong, cheers to the success of ‘UK Hun?’

This week we're celebrating the viral joy of Drag Race's unforgettable UK Hun?, plus shouting out new releases from Mahalia, Lava La Rue, Paris Texas and more.

19 Feb 2021

Ding dang dong. Did you know that, if you have a sing sang song stuck in your head, the quickest way to make it stop is to imagine the song until the end? Apparently, you achieve “closure”.

This is, as they say, science, yet one that comes with an immediately obvious flaw: what if you don’t know the whole song? Not the bing bang bong beginning, nor the end, but merely the sticky bit in the middle. Alas, your sanity is screwed…

At this present moment, I fear I may never again know real peace thanks to ‘UK Hun?’, the viral song challenge on season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. Performed by both United Kingdolls (A’Whora, Bimini Bon Boulash, Lawrence Chaney and Tayce) and Bananadrama (Joe Black, Ellie Diamond, Tia Koffi and Sister Sister) in competition for the ‘RuRuVision’ crown, this four-line cyclical torment of nursery rhyme proportions is set to chart in the Official UK Top 40 Singles after hitting number 25 in Monday’s mid-week list. Not bad for a comedy track.

But the success of ‘UK Hun?’ is a feat of far greater worth. While Twitter exists as its own macrocosm of quips, sub-tweets and tragedy, the track has superseded its joke value and transcended into mainstream consciousness: yep, it’s even had airplay on BBC Radio 1. Britain has a long history of loving a novelty track so much that it becomes anointed in popular culture – recall the classics like Bob the Builder’s ‘Can We Fix It?’, Las Ketchup’s ‘The Ketchup Song’, the Crazy Frog or 2018’s Christmas number 1, ‘We Built This City on Sausage Rolls’ – but, as much as it hits the same beats, ‘UK Hun?’ also hits different. 

As one of the biggest reality TV show franchises in the world, Drag Race arriving on the BBC was a joyous moment that showed the traditionalistic public service broadcaster was taking notice of its public and giving them what they want (personally, I’m ready and waiting for it to shift up to BBC 2). It is the representation of LGBTQI+ culture on platforms such as the BBC – ever the slowest to change – that sheds reflective insight on national mood as a whole; with that in mind and catchy verse aside, it is heartening that lyrics such as “gender bender, cis-term offender” and “don’t be scared to embrace the femme, whether you’re he, she or them” by non-binary queen Bimini have found a home on the country’s biggest station.

From meme to mainstream, the eager envelopment of ‘UK Hun?’ into British culture is a testament to how LGBTQI+ culture and society are being publicly embraced with generational change. Long may the celebration continue: Shantay is here to stay.

Mahalia – ‘Jealous’ (feat. Rico Nasty)

This is one power collab that was quite unexpected but, as with the best surprises, it is the curveballs that leave the biggest impressions. Known for her silky smooth vocal, Mahalia’s latest is as slick as you come to expect, but the addition of Rico Nasty’s rapid-fire delivery gives the track a spicy twist. 

serpentwithfeet – ‘Same Size Shoe’

The follow-up to recent release ‘Fellowship’, ‘Same Size Shoe’ is as honest and introspective as its sound is mellow. Channeling minimal beats and production which shows off serpentwithfeet’s chilled vocal dexterity, the track sees the songwriter navigating his choice to exclusively date Black men as they are the only ones who can relate to his lived experience.

Lava La Rue – ‘Magpie’

With lush instrumentation and dreamy production, ‘Magpie’ captures the hazy and lazy sound of summer with its laid back vibe; you can practically feel the sticky heat of 30 degree weather (here’s hoping, hey). Taken from Lava La Rue’s new EP Butter-Fly – out today – the track sees her flex her honeyed vocal and rapid flow in all its glory.

Phoenix Laoutaris – ‘Flowers’

The Totnes-born Londoner is only 19 (wut), but ‘Flowers’ is a perfect example of why Phoenix Laoutaris is one to keep an eye on. Moody production and skittish beats make an interesting contrast with her emotive vocal; for a debut single it shows a hell of a lot of confidence.

Paris Texas – ‘HEAVY METAL’

Mysterious duo Paris Texas sure know how to make a striking debut. From its darkly macabre visual to its nihilistic delivery and whip-smart lyrics, the deft hip hop of ‘HEAVY METAL’ is arrestingly moody with its ominous tone and guttural guitar riff. Think Brockhampton meets Death Grips, and you’ll be on the money.

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