Race for the Prize

I can see myself listening to Flaming Lips all day. I think we all collectively suffered through a phase of post-Yoshimi Lips exhaustion at some point, but we’ve moved past that now. If anyone has the oeuvre to survive the curse of ubiquity, it’s the Flaming Lips. I’ve listening to them for years, sometimes heavily, and there are still corners – nay! entire neighborhoods – in their discography that I haven’t delved into yet. That’s because some of their work is so forbidding; I don’t have four independent sound systems to properly play Zaireeka, nor 24 hours of undivided attention to fully enjoy 7 Skies H3, and neither do most of us. But maybe one day I’ll have those things. Flaming Lips occupy an interesting territory, don’t they? They’re a popular band; everyone has heard at least a few of their hits and everyone has seen the crowdsurfing bubble pictures. Yet so much of their work is not only deeply weird, but straight-up literally inaccessible. They push music into the realm of conceptual art, where things exist just because they just do and the fact than nearly no-one is able to experience or enjoy them is part of the point. But then they also have songs that you’ve probably heard on a grocery store muzak station. So they have covered all of the bases on the continuum of artistic existence from for-everybody to for-nobody.

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