The album cover of Femuline (★★★☆☆) finds Todrick Hall at his most extra, channeling Lil Nas X in a pink sci-fi jumpsuit on a unicorn-headed bike, which turns out to be a pretty accurate reflection of the album. Hall originally became a gay household name with his high-production Disney parodies and his appearances in RuPaul’s Drag Race, but undeservedly gets less attention as a recording artist in his own right. Inspired by and meant to celebrate pride, Femuline delivers on its promise with energy, bombast, and unabashed queerness.
Femuline finds Hall confident and eager to share his swagger. The album comes in swinging on its opening interlude “Foreplay,” and maintains that energy through “Berserk,” a thumping and infectious dance track. “Both” has Hall delivering a firehose of dualities, many of them cliched and some incredibly groan-worthy, but delivered in such volume, with so much swaggering confidence and enough cleverness sprinkled throughout that the song somehow just works. Pop culture references are minimal on this album, although he can’t help himself on “Parade,” when he gives us the line, “Glitter, glitter on the wall, who’s the fiercest one of all?”
Hall’s infectious confidence peaks on “Dick This Big,” with Ts Madison lending her vocals and attitude. Hers is not the only star power Hall leverages, either. “Fabulosity” makes excellent use of Chaka Khan, whose vocals are the real star of that particular track. Together with Brandy, Hall reimagines and repurposes “Miss Mary Mack,” turning the schoolyard rhyme into “Click Clack,” a slick, catchy track that transforms Miss Mary from an enigmatic fashion icon into a diva turning every head in the room, “with sickening buttons all down her back.”
Talented as he undeniably is, however, there is only so much Hall can do with Tyra Banks. As much fun as she clearly has rapping on “Fashón,” the song fails to land or even find its energy. Apart from the camp value and sheer novelty of having a track featuring Banks, her sole purpose on “Fashón” seems to be to offer the line, “Smize, bitch.”
The dance track “Rainin Fellas” boasts a chorus at the upper end of Hall’s vocal range and some fun lyrical imagery, although its effect is dampened by the inevitable comparisons to the Weather Girls’ iconic and far superior track, as well as the far more evocative homoerotic fantasy that follows. “Boys in the Ocean” introduces us to what sounds like a far more interesting paradise, complete with “daddies and their dogs playing frisbee.”
In the album closer, “Rainbow Reign,” Hall delivers something of a Pride month manifesto, asking, “Has anyone told you lately that you’re perfect?” Tying up Femuline with this track makes clear that the album is meant above all else to be an outsized celebration of the entire queer spectrum, in all its color and wonder. Not all of Femuline lands perfectly, but its high points are outstanding, reflecting Todrick Hall at his most confident and charismatic.
Femuline is available for streaming and purchase now. Visit www.todrickhall.com.
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