Top 10 Favorite Flaming Lips Songs

Wow. The Flaming Lips. What a strange journey they have had. It’s kind of weird to see their fame and growth. Thank you Roberta Patersen, for signing them to Warner in ’91. Remember the 90210 cameo? I sort of feel like how I did when the Smashing Pumpkins exploded in ’93. But I guess when you are indie royalty it’s different or something. Can you be indie royalty on a major label? Oh I get it. Alternative became mainstream in the 90s and indie became major in the new millennium. I get the flow.

What’s sad is that since the Lips exploded they haven’t put out anything I’ve liked. And it has nothing to do with their popularity. At least I don’t think. I couldn’t care less about that. In fact I am happy for them. And happy to hear people talking about them. Most notably, I am happy their old horrid website finally got updated. I believe their last completely breathtaking album was in 1999. Since then, they have reinvented themselves a few times. Sadly, going in no direction that spoke to me. Maybe they need to go back to their roots. But wait, the critics all seem to think they do that each record they put out. Go figure.

What’s Interesting, as I just talked about the Smashing Pumpkins, I figured out a parallel. And I’ll do it as an equation.

Siamese Dream = Transmissions From The Satellite Heart (Success)

Mellon Collie and Infinite Sadness = The Soft Bulletin (Huge success)

And after The Soft Bulletin (and Mellon Collie) there wasn’t one song I played more than a few times. Sadly. I even would try the records again every few months, just to check to see if I was missing something all the critics were talking about. In fact, since then, I’ve sold my Yoshimi record and singles and I never even bought the disaster that followed. Yuck.

Here are my Top 10 songs:

  1. Kim’s Watermelon Gun (Clouds Taste Metallic) – I remember drawing a picture of this song for an ex-girlfriend. Can one distort their guitar anymore than on this record?
  2. Buggin’ (The Soft Bulletin) – The bass is stellar – that’s all that can be said.
  3. Superhumans (Transmissions From The Satellite Heart) – This was my theme song and shower singing song in college. Sometimes I cry a little when I hear this song. Out of joy, mainly and from singing so loud. There’s something about the lyrics that really speak to me.
  4. The Big Ol’ Bug Is The New Baby Now (Zaireeka) – I guess after a band comes out with a 4 disc set where all the discs are supposed to be played at the same time on different machines you are instantly dubbed an “art band” – Whatever. It’s simple and it’s genius, to me. PS. If you own this you must do yourself a public service and try it. If it’s not perfect, you’ve done it right.
  5. Unconsciously Screamin’ (In A Priest Driven Ambulance) – The earlier days seemed to be riddled with hit or misses. This was a hit.
  6. Talkin’ ‘Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues [Everyone Wants to Live Forever] (Hit to Death in the Future Head) – What’s up with the Lips and their long titles?
  7. Lightning Strikes The Policeman (Clouds Taste Metallic) – Always a great narrative from Wayne.
  8. Be My Head (Transmissions from the Satellite Heart) – “Be my head, and I’ll be yours” – Genius.
  9. Okay, I’ll Admit That I Really Don’t Understand (Zaireeka) – Mainly drums, bass and vox. Really, what else does one need? Did I mention the drums?
  10. The Gash [Battle Hymn for the Wounded Mathematician] (The Soft Bulletin) – The vocal doublers. The vocal doublers. It took me about 4 years to find this song. I admit it.

I still think Wayne is inspirational and I love how he doesn’t take life so seriously. It’s a laudable trait to have in the biz. In fact I think he should be a motivational speaker. He’d be successful. What I do have are many records from the Lips that I love and cherish, so I’ll focus on that for now.

9 Responses to “Top 10 Favorite Flaming Lips Songs”

  • Tickets for their show down here are going on sale tomorrow at 10am. I think I’m going to take an important phone call around 9:58 which will require me to close my office door.

    Bands never play in the Tampa Bay area. Florida is very lame. So I’m pretty excited.

  • “The Gash [Battle Hymn for the Wounded Mathematician] (The Soft Bulletin) – The vocal doublers. The vocal doublers. It took me about 4 years to find this song. I admit it.”

    Man, that one hit me almost immediately. Soft Bulletin is, imo, one of the all-time greats.

    As for their restless pursuit of something new, that’s what’s so great about them, even if their old diehards lose the thread along the way ;). Life isn’t about only doing what you know works. I do think Mystics exhibits more of their roots than Yoshimi, but yeah definitely not a return to the familiar.

  • Oh, also, I love Mystics. And while I find Yoshimi to be decent, imo, it’s not all it’s hyped to be by any stretch.

  • Eric,

    I agree it’s not about what works all the time. Especially for a consistently changing band. Clearly they reinvented themselves on pretty much every record they’ve ever done. Even in the 80s, to a degree.

    And I don’t think it was because they didn’t return to what was familiar on Yoshimi or Mystics that made it a bad record. Returning to what’s familiar would have equally bored me.

    I just didn’t like any of the lyrics on Mystics. The production was sub par for Dave and as a whole just sounded like they put it together overnight using formulas for songwriting.

    Those two records just never spoke to me on any musical level. As Flaming Lips records or simply as rock/pop/whatever records.

    But if it works for other people, and clearly it does, more power to them!

  • Well, I do think the Lips’ songwriting and production “style,” which I think reached maturity on Soft Bulletin, was fully evident on especially Mystics. With Yoshimi, I think the problem was that they tried a little too hard to continue down the path they began on with the Parking Garage Experiments, refined to great effect on Zaireeka, and which ultimately inspired the genius that was SB.

    I think at some point truly brilliant bands kind of realize their stylistic potential and then sort of hit cruise control in that regard. It happened to the Dead, it happened to Miles. It happens to probably any great musician who plays until they die. IMO, Mystics seems to acknowledge that reality and embraces it. I actually love a lot of the themes explored in the lyrics as they resonate with a lot of how I view and experience and am awed and humbled by the world. But, at this point, I think the Lips’ pursuit will probably continue to be of personal expression rather than of tearing down and rebuilding modern pop music on their own terms. But, shit, they’ve earned it.

  • Maybe I missed something and I guess it’s another topic for another day, but the Parking Garage Experiments I heard (and the bootlegs of the shows they did trying to recreate them) were pretty avant and out there. It was closest to musique concrete. Sounding completely not on the same planet as Yoshimi. Maybe I misunderstood what you were connecting.

    But yeah, they have earned the world. I am just happy I have the records they put out that still move me.

  • I’m not saying it sounds the same. Soft Bulletin, while much of it came directly out of the Zaireeka sessions, which was directly inspired by the Experiments, doesn’t sound the same, either.

    My point was just that, imo, Yoshimi seems to be an effort to keep alive the evolution that started with the Experiments. And my point is that it didn’t work. It sounds forced. Mystics would’ve been a much better follow up album to SB. It’s more honest.

  • I agree Mystics would have been a better follow up to SB. No doubt.

  • Wow! That’s the first opinion about the post-SB Lips that we’ve agreed on! 😉

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