The Flaming Lips - Video Overview In Deceleration DVD

Music videos have gotten a bad rap since the glory days of MTV ended. In the 80’s, as you may remember, it was all about the music video. The once-revolutionary medium has enjoyed some ecstatic highs and embarrassing lows over the past 20-plus years, and an entire generation of music lovers has been along for the ride. Currently, it seems that the possibilities have been nearly exhausted for music videos. When you can actually catch a video between the endless array of reality (i.e., filming stuff that happens) shows and teenage slop on MTV, it’s never much of an experience.
Leave it to The Flaming Lips to capture the best traits of the format, and to go practically unnoticed while doing so, over the past 13 years. While watching VOID (Video Overview In Deceleration), you'll realize that a music video benefits immensely from music that is good. With 19 tracks that span their lengthy career remastered in 5.1 surround sound, this DVD plays like the ultimate Lips mix tape. That alone is worth the price of admission, but the videos are equally mesmerizing.

The videos presented here make a great companion to the Flaming Lips documentary The Fearless Freaks. I'd even go so far as to say that if you've seen one, the other is essential. The two presentations are not directly related and couldn't be more different in their subject matter, but in the videos you can easily feel the genuine honesty of the band and life that is so vibrantly portrayed in The Fearless Freaks. Many of the video locations are recognizable as Lips leader Wayne Coyne's neighborhood in Oklahoma City, and some of the same footage surfaces. It's easy to feel connected to a random street in the middle of America when the characters that inhabit it are so intriguing.

Some of these videos were produced with mass consumption in mind, but others are homemade gems that had previously been available only via the internet. The newest Lips track, "Mr. Ambulance Driver," is a typically obtuse opus about waiting for salvation, or just some help from an EMT. The video features the band performing in a barren room with a sparse setup while a young man with a severely injured hand shakes and shimmies his way all over the place, occasionally interjecting bits of his hand's story and ruminations on life. Weird enough for ya? No? Then check out the "Psychic Wall" video (of Spongebob Squarepants Movie fame), which takes place inside a giant, frothing mouth. "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1" is a celebratory affair, filmed inside a club full of gyrating, animal costume-wearing, spotlight waving, confetti-covered revelers. "Do You Realize" has the band wandering through a dark field, accompanied by companions that create an atmosphere similar to "Yoshimi."

All the new stuff is wonderfully done, but the real gems are the videos from the mid-90's that were made with the band's artistic enjoyment at the forefront. "This Here Giraffe" delivers on its promise of giraffes, and "Bad Days" might be the highlight of the whole set. The band rolls through the joyous song with drums set up on (and often toppling from) a bed. "When You Smile" is a must for fans of Lips, natch. Then there's the ubiquitous and colorful "She Don't Use Jelly," and if you haven't seen this video in a decade, it's a goose bump-inducing reminder of the first time you heard it.

VOID may look like a simple compilation of videos to most, but further inspection will reveal the relentless emotion and unfettered expression that personify The Flaming Lips. Their irrelevancy makes them relevant for any generation to enjoy.

-- Bryan Rodgers