The Soft Bulletin

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The Soft Bulletin
Soft Bulletin cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 17, 1999
RecordedApril 1997 – February 1999
StudioTarbox Road Studios, Cassadaga, New York
LabelWarner Bros.
The Flaming Lips chronology
The Soft Bulletin
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Singles from The Soft Bulletin
  1. "Race for the Prize"
    Released: June 14, 1999
  2. "Waitin' for a Superman"
    Released: September 6, 1999

The Soft Bulletin is the ninth studio album by American rock band The Flaming Lips, released by Warner Bros. Records on May 17, 1999 in the United Kingdom, and on June 22, 1999 in the United States. The album was released to widespread acclaim, and was hailed by critics as a departure from their previous guitar-heavy alternative rock sound into a more layered, intricately arranged work.

Music and lyrics[edit]

The album was considered to mark a change in the course for the band, with more traditional catchy melodies, accessible-sounding music (their previous album Zaireeka was a quadruple album of experimental sounds meant to be played on four separate stereo systems simultaneously), and more serious and thoughtful lyrics.[3]

The album was also noted for its fusion of ordinary rock instruments, electronic beats and synthesizers. Its large, layered, symphonic sound has also earned it a reputation as the Pet Sounds of the 1990s from a few critics.[4][5]


The cover artwork of the album is a modified version of a photograph taken by Lawrence Schiller for a 1966 Life magazine article on LSD.[6]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[8]
Entertainment WeeklyA[9]
The Guardian4/5 stars[10]
Melody Maker4/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[14]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[15]
The Village VoiceB[17]

The Soft Bulletin was lauded by critics and fans alike and topped numerous "Best of 1999" lists. The album is now considered by many to be the Flaming Lips's masterpiece.[18] The Soft Bulletin is considered by some to be partially responsible for establishing the latter-day identity of The Flaming Lips, and as its following expanded over the years after its release, paving the way to their being among the most well-respected groups of the 2000s.

In 2006, Robert Dimery chose The Soft Bulletin and its follow-up Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots as part of his book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[19] Pitchfork ranked the album 3rd on the Top 100 albums of the 1990s list,[20] and awarded it a rare score of 10.0. AllMusic's Jason Ankeny awarded the album 5/5 stars and gave it a highly enthusiastic review, concluding that "there's no telling where The Lips will go from here, but it's almost beside the point -- not just the best album of 1999, The Soft Bulletin might be the best record of the entire decade".[21]

Upon the album's tenth anniversary in May 2009, The Record Review featured the album as a part of its "Ten Years Later" feature, saying that "ten years removed, The Soft Bulletin is still an undeniably essential listen that belongs in every record collection."[22] Since late 2010, the album has been sporadically performed live in its entirety over the years, and on May 26, 2016, an orchestra was used to embellish sounds of the album while the band played their main instruments for the album at the concert.[23]

As of 2002 it has sold 100,000 units in United States according to Nielsen SoundScan. [24]

Track listing[edit]

Upon its release, The Soft Bulletin was subject to record company demands for commercial-sounding music, hence the inclusion of remixes of several songs. In addition, the US ("The Spiderbite Song") and UK ("Slow Motion") CDs each contain one track that the other does not.

US CD release[edit]

All tracks are written by The Flaming Lips.

1."Race for the Prize" (Mokran remix)4:09
2."A Spoonful Weighs a Ton"3:32
3."The Spark That Bled" ("The Softest Bullet Ever Shot")5:55
4."The Spiderbite Song"4:02
5."Buggin'" (Mokran remix)3:16
6."What Is the Light?" ("An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting That the Chemical [In Our Brains] by Which We Are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love Is the Same Chemical That Caused the "Big Bang" That Was the Birth of the Accelerating Universe")4:05
7."The Observer"4:11
8."Waitin' for a Superman" ("Is It Gettin' Heavy?")4:17
9."Suddenly Everything Has Changed" ("Death Anxiety Caused by Moments of Boredom")3:54
10."The Gash" ("Battle Hymn for the Wounded Mathematician")4:02
11."Feeling Yourself Disintegrate"5:17
12."Sleeping on the Roof" (excerpt from "Should We Keep the Severed Head Awake??")3:09
13."Race for the Prize" ("Sacrifice of the New Scientists")4:18
14."Waitin' for a Superman" (Mokran remix)4:19
Total length:58:26

The worldwide digital edition uses the US track listing but switches the versions of "Race for the Prize" (track 1 and 13).[25]

UK and Australian CD release[edit]

1."Race for the Prize"4:18
2."A Spoonful Weighs a Ton"3:32
3."The Spark That Bled"5:55
4."Slow Motion"3:53
5."What Is the Light?"4:05
6."The Observer"4:10
7."Waitin' for a Superman"4:17
8."Suddenly Everything Has Changed"3:54
9."The Gash"4:02
10."Feeling Yourself Disintegrate"5:17
11."Sleeping on the Roof"3:09
12."Race for the Prize" (Mokran remix)4:09
13."Waitin' for a Superman" (Mokran remix)4:19
14."Buggin'" (Mokran remix)3:16

Vinyl release[edit]

Side One
1."Race for the Prize" 
2."A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" 
3."The Spark That Bled" 
4."The Spiderbite Song" 
Side Two
6."What Is the Light?" 
7."The Observer" 
Side Three
8."Waitin' for a Superman" 
9."Suddenly Everything Has Changed" 
10."The Gash" 
Side Four
11."Slow Motion" 
12."Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" 
13."Sleeping on the Roof" 

The Soft Bulletin 5.1[edit]

On January 31, 2006, Warner Bros. re-released The Soft Bulletin in the US as a two-disc package titled The Soft Bulletin 5.1. It includes a remastered CD and a DVD-Audio disc that contains a 5.1-channel surround sound mix of the album.

Package content[edit]

CD and DVD[edit]

  1. "Race for the Prize (Sacrifice of the New Scientists)" – 4:18
  2. "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" – 3:32
  3. "The Spark That Bled (The Softest Bullet Ever Shot)" – 5:55
  4. "Slow Motion" – 3:49
  5. "What Is the Light? (An Untested Hypothesis Suggesting That the Chemical [In Our Brains] By Which We Are Able to Experience the Sensation of Being in Love Is the Same Chemical That Caused the "Big Bang" That Was the Birth of the Accelerating Universe)" – 4:05
  6. "The Observer" – 4:11
  7. "Waitin' for a Superman (Is it Gettin' Heavy??)" – 4:17
  8. "Suddenly Everything Has Changed (Death Anxiety Caused by Moments of Boredom)" – 3:54
  9. "The Gash (Battle Hymn for the Wounded Mathematician)" – 4:02
  10. "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate" – 5:23
  11. "Sleeping on the Roof (Excerpt From "Should We Keep the Severed Head Awake??")" – 3:04
  12. "The Spiderbite Song" – 4:02
  13. "Buggin' (The Buzz of Love Is Busy Buggin' You)" – 3:22

DVD videos[edit]

  1. "Race for the Prize" – 4:26
  2. "Waitin' for a Superman" – 4:39

DVD outtakes[edit]

  1. "1000 Ft. Hands" – 5:50
  2. "The Captain Is a Cold Hearted and Egotistical Fool" – 5:14
  3. "Satellite of You" – 4:32

DVD radio sessions[edit]

  1. "Up Above the Daily Hum" – 4:38
  2. "The Switch That Turns Off the Universe" – 7:54
  3. "We Can't Predict the Future" – 3:04
  4. "It Remained Unrealizable" – 8:34

Notably, the album track list for the 5.1 package is the definitive track list that the band had intended but was unable to release in 1999[citation needed]. A few notes:

  • The 5.1 package has the UK track list with the remixes at the end removed. They were replaced with "The Spiderbite Song" and the original mix of "Buggin'" which had previously only seen release on a US promotional CD.
  • This package marks the first time that US consumers have been able to get "Slow Motion" on CD, as this had previously only been available on the UK CD and the US vinyl releases.

Packaging error[edit]

The first pressings of The Soft Bulletin 5.1 were erroneously shipped with an original US CD instead of the new remastered CD with the revised track list. The band offered to replace the incorrect CD with the new version for anyone who received the wrong CD in their package. In addition, many people who sent their incorrect CDs in for replacement also received a handwritten letter of apology from the band's bassist, Michael Ivins. Warner Bros. has since fixed this problem.[26]


The Flaming Lips


  • The Flaming Lips – production, mix, recording
  • Dave Fridmann – production, mix, recording
  • Michael Ivins – additional engineering
  • Scott Booker – production
  • Steve Hall – mastering (at Future Disc Systems)


  • Peter Mokran – additional production & mix
  • Scott Bennett – additional bass on "Waitin' for a Superman (Remix)"


  • Lawrence Schiller – cover photograph
  • George Salisbury – layout & design


  1. ^ Lemmon, Kyle (October 19, 2010). "The Flaming Lips to Perform 'Soft Bulletin' on New Year's Eve". Under the Radar. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  2. ^ "100 Best Albums of the '90s". Rolling Stone.
  3. ^ "The Flaming Lips official site, Soft Bulletin album notes".[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Mojo Pie Artist of the Week thread, April 17, 2005". Archived from the original on July 2, 2007.
  5. ^ "The Best of 1999/Pop CDs".
  6. ^ Life Staff. "Original article". Life. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  7. ^ "Reviews for The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips". Metacritic. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  8. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "The Soft Bulletin – The Flaming Lips". AllMusic. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  9. ^ Weingarten, Marc (July 9, 1999). "The Soft Bulletin". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  10. ^ Cox, Tom (May 14, 1999). "Mouthwateringly soft". The Guardian.
  11. ^ "The Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin". Melody Maker: 36. May 15, 1999.
  12. ^ Oldham, James (May 6, 1999). "The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  13. ^ Josephes, Jason (July 1, 1999). "The Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on July 11, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  14. ^ Berger, Arion (May 27, 1999). "The Soft Bulletin". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  15. ^ Kot, Greg (2004). "The Flaming Lips". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 300. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  16. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (July 1999). "The Flaming Lips: The Soft Bulletin". Spin. 15 (7). Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (February 1, 2000). "Happy You Near". The Village Voice. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  18. ^ Editorial review of The Soft Bulletin 5.1 on
  19. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  20. ^ Pitchfork staff. "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
  21. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "The Soft Bulletin-The Flaming Lips". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Ten Years Later: The Flaming Lips « The Record Review". 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  23. ^ "The Flaming Lips performing The Soft Bulletin + Dinosaur Jr perform Bug + Deerhoof perform Milk Man - All Tomorrow's Parties". Retrieved 2012-03-10.
  24. ^ Inc, Nielsen Business Media (3 August 2002). "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. – via Google Books.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Dave Fridmann/Tarbox News/Notes".