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Music / Flaming Lips

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We will always love you.note 
The Flaming Lips are an Alternative Rock band from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They formed in 1983 and have become one of the most well known cult bands of the past 30 years. They began as a punk band but became more and more eclectic and psychedelic with the passing years. They also moved from indie labels to Warner (Bros.) Records early in The '90s, where they've remained since.note 

The band personnel has changed several times over the years, but since 1993 it's more or less been the line-up of singer/guitarist Wayne Coyne, bassist Michael Ivins - the two of whom founded the band - and long-time drummer/guitarist/keyboardist Steven Drozd.note  Other members include guitarists/keyboardists Derek Brown and Jake Ingalls, who joined in 2009 and 2013 respectively (Ingalls is additionally the frontman for the band Spaceface), and drummers/percussionists/keyboardists Matt Kirksey and Nicholas Ley, who both joined in 2014 and also perform as the DJ duo the Brothers Griiin. note  In 2021, Ivins retired after serving 38 years with the band. Currently, the band consists of Coyne, Drozd, Brown, Kirksey and Ley.

Amongst their most acclaimed work - both critically and commercially - is 1999's The Soft Bulletin, which critics compared to Pet Sounds for its multi-layered, 'Wall of Sound' style production and poignant subject matter, as well as its 2002 follow-up Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which includes "Do You Realize??", which was once the official State Rock Song of their home state of Oklahoma.

Main studio album discography:

  • Hear It Is (1986)
  • Oh My Gawd!!!...The Flaming Lips (1987)
  • Telepathic Surgery (1989)
  • In a Priest Driven Ambulance (1990)
  • Hit to Death in the Future Head (1992)
  • Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (1993)
  • Clouds Taste Metallic (1995)
  • Zaireeka (1997)
  • The Soft Bulletin (1999)
  • Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
  • At War with the Mystics (2006)
  • Embryonic (2009)
  • The Terror (2013)
  • Oczy Mlody (2017)
  • King's Mouthnote  (2019)
  • American Head (2020)

The Flaming Lips provide examples of:

  • Action Girl: Yoshimi in "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots".
  • Alternate Album Cover: The band's album covers under Warner (Bros.) Records made prominent use of the label's shield logo as a design element. When Warner lost the rights to the logo in 2019 (thanks to the label no longer being affiliated with Warner Bros. — they were bought out in 2004, but had a 15 year grace period where they could still use the shield), the band started reissuing their albums with a new emblem on the covers, depicting a skull and spine inside a downwards-facing triangle.
  • And Starring: Their full length cover of The Dark Side of the Moon, which is jointly credited to The Flaming Lips and Stardeath and White Dwarfs (a band founded by one of Wayne Coyne's nephews), along with Henry Rollins and Peaches.
  • Arc Words: Several of their songs are about/make reference to the Sun, most notably "The Sun" (duh) as well as the titles of the first three tracks on Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell: "Assassination of the Sun", "I'm a Fly in a Sunbeam" and "Sunship Balloons".
  • Ascended Extra: Kliph Scurlock was originally hired as a roadie during The Soft Bulletin tour, and later became the band's touring drummer to promote Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, due to Steve Drozd branching out to keyboards and other assorted instruments, but was eventually brought in as the band's full-time drummer.
    • Similarly, touring backing vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Derek Brown also recently became a full-time member.
  • Broken Record: The hidden track on the album Hit to Death in the Future Head, which is simply the outro to the song "The Magician vs. The Headache" repeated for close to a half-hour.
  • Brown Note: Zaireeka has a warning label on the front stating that "on rare occasion" the various frequencies used on the album have caused listeners to become disoriented.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song".
  • Careful with That Axe: In the middle of "Riding to Work in the Year 2025" and in the middle of the second hour of "I Found a Star on the Ground". Also, the entirety of "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Pt 2."
  • Censored for Comedy
  • Cessation of Existence: Wayne Coyne's belief in this fuels some of their songs like "Do You Realize??", "Vein Of Stars", "All We Have Is Now" and "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate."
    If there ain't no heaven, maybe there ain't no hell.
  • Christmas Special: Christmas On Mars, Sort of. It's more of an experimental Christmas movie.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Wayne Coyne in frickin' spades.
  • Concept Album: Embryonic, The Soft Bulletin, and King's Mouth, focusing on the meaning of morality and literal search of meaning, The Soft Bulletin in the words of Wayne Coyne "is about despair", and Kings Mouth being an actual Rock Opera, respectively. Yoshimi isn't officially considered since only the first four tracks have any actual connection to them, but the album is united by the themes of fighting for what you believe in, The Power of Love, and again our impending deaths.
  • Cover Album: The band decided to do a whole-album cover of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, which turned out exactly as bizarre as you'd expect
  • Cover Version: Apart from the Dark Side of the Moon album, these are quite rare on their albums. The reissue of Hear It Is has a cover of "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran, In a Priest Driven Ambulance has a cover of "What a Wonderful World", Transmissions from the Satellite Heart has a cover of Ed Cromarty and George Rush's "Plastic Jesus"note , At War With the Mystics' iTunes release has a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" (originally recorded for a tribute album) among the bonus tracks, Heady Fwends has a cover of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" (in collaboration with Erykah Badu)... and oh yeah, the A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording...By Amateurs compilation also brings up covers of "Strychnine" by The Sonics (mashed with Elvis Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding") note , "Death Valley '69", "Thank You" and "After the Gold Rush".
  • Crossover: They once did a crossover performance with Beck. They also toured with Beck on his Sea Change tour in 2002.
  • Darker and Edgier: Arguably Embryonic; while many of the band's songs have touched on dark subjects before, Embryonic as a whole is almost unrelentingly dark.
    • The follow-up The Terror, takes the darkness of Embryonic way up to eleven, with virtually no uplifting moments and a consistently bleak, discordant atmosphere that borders on the absolutely nightmarish in parts.
  • Deranged Animation: The music video to "Supermoon Made Me Want to Pee".
  • Determinator: Wayne Coyne has never given up on the band, and his work ethic is reportedly rather impressive.
  • Deus ex Machina: Defied in "Waitin' For A Superman"
  • Distinct Double Album: Embryonic, which was deliberately crafted to be a double album from the start. (Although standard edition versions of the CD still have it at one disc, mainly to cut on manufacturing costs)
    • Inverted with Zaireeka: while it's split across four CDs, all four CDs are actually meant to be played simultaneously.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: In the music video for ''The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song," a cop gets donuts duct-taped all over him.
  • Drugs Are Bad: According to the Fearless Freaks documentary, former guitarist Ronald Jones left the band due to paranoia about Steven Drozd's drug addiction.
  • Epic Rocking: "7 Skies H3", which is 24 hours long. This following on from "Found a Star on the Ground", at six hours. There's also a noise loop on Hit To Death In The Future Head that's almost half an hour long.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Chrome Plated Suicide" starts to fade out during the outro but fades back in before the fade-out is finished.
    • "Scratching The Door" takes the trope to its most logical extreme, fading out and back in four times over the last two minutes.
  • Fan Disservice: The music video for "Watching the Planets", which has a bunch of naked people in the woods discovering a giant hamster ball with Wayne inside it. They manage to break the ball and strip Wayne of his clothing and then crowdsurf him through the woods. And yes, there are no censors.
  • From a Certain Point of View: "...the sun doesn't go down, it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning 'round."
  • Fun with Acronyms: "The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)".
    • Lovely Sorts of Death Records, a vanity label the band founded to release side projects, collaborations, and their more experimental works.
  • Future Me Scares Me: "All We Have is Now" is about a man meeting a future version of himself, who has some not-so-great news: "You and me were never meant to be part of the future."
  • Garfunkel / Nobody Loves the Bassist: Despite being the least visible member of the band, and not being able to play during the band's inception, Michael Ivins manages to somewhat avert this. He's since evolved in a competent instrumentist admired for his cool bass tones, mostly achieved through a vast array of pedals, and has a career as a sound engineer, both with the Lips and other bands.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Oczy Mlody is titled in gratuitous Polish, as are several songs on the album, and additional Polish is used in some of the lyrics. Wayne Coyne had visited a used book shop and found a copy of Erskine Caldwell's novel Close to Home as translated into Polish, and the band started incorporating phrases gleaned from the book into their songs, chosen more for their sound than their meaning. "Oczy mlody" itself means "eyes (of the) young".
    • Similarly, the end credits to Christmas On Mars include Gratuitous Russian phrases that appear to be translations of the English credits but are actually nonsense - for instance "Hair & Makeup" gets translated as "the sparkle on the mountain peak".
  • Gratuitous Panning: taken up to eleven with Zaireeka - the instruments are spread out across 4 separate discs, which are meant to be played simultaneously on 4 different stereos spread out around one room.
  • Greatest Hits Album: There are two.
    • A Collection of Songs Representing an Enthusiasm for Recording...By Amateurs covers songs from the band's first four albums.
    • A Greatest Hits featuring all of their actual hits that they did with Warner Bros Records was released in 2018.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Their recent albums have included a few, including:
    • Boredoms drummer and OOIOO founder Yoshimi P-We providing guest vocals (read: screams) for "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 2" from the album of the same name.
    • MGMT providing additional instrumentation on Embryonic's "Worm Mountain".
    • Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs providing vocals for Embryonic tracks "I Can Be a Frog" and "Watching the Planets".
    • And in a rather bizarre note, German mathematician Dr. Thorsten Wörmann provides spoken word bits to "Gemini Syringes".
    • Heady Fwends is an entire album of this trope.
  • Heroic BSoD: "7 Skies H3" is basically a sonic odyssey of this - a chronicle of one day of a man trying to get through the pains of his girlfriend's suicide. The man, in the end, starts to accept that he could not escape from his despair.
  • Hidden Track: Only one has appeared on the band's albums so far, but given that it's an untitled track consisting solely of the outro to one of their other songs looped for nearly a half-hour, it's hard to say whether it actually counts or not.
  • I Am the Band: In 2021, Wayne became this after Michael Ivins, the only other original member, retired, though Steven Drozd plays a huge part in songwriting and production of their music.
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • Hit to Death in the Future Head closes with the Hidden Track "Noise Loop" (29:16).
    • Transmissions from the Satellite Heart closes with "Slow*Nerve*Action" (5:55).
    • Clouds Taste Metallic closes with "Bad Days (Aurally Excited Version)" (4:38).
  • Moral Guardians: When "Do You Realize??" was chosen as the official Oklahoma state rock song, the decision was unaminously approved in the Senate but fell three votes short in the House of Representatives, where one representative criticised the band's use of "offensive language" and another claimed to be offended by how Ivins had worn a T-shirt depicting the hammer and sickle at the official announcement ceremony.note  Considering that the Lips have put out songs like "Jesus Shootin' Heroin" and EPs like Yeah, I Know It's a Drag... But Wastin' Pigs Is Still Radical, it's interesting how this was the only time they ever came to Moral Guardians' attention.
  • Morality Ballad: "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)".
  • New Sound Album: Has happened a few times in the band's catalogue, largely spurred on by personnel changes.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Christmas On Mars. The bulk of the main cast were the members of the band themselves, rounded out by a few experienced actors and some unknowns who had some connection to the band.
  • The Not-Remix: The Soft Bulletin includes remixes of "Race for the Prize" and "Waitin' for a Superman" by Peter Mokran alongside the versions that were mixed by Dave Fridmann like the rest of the album. There are subtle differences between the mixes - one of the most notable is that the Fridmann mix of "Race For The Prize" includes two drum tracks, an arrangement that was a holdover from when the song was in the running to appear on Zaireeka.
    • Speaking of Zaireeka, they also released stereo mixes of two Zaireeka tracks, "Riding to Work in the Year 2025 (Your Invisible Now)" and "Thirty-Five Thousand Feet of Despair" .
  • The Invisible Band: In the video for "Do You Realize??"
  • Odd Friendship: Collborated with Kesha and Miley Cyrus at different times.
  • One-Word Title: Zaireeka and Embryonic
  • Power Trio: The band has been this at two separate points during their career, the first during the 80s (with Wayne Coyne on guitar, Michael Ivins on bass, and Richard English on drums and piano), and the second during the late 90s/early 00s (with Wayne Coyne on guitar, Michael Ivins on bass, and Steve Drozd on drums, keyboards, and damned near any other instrument you can think of)
  • Precision F-Strike: "The W.A.N.D.", "I Was Zapped By the Lucky Super Rainbow" and, in a more somber delivery, "Ashes in the Air".
    • Done with the opening lines of "You Lust" - "You got a lot of nerve / a lot of nerve to fuck with me".
  • The Quiet One: Michael Ivins
  • Record Producer: Dave Fridmann, who has produced nearly all of the band's albums since In a Priest Driven Ambulance. "Nearly" because he was too busy with Mercury Rev and was replaced by Keith Cleversley for Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. Interestingly, this wasn't as big a change as it might seem since Cleversley had previously engineered Hit to Death in the Future Head, and Satellite Heart itself doesn't sound significantly different.
  • Rockumentary: The Fearless Freaks
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The song title "Riding to Work in the Year 2025 (Your Invisible Now)".
    • Possibly, although it could also be referring to "you" in the possessive sense, in that you are "possessing the invisible now." Knowing how bizarre Wayne is, it wouldn't be surprising.
  • Sampling: Some of the band's early songs had this, such as "Can't Stop the Spring" and "Love Yer Brain" from Oh My Gawd!!, and "Hell's Angel's Cracker Factory" from Telepathic Surgery.
  • Self-Titled Album: Well, more like Self-Titled EP, but still.
  • Serial Escalation: If you thought Zaireeka was crazy for being an album that requires four CDs to all be played simultaneously, the band released a free song via their YouTube channel called "Two Blobs Fucking." This one's split into twelve separate videos intended to be played simultaneously. Hope you have 11 friends with smart phones handy!
    • Another of the band's releases for 2011 was the song "I Found a Star on the Ground," which is 6 hours long. If that isn't enough, there is also "7 Skies H3," which is 24 hours long.
  • "Sesame Street" Cred: They've appeared on Yo Gabba Gabba!, doing a version of the Embryonic song "I Can Be a Frog". They also contributed the song "Spongebob and Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy" to the end credits and soundtrack for The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.
    • They also providing the backing music for the theme to the short-lived Duck Dodgers, with no less than Tom Jones(!) on the vocals.
  • Shout-Out: The title of the EP Yeah, I Know It's a Drag... But Wastin' Pigs Is Still Radical paraphrases dialogue from the film River's Edge - the actual line is just "Wastin' pigs is radical, man".
    • Early in their career, they had a tendency to reference or sample The Beatles - Oh My Gawd!!! has Beatles samples as Bookends ("Everything's Explodin'" begins with a sample of "Revolution 9", namely Yoko Ono saying "if... you become naked"; "Love Yer Brain" ends with a faint background loop of John Lennon singing "Turn off your mind, relax" from "Tomorrow Never Knows"), "Out For A Walk" seems to take it's clip of "La Marseillaise" straight from the intro of "All You Need Is Love", and "The Spontaneous Combustion Of John" quotes from "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill" ("Like the first time Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes")
    • "The Sun" slightly misquotes a line from Carole King's "So Far Away" ("It'd be so kind to see your face in my door", when in "So Far Away" it's "It'd be so fine to see your face in my door")
    • "In The Morning Of The Magicians" is seemingly named after The Morning of the Magicians, a book on the occult by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier. However, the song otherwise has absolutely nothing to do with the book.
  • Something Blues: "Charlie Manson Blues" from Hear It Is, "Talkin' 'bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)" from Hit to Death in the Future Head.
  • The Something Song: "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Steven Drozd on "Pompeii am Götterdämmerung", former drummer Richard English on "Can't Exist". Wayne Coyne was originally going to add his own vocals to "Pompeii..." too, but the band decided it sounded better with just a choir of Steven Drozds instead.
    • Steven Drozd sings also on "If" and "Sagittarius Silver Announcement".
  • Surreal Music Video: WHERE TO START?!?
  • Technician Versus Performer: Steven Drozd (Technician) vs Wayne Coyne (Performer). Steven is a multi-instrumentalist capable of playing guitar, keyboards, drums, bass, as well as creating multi-layered backing vocals, but Wayne's skill set is mostly limited to vocals and rhythm guitar. Despite this, Wayne is generally considered to be the spirit of the band, responsible for the lyrics and emotional textures of their songs as well as being the most active performer on stage.
  • Textless Album Cover: Embryonic, as well as the physical versions of The Terror.
  • Together in Death: "Pompeii am Götterdämmerung" depicts a couple committing suicide together by diving into an erupted volcano "as a symbolic sacrifice of their restricted love."
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: In the middle of "Do You Realize??", usually accompanied by very loud cheers at live shows.
    • Also occurs in "Suddenly Everything Has Changed", where each verse is in a different key.
    • "They Punctured My Yolk" modulates from C to D in the last verse.
  • We All Die Someday: "Do You Realize??"... along with a few others.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The basis of "Talkin' 'Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)."

Alternative Title(s): The Flaming Lips