independent

Sunday 15 September 2019

Lips close in on Jay-z's record ...Westlife go out with a bang

WITH JIM HAYES

You just have to love The Flaming Lips. In their 29-year career the Oklahoma outfit have rarely failed to entertain with their experiments in psychedelic pop, elaborately theatrical live shows and wacky stunts. In all the mayhem, they've produced some great music too, notably 1999's ' The Soft Bulletin', arguably the best album of that year.

At the start of 2011 the band announced they would be releasing a new song every month of the year. They went on to do much more, with a whole series of EPs, live recordings and limited edition releases, including (wait for it) a 24-hour song called ' 7 Skies H3'. It's still streaming on a never-ending loop on www.flaminglipstentyfourhoursong.com if you have the time and the inclination to tune in. The song was also made available for purchase as a hard drive encased in an actual human skull, limited to 13 copies, probably for obvious reasons.

This week The Flaming Lips are off on another adventure. It doesn't top the human skull hard drive but will probably put the Flaming Lips in the Guinness Book of Records and, even more satisfying, get one over on Jay Z .

As your read this the Lips are limbering up for an attempt to break the record for the most concerts in a single day. Starting at 4 p.m. in Memphis this Wednesday (27th) the band fronted by the wonderfully eccentric Wayne Coyne will attempt to play eight concerts to break a world record set by Jay Z in 2006. The 24-hour gig includes shows at 1 a.m. and 6.30 a.m.

The whole project will be streamed live on OMusicAwards.com. The Flaming Lips will travel from venue to venue on ' The Endeavour' tour bus and each concert will feature an eclectic mix of artists.

Coyne says he doesn't remember if he was asked or volunteered for the marathon.

'I've accepted the job of, not driving, but commandeering the Magical Mystery Merry Prankster bus. And I've explained to the music freaks at MTV, VH1 and CMT that I am not a host. But, I always liked the way Jerry Lewis would get all sweaty toward the end of his yearly telethon. To play and sing Flaming Lips songs at 8 o'clock in the morning. Well. I'm open to new experiences,' he says.

Westlife signed off in style at the weekend in front of 170,000 fans over a couple of nights at Croke Park. Fans were close to coronaries as the four appeared to be burned alive on stage, but it was merely an illusion and the real Westlife soon appeared unscathed to wow their audience with a greatest hits show at the end of a long farewell.

There was no hint of the 'irreparable rift' claimed in some newspapers after the band announced they were going their separate ways after 14 years.

Despite their last single 'Lighthouse' only charting at number 33, Westlife chalked up 14 UK number ones and sold over 45 million records worldwide in a career that nobody could have foreseen in their boyband early days.

Their record of consecutive number ones was only topped by Elvis and The Beatles and will probably never be beaten, given that downloads and physical sales are now combined in determining chart positions.

Westlife's one regret will surely be that they never really cracked the US market. 'Flying Without Wings' was a number 2 hit in the Billboard charts, not for the Irish band but for American Idol Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard who released it as his debut single.

Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne vow they will never reunite but I would take that with a pinch of salt: history has many examples of such vows broken as the desire for a few quick bucks and another 15 minutes in the spotlight becomes just too great to ignore.

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