Halftime Leisure

Flaming Lips Set Sgt. Pepper on Fire

November 10, 2014

After thirty years, twenty albums, and tours around the world, The Flaming Lips have proven they are anything but irrelevant with a cover of/tribute to The Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which they’ve renamed With a Little Help from my Friend. While not nearly as genre-defining and innovative as the original, the similarly psychedelic cover album speaks wonders of The Flaming Lips’ creative confidence.

Most artists would be too afraid to take on this concept not only because of the unprecedented legacy of The Beatles themselves, but also because the legendary 1967 album changed the course of modern rock music. Who better to cover the entire album than a group as bold and eccentric as The Flaming Lips?

Lead singer Wayne Coyne said that the success of The Beatles’ innovative approach on Sgt. Pepper only encouraged his group to use their own original creativity to deconstruct the album. They didn’t shy away from the fear that they could never measure up, but instead were inspired to analyze and add their take on the album as a part of the creative process.

The Flaming Lips’ unusual take, while viewed by Beatles purists and almost all critics as a total destruction of the original masterpiece, has undoubtedly caused a wave of confusion and intrigue about their music. Its interpretation, while progressive and mysteriously strange at times, has the same innovative approach and wild ideas that Paul McCartney originally had while conceptualizing Sgt. Pepper.

For example, the cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” featuring Moby and Miley Cyrus, preserves the psychedelic mix of beats and soft, up-tempo vocals on the original while adding in layers of dark, dramatic, electric guitar. This echos in the background, expressing an element of the space rock sound that the Flaming Lips are known for. The result is impressive, but in an entirely different way from John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s original composition.

Drawing from The Beatles’ revolutionary ideas, The Flaming Lips employ their nature of nonconformity to challenge the idea of alternative music. Their unique and adventurous covers continue to solidify The Flaming Lips as a legendary four piece outfit of musical troublemakers. Sound familiar?

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