At their best, the Flaming Lips made challenging, inventive, and colorful pop music. Now, they’re Miley Cyrus’ backup band on a pointless award show, and the only color they’re showing is the neon paint slathered across their tired faces. Last night on the MJ-starring Billboard Music Awards, Miley and the Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd covered “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” because of course they did, to promote their forthcoming Beatles covers album, With a Little Help From My Fwends.
It’s a long drop from the playful brilliance of The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The Lips no longer sound like Coachella headliners; they’re the guys with garbage bag shoes making noise in the Burning Man parking lot. So, what happened? Honestly, I don’t think much has. Coyne has always been one weird jerk, but he was a weird jerk…who made At War with the Mystics! Now that he’s $lumming with Ke$ha, it’s hard to make excuses for him. It’s easier to look past the crazy, and maybe even embrace it, when you’re singing along to “Do You Realize??” Not so much when you’re trying to make sense of a colloboration with Hannah Montana at an award show with Pitbull.