As all the good little music nerds awoke this morning to check their Twitter feeds, they found a rather surprising gift: like the unexpected, oddly shaped package beneath the back of a Christmas tree, a new video to the Flaming Lips / Bon Iver collaboration “Ashes In The Air” from 2012 release The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends.
I was one of those good little music nerds this morning. I excitedly clicked on the YouTube link. I was slowed down by a request to verify I was over the age of 18 – which in hindsight should have served as warning – but I raced on toward what I was sure would be some weirdly beautiful moment in music video history.
What awaited me was three minutes and 57 seconds of what was potentially the most disturbingly weird thing I’ve ever seen.
Wayne Coyne, the front man of The Flaming Lips, has built a career on being weird, and he’s certainly achieved a certain amount of rock-god immortality. But this video is a step too far.
The video opens with a barefoot spaceman-looking creature pulling a baby out of some sort of portal, except the baby appears to be wrapped in tin foil and – SURPRISE! - it has the face of a grown man. If you can get past a man-infant cooing the lyric “You and me / We’re both so fucked up,” then you move on to Phase Two of the disturbing montage, which involves bloody, naked bodies and exposed brain matter.
If you’re still watching the video after that, congratulations! Not only are you most likely deeply disturbed, but now you get to watch the spaceman put the man-infant in a meat grinder!
Justin Vernon is pulling a real Selena Gomez circa "Spring Breakers" with this one. Never again will we view him as the kindhearted, balding man who sang sweet lullabies to us from a cabin in the woods. No, that Justin Vernon has died and is buried somewhere beneath the toxic wasteland that serves as the backdrop to the newest Flaming Lips video.
Or perhaps the man-infant is meant to symbolize Justin Vernon’s former self. Perhaps the barefoot spaceman is putting the formerly innocent and gentle Justin Vernon through the meat grinder. It’s all very symbolic – or so we hope.