Published Dec 13, 2011It's hard to think of a group who have more successfully adapted to the downfall of the CD than the Flaming Lips. The famed psych troupe didn't put out an official LP in 2011, but they remained a staple in the headlines thanks to their head-scratching string of unconventional releases and goofball antics.
Here's a look back on the five most memorable moments in the band's excellent 2011 campaign. From dizzyingly epic songs to near-death experiences to edible EPs, these guys did it all this year. Well, except for release a "proper" album, of course. Maybe next year.
Top 5 Highlights from the Flaming Lips' Wild Year:
5. Song for 12 iPhones
Way back in 1997, the Flaming Lips embraced CD technology when they released Zaireeka, a four-disc album intended to be played simultaneously on four separate CD players. Now imagine that times three. "Two Blobs Fucking" is designed to be played by streaming YouTube clips on 12 separate iPhones (or similar mobile units), meaning that you're going to have to host a big iPhone party if you want to listen to this squelchy experimental track properly.
4. The Oklahoma Stage Collapse
This summer, there was a disturbing trend of fatal stage collapses. Luckily, no one was injured when heavy rains and winds knocked over the lighting rig at a Tulsa, OK block party shortly before the Flaming Lips were due to play. Though everyone made it out okay, the band reportedly suffered a whopping $80,000 in damages. There's nothing like a near-death experience to make you want to finally realize all of those crazy ideas you've been cooking up.
3. Six-Hour Song with a Strobe Light
Vinyl LPs could fit around 25 minutes per side. CDs brought that number up to 80 minutes. But with digital music, the sky's the limit. The Flaming Lips made the most of the endless possibilities of the MP3 when they recorded an epic six-hour song, "I Found This Star on the Ground," which frontman Wayne Coyne described as "the Velvet Underground meets Super Mario Brothers." As if that weren't enough, they released it alongside a strobe light toy that's intended to be played with while listening to the song and tripping on LSD.
2. Gummy Song Skull EP
Although it didn't quite top our list, this was the moment that truly set the standard for the Flaming Lips' wacky year. This EP was saved on a USB stick and housed inside of a life-size replica of a human skull made out of edible gummy candy. This spawned crazy spin-offs like a marijuana-scented skull, a skull with a vagina in the back, and a gummy fetus. But it was the original gummy skull that got the wheels in motion and proved that anything was possible for this forward-thinking group.
1. 24-Hour Song Inside a Human Skull
What's even more ambitious than a six-hour song? A 24-hour song. And what's even weirder and more unsettling than a skull replica made of gummy candy? An actual human skull. The Flaming Lips outdid themselves when they penned a day-long song called "7 Skies H3" and placed it on a hard drive inside the head of an actual real-life human dead person -- topped with chrome drips, no less. Only 13 of these were made and they sold for $5,000 each. A small price to pay for what has to be one of the craziest music releases ever, let alone of 2011.