The Flaming Lips release a song called 'Is David Bowie Dying?': Do they know something we don't?


Image Credit: Rui M. Leal/PR Photos; Janet Mayer/PR Photos

Not that the Flaming Lips need to explain their general weirdness to anyone, but the indie-psych stalwarts gave us pause with the title to their recently released song.

“Is David Bowie Dying?” is the first song on a very limited-release EP (only 1,000 copies) that is already available online, naturally. The tune — which is a collaboration with chillwave maestro Alan Palom of Neon Indian — is a neat little foray into eerie, atmospheric electronica that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Throbbing Gristle record or the second half of Bowie’s “Heroes.” You can listen to it here:

That connection to the British icon’s pioneering “Berlin period” might explain the song’s name, but it’s still a pretty unusual title — let’s hope they don’t have any inside info on Bowie’s health.

Honestly, it’s probably just one of those song titles that reference a celebrity for no real reason other than bringing to mind everything that figure represents in the public mind, like LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk is Playing at My House” or Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (an especially relevant connection given its use in The Hunger, starring Bowie). But at least Bauhaus waited until Lugosi was dead to sing about it — it seems a little premature to sing about Bowie’s demise even in jest.

One might even consider it a callous song title, given that Bowie did undergo an emergency heart surgery in 2004 after a routine inspection discovered he had a blocked artery, which could have been fatal.  Since then he’s mostly retired from music, occasionally popping up in odd guest vocal spots (Scarlett Johansson, TV on the Radio) and limited live concert appearances.

We reached out to the Bowie and Lips camps, but neither had any comment. What do you think — are we being too sensitive on behalf of the Thin White Duke? Maybe the Lips just named it on a lark. Or should they have thought longer and come up with a better song title? Or is it moot because we are all already dead?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix)

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Comments (24 total) Add your comment
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  • Jnvrmind

    Oh,this can sit next to Jack White and his fiber optic Jesus :)

  • LOL

    I hope this draws Bowie out of wherever he is. He’s been out of sight for too long.

    • John C.

      Amen to that. Hopefully Bowie goes out on tour now.

    • BJ

      Maybe they’re trying to draw him out of his shell. If so I hope it works.

  • rockatansky

    Notwithstanding the song itself, I think the title is a little on the insensitive side … but it is making news, and coupled with TOY’s leaked release some ten years later this week, we Bowie fans are glad to hear his name pop up online. However, if this song title is true, it’s not in the way we’d like it to …

  • donna schindler

    They are just doing for shock value. It’s sick. They are not fit to lick Bowies’ platforms. They probably ran out of money from selling the one hit song they had for a commercial and thought this would get them a little attention. The song is boring.

    • ed

      wow. shows how much you know about the flaming lips, they’ve seen plenty of success. if the song title pisses you off then i wonder how much you really like david bowie, i’m sure he isn’t bothered.

      • donna schindler

        Wow. I don’t want to know anything about the Flaming Lips, because their music stinks. I have been Bowie’s biggest fan since 74, however.

  • Renaton

    I remember reading on a music blog a few months ago that there was a rumor going on between the british press that Bowie was dying, but no one wanted to publish out of respect for Bowie. I wish I could remember where I read it.

    Makes sense the Flaming Lips heard about and decided to make a song as a tribute to Bowie’s Berlin trilogy.

  • Damon

    I bet that when R.E.M. released “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” you guys really thought that the apocalypse was actually coming. What a pointless article. Filler much? I’m more surprised that the writers of this blog know who Bauhaus are.

  • Jean Genie

    Yeah, I got my EW handle from a certain Bowie tune … I don’t like that Mercedes commercial with “Changes” though. It’s like the spot was made to get back at some other performer or whatever. Was it directed by Duncan Jones, BTW?

  • Dana

    That title is a a cheap marketing scam to get attention for the song. That’s all it is. But because it’s the Flaming Lips, people try to rationalize it or assume it’s something more than it is — which is a band taking advantage of a provocative title to get Web attention. Meanwhile, Bowie’s health is his private business. Really, really tacky move.

    • donna schindler

      I agree 100%. This is nothing but a cheap tacky sensationalist way to give attention to boring sub-par crap.

  • Hans M.

    Any true Bowie fan has wondered this. Bowie was in renaissance mode with his last two albums, produced by the man who also produced his Berlin trilogy, alluded to in this EW post. I love the Lips and I love Bowie, and I love that they ask a deep question on the state of Bowie, beyond the man. Bowie will never die. His legacy in music is in place. But are we losing touch with his musical value in the current progressive alt-rock world? The question is valid, and the music is suitable.

  • Shane Jones

    I’m worried now, anyone know how David Bowie is? I love him and his music. When’s the last time anyone has seen him? How did he seem?

  • Veronica

    Bowie is a musician. Bowie hasn’t written music in awhile and does limited live appearances… in a music sense, David is dying. They’re not referring to his health. They are referring to what he is and what he creates. I love Bowie, don’t really care about the flaming lips… but I don’t see how this title is a “cheap marketing scam”.

  • Sue Xian

    the matrix of the LP reads “The Flaming Lips hope David Bowie isn’t dying!”

  • Mariah

    I doubt he’s going to tour. From what I’ve seen and heard touring is work and it’s exhausting. He’s being a father and a husband. Anyone remember Duncan his first son? He was touring when he had him. Now he has his daughter and his wife, I think it’s cool that he’s not touring and spending his time with him.

    I’m grateful for all the music he did put out. No matter what anyone else might think, I think all his albums were good if you just accept them on their own.

    Still I don’t even want to think about the song title. That is a horrifying title to me, just having anyone’s name following dying is not really pleasant.

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