The 10 Best Flaming Lips Sci-Fi Songs

In honor of the band with the most U.F.O.s and robots, here are the ten best Flaming Lips songs based on all things science fiction.

6 - 1

6. "Time Travel... YES!"
("It Overtakes Me" single, 2006)

This b-side of the "It Overtakes Me" single from At War With the Mystics features Steve Burns of Blue's Clues fame (yes, the children's TV show). Burns began to collaborate with the Lips when he recorded an album produced by drummer Steve Drozd and starred as an astronaut in the band's Christmas on Mars film. The song features the altered voice of Burns, who sounds like an echoing, warped talking head from the '60s, giving a commentary on space travel. The music that surrounds his speech is alive with trippy Flaming Lips magic that could be part of a kids' TV show (like Blue's Clues). This idea isn't so far-fetched; the band did appear in Yo Gabba Gabba after all (see below).

5. "U.F.O.s Over Baghdad"
(Embryonic [Deluxe Version], 2009)

This bonus track on the deluxe version of Embryonic apparently was an outtake from 2006's At War With the Mystics. The song starts off with somber trumpet playing “TAPS“ amid electric interference, a ringing phone, and robot noise. Aside from the space sounds, the song is a straightforward rock song, adorned with some piano so simple and superb, it might make you wish the Flaming Lips recorded more piano-heavy pieces. The song also features ethereal harmonies about aliens landing in the Middle East in order to bring peace to the land. It then dissolves into sci-fi keyboards and a diabolic roar. A stirring appeal for goodwill towards men, U.F.O.s Over Bagdad is unfortunately lost as a bonus track.

4. "Sun Blows Up Today"
(The Terror, 2013)

Amid the dark splendor of the band's 13th album, The Terror, a bonus track called “Sun Blows Up Today“ stands out as a bright, fuzzy, clap-along about the sun exploding. While the song is included as a “bonus track“, it was the first track released from the album, featured in a Hyundai ad during the 2013 Super Bowl. The track is accompanied by an animated video made by long-time artistic partner George Salisbury.

3. "What Is the Light?"
(The Soft Bulletin, 1999)

The sixth track off The Soft Bulletin has the following subtitle: "An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting That the Chemical [In Our Brains] by Which We Are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love Is the Same Chemical That Caused the "Big Bang" That Was the Birth of the Accelerating Universe", which testifies to the Flaming Lips' love of kooky song titles. The lyrics examine people's auras and whether or not they are “chemically derived“, touching on the mortality theme the band is so fond of exploring. Meanwhile, the tune flip-flops between Coyne's vocals (accompanied by a single bass piano note) and elaborate strings that mirror the song's esoteric subject matter.

2. "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1"
(Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, 2002)

The title song of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is one of the Flaming Lips' most catchy pop songs. It tells the story of Yoshimi, “a black belt in Karate“ who must fight off giant pink robots that have come to invade the planet. It has been suggested that the pink robots are human beings and that Coyne was making social commentary in the song. Regardless of the song's true meaning, it remains one of the band's highest charting singles, reaching #18 on the UK charts. With oodles of outer space keyboards and fun background samples, the song captures the carefree spirit of the band.

1. "They Punctured My Yolk"
(Clouds Taste Metallic, 1995)

Like "Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World", this tune is from Clouds Taste Metallic, however the difference between the two songs is apparent. “Guy Who Saves the World“ relies on the guitar, whereas this tune employs operatic voices, piano, and theatrical lyrics. A tear-jerker, about an astronaut left behind while his crew takes off without him, the song can be interpreted in many ways: a lover leaving, losing a friend, or just feeling left behind in general. Whatever the case may be behind the poignant song lyrics, the music is grandiose, foreshadowing the majesty of songs like "Do You Realize??" and "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate". Interestingly, the Beastie Boys sampled the song in “We Got The“ from their To the 5 Boroughs album, released in 2004.

Prev Page
PM Picks
Pop Ten

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.