Wayne Coyne is not one for subtlety. Take, for example, his Chewbacca-themed tribute to Bowie, and it becomes easy to see that, at least when it comes to sheer theatricality, he gives even the Starman a run for his money (and when it comes to sheer irreverence, wins out). It may be a surprise then, that The Flaming Lips’ “Space Oddity” cover begins by fairly faithfully recreating the original. But just wait for where you’d normally hear “liftoff,” however, and a supersized synth hit segues into an otherwise stripped-back arrangement: the guitar drops out, and we’re left only with Coyne’s reverb-drenched vocals, a few synth pads, and an oddly electronic-sounding drum beat. A color gradient suddenly washes over the song’s accompanying video (reminiscent of the original), and we’re transported “far above the world.”
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Thankfully, there’re no impertinent Star Wars references here. The video, if anything, depicts Coyne effectively eulogizing Bowie, clad in a spacey jumpsuit, presiding with lasers over a balloon-filled church as some drugged-out nuns mourn the same. Never mind the troubling fact that one of the nuns inextricably undresses in what looks like a failed Terry Richardson photoshoot: if there were ever a Flaming Lips funeral for Bowie, this would be it, and it’s actually kind of touching.