The 20 Best Flaming Lips Songs

Music Lists

Tomorrow, Wayne Coyne and his band of fearless freaks will unleash The Terror, their 13th studio album. While it’s nearly impossible to whittle their 30-year career down to 20 tracks, we’re counting down our favorites below in anticipation of the new record. Be sure to let us know your favorites in the comments section.

20. Guy Who Got a Headache and Accidentally Saves the World
Sometimes we slave away for years in pursuit of greatness, and sometimes we stumble upon it. The protagonist of this Clouds Taste Metallic track gets a migraine and “thinking that his head surely would explode, his thoughts go deeper” until he saves the world and wins the Nobel prize. That metallic flavor of those clouds? It comes from their silver lining.

19. Moth in the Incubator
“Moth in the Incubator” only clocks in at 4:12, but it still manages to squeeze in three distinct movements. We start with the sparse, spacey intro before moving into the song’s driving middle, finally breaking out into a trippy jam to bring it home.

18. The Spiderbite Song
By now, we all know the legend of this Soft Bulletin track: Multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd got bitten by a poisonous spider and nearly had to have his arm amputated, and Wayne Coyne penned this song about his bandmate’s close call. But Drozd later revealed that the “spider bite” was actually an infection from shooting heroin. Today, he’s clean and sober, making Coyne’s declaration of “I was glad that it didn’t destroy you, how sad that would be” all the more poignant.

17. Evil
“Evil” is much bleaker than most of the band’s catalog, and, like much of Embryonic, it’s a good indication of what we can expect on The Terror. Here, they play with the soundscape, giving us drones and darker lyrics that carry them outside their comfort zone.

16. Turn it On
This one’s a feel-good anthem, an ode to being unafraid to be yourself. “Turn it on and turn it all the way up,” indeed.

15. Waitin’ For A Superman
A pretty melancholy number, “Waitin’ For A Superman” reminds us things can sometimes get too weighty even for superheroes. “Tell everybody waiting for Superman that they should try to hold on best they can,” Coyne sings. “He hasn’t dropped them, forgot them or anything / It’s just too heavy for Superman to lift.”

14. Free Radicals
This At War With The Mystics track features a positively addictive guitar riff and the band at its most political. Donald Trump gets name-dropped (and not in a good way), and Coyne sneers “you think you’re radical, but you’re not so radical / In fact, you’re fanatical.” Preach, Wayne.

13. Five Stop Mother Superior Rain
Off of 1990’s In a Priest Driven Ambulance, this song is the Flaming Lips sounding the closest they ever will to alt-country.

12. It Overtakes Me
The first words we hear on this track are Wayne Coyne saying, “You can turn it up even a little bit more,” and he’s right; this is one to play loud. It starts out with a funky bassline that won’t quit—well, before it kinda does halfway through and the song becomes sparse and ethereal.

11. Shine On Sweet Jesus
We know we’re in for a weird ride from the first few bars of this one, as carnival noises devolve into ‘90s fuzz.

Tomorrow, Wayne Coyne and his band of fearless freaks will unleash The Terror, their 13th studio album. While it’s nearly impossible to whittle their 30-year career down to 20 tracks, we’re counting down our favorites below in anticipation of the new record. Be sure to let us know your favorites in the comments section.

10. The Spark That Bled
“The Spark That Bled” has become a bit of a live staple for the band, and it’s no wonder: There are few things as life-affirming as its simple declaration of “I stood up and I said yeah.” It might not cause a chain reaction in the song’s universe, but in a crowd of Flaming Lips fans? Forget about it.

9. Bad Days
Remember that obnoxious Daniel Powter song, “Bad Day”? This is everything that isn’t: mischievous, catchy without being annoying, an all-around great track. Plus, it doles out some advice we can get behind: “You have to sleep late when you can, and all your bad days will end.”

8. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
This is another one that’s become part of the Lips canon, and although it sounds cheery on the surface, it actually boasts some thought-provoking lyrics. Those “yeah yeah yeah”s come in response to questions like “if you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich, would you do it?” and “if you could watch everybody work while just laying on your back, would you do it?” Coyne implores us to consider what we’d do if we found ourselves in a position of privilege. As Spider-Man’s uncle would say, with great power comes great responsibility.

7. The W.A.N.D.
This song’s full title alone—”The Will Always Negates Defeat”—makes this one great to work out to, but even if physical activity’s not really your thing, you can appreciate its triumphant sentiments. “We got the power now, motherfuckers,” Coyne declares. “It’s where it belongs.”

6. A Spoonful Weighs A Ton
We’ll let you form your own theory as to what that titular “spoonful” is a reference to, but ultimately this is a lovely song about people banding together despite all odds to lift up the sun: “Yelling as hard as they can / The doubters all were stunned / Heard louder than a gun / The sounds they made was love.”

5. Fight Test
Sure, this one bears some pretty strong similarities to Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son”—so much so, in fact, that Stevens receives royalties for the track—but that doesn’t make this Yoshimi opener any less great.

4. Race for the Prize
This Soft Bulletin single is so enduring that, last year—13 years after its initial release—it became the official fight song of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Flaming Lips’ hometown NBA team.

3. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1
For a song about a Japanese black belt doing battle with evil pink robots, this one’s surprisingly straightforward—an acoustic guitar riff and a little faith that humanity will prevail.

2. She Don’t Use Jelly
This 1993 song remains the Flaming Lips’ biggest radio hit to date, and although they’ve put out much of their strongest material since then, it still serves a perfect mission statement for the group—a celebration of the weird quirks we all have, a call to let our freak flags fly.

1. Do You Realize??
It’s been called the “Imagine” of its generation, and while that may be overstating things just a tad, it’s hard to argue with Wayne Coyne’s most gorgeous lyrics. Like life itself, it’s bittersweet—Coyne reminds us that life goes fast, that everyone we know someday will die, but he softens the blow with a beautiful sentiment: “Instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know that you realize.” In other words, life’s short—grab a loved one, turn this one up and tell them how you feel.

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