#924: ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Pt. 1’ – The Flaming Lips

There’s somewhat of another milestone occurring today with this track, and although it’s nothing entirely special, it is however the first time this countdown has seen an artist appearing more than once. Since opening this countdown with The Flaming Lips’ ‘She Don’t Use Jelly‘, the group haven’t been heard from again. But now they return with the first half of the title track to their 2002 album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots.

While I don’t really recall how I first came upon this record from the group, it quickly grew to become my favourite release of theirs. Arguably one of their most popular records, (which is surprising, considering that just two records earlier, they had been making a four-disc aural experiment by way of Zaireeka) it has gone on to even be adapted into a musical back in 2012. While many have considered the record to be a concept album about the titular Yoshimi and her battle with cancer, frontman Wayne Coyne denies it is a concept album as a whole, which is fair considering that the record’s ‘plot’ peters out after four songs.

In fact, when asked about the musical in 2007, Coyne described the plot of it, and the album, as such. “There’s the real world and then there’s this fantastical world. This girl, the Yoshimi character, is dying of cancer. And these two guys are battling to come visit her in the hospital. And as one of the boyfriends envisions trying to save the girl, he enters this other dimension where Yoshimi is this Japanese warrior and the pink robots are an incarnation of her disease. It’s almost like the disease has to win in order for her soul to survive. Or something like that.”

The title track is often assumed to be sung from the perspective of Yoshimi’s body, as it pleads in hope that Yoshimi will fight against her disease, eventually coming through unscathed. While utlising The Flaming Lips’ trademark kookiness in terms of musicality, production, and lyrics, the song’s message is ultimately uplifting and somewhat hopeful in the grand scheme of the record’s supposed plot. Given that the song usually becomes a crowd favourite in the band’s live shows, it seems that the track’s real meaning is either overlooked or misunderstood by many. Regardless, the track remains one of the band’s most popular, and rightly so.

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