The Flaming Lips’ music continued to evolve into a mix of indie rock, electronic, pop and psychedelic. The Flaming Lips’ 1999 album The Soft Bulletin was their most critically acclaimed album at the time and propelled them to a wider audience. In the early 2000’s the Flaming Lips released Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, the most successful album the band had released after two decades. The Flaming Lips’ lineup has changed multiple times over the years. The three most prominent members are vocalist and guitar player Wayne Coyne, bassist Michael Ivins and Steven Drozd who began as the bands drummer but ended up becoming a multi instrumentalist and co-songwriter with Coyne. They have released multiple albums since Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. They continue to tour and record to this day, collaborating with artists as diverse as Yoshimi, Jack White, Miley Cyrus and Beck.
10. The Ceiling Is Bendin
Opening up our Top 10 Flaming Lips songs list is the great song “The Ceiling Is Bendin.” First appeared on their second studio album Oh My Gawd!!! which was released in 1987. It starts quietly like a typical punk song before the punk beat picks up. “The Ceiling Is Bendin” degenerates into a frantic psychedelic swirl of noise, guitars and falsetto vocals. The lyrics seem to describe someone having an intense drug induced trip. Paired with the music “The Ceiling Is Bendin” provides a surreal, psychedelic assault on the senses.
9. Mr. Ambulance Driver
The Flaming Lips song “Mr. Ambulance Driver,” was released on their 2006 album At War With the Mystics. “Mr. Ambulance Driver,” begins with sirens, setting the mode and tone of the song. Electronic beats and live drum kits were both used to create the rhythm. Coyne’s voice is soft and melancholy. The guitar is subtle and is mixed with sound effects and strings. The song is very atmospheric. The lyrics seem to be from the point of view of someone that has lost a loved one and wishes that they could trade places.
8. It Overtakes Me
Also from The Flaming Lips 2006 album At War With the Mystics. “It Overtakes Me” is based on a catchy bass riff repeated through the song. Coyne’s layered vocals sing rhymes about being overtaken. “It Overtakes Me” is a fun pop song. Coyne’s production seamlessly melds electronic and live instrumentation. “It Overtakes Me” was the title of a four track EP released the same year.
7. Jesus Shootin’ Heroin
From their first studio release, 1986’s Hear It Is. “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin” is one of the Flaming Lips’ darkest and heaviest songs. “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin’s” stark instrumentation adds to the overall effect of the song. The verses are sung and played softly while the chorus is loud and noisy. “Jesus Shootin’ Heroin” has a very grungy sound. The dark subject matter, quiet verse and loud chorus structure would be used by multiple bands including The Pixies and Nirvana.
6. Kim’s Watermelon Gun
Released in 1995 by Warner Bros. Records. “Kim’s Watermelon Gun” is a catchy, upbeat indie pop song. The lyrics are playful. Coyne sings in a much higher voice than he did in the Flaming Lips’ eighties and post millennium records. “Kim’s Watermelon Gun” features indie rock guitar riffs by Ronald Jones. “Kim’s Watermelon Gun” is a perfect example of the Flaming Lips’ indie rock oriented sound in the mid 90’s.
5. One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morn.
Released in 1987 on the Flaming Lip’s own label, Restless Records. “One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning” appeared on their second studio album Oh My Gawd!!!. “One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning” is an excellent example of the Flaming Lips’ fusion of punk and psychedelic rock. It starts off with a slow psychedelic guitar riff and slowly builds towards an explosion of psychedelic punk and noise.
The lyrics have a surreal touch. “One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning” set the Flaming Lips’ apart from their punk peers, who tended to prefer short songs.“One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning” is nine and a half minutes long.“One Million Billionth of a Millisecond on a Sunday Morning” sounded nothing like their punk and indie peers at the time and the closest comparison to it would be “Careful With That Axe (Eugene)” by Pink Floyd.
4. She Don’t Use Jelly
Released as a single from their 1993 album Transmissions From The Satellite Heart. “She Don’t Use Jelly” was the band’s first big success after a decade as an underground band. “She Don’t Use Jelly” features mellow acoustic guitar on the verses and pedal steel guitars for the choruses. “She Don’t Use Jelly” has a sound rooted in indie rock. The verses are nonsense about people eating Vaseline or wiping their noses with magazines. “She Don’t Use Jelly” became more popular when it was featured on MTV’s Beavis and Butthead. “She Don’t Use Jelly” has since been covered by the band Drugstore and KT Tunstall.
3. Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)
Released on their 2003 masterpiece Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon” is an entirely instrumental track. Notably “Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon” won a Grammy award in 2003 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
2. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (With All Your Power)
The opening track to 2006’s At War With the Mystics. “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” features prominent acoustic and electric guitars, moving away from their more electronic experiments. In each verse Coyne asks the listener what they would do with certain powers. In the end he concludes that we can’t trust ourselves with too much power. “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” has a falsetto introduction and the background vocals sing “yeah yeah yeah” repeatedly throughout the song save for the last verse where they switch to saying “no.” “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” is extremely catchy with its semi-acoustic indie rock/pop sound.
1. Do You Realize??
Perhaps their most famous song, “Do You Realize??” appeared on their acclaimed 2003 release Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. “Do You Realize??” is based around a strummed acoustic melody for the verses and soaring group vocals and strings for the choruses. In the lyrics of “Do You Realize??” Coyne asks the listener a series of philosophical questions and in the end urges people not to say goodbye or wait for the future to realize the greatness in their lives.
“Do You Realize??” keeps up a steady pace until it slows down for the last verse. “Do You Realize??” is the Flaming Lips; most famous song reaching number thirty-two on the UK singles chart.