“Race for the Prize” by The Flaming Lips

This song idealizes the pursuit of scientists, specifically those who endeavor to find cures to dangerous diseases.  The lyrics were inspired by the band’s frontman, Wayne Coyne’s, father passing away as a result of cancer shortly before the track came out. Thus the titular “race for the prize” is equivalent to the expeditious pursuit for a cure to cancer.  And in explaining the song, Coyne idealized scientists more so than artists, as in former case their work is literally life-or-death.  And in Race for the Prize he and his bandmates detail “the pressure” such professionals endure, basically sacrificing their personal and family lives for the betterment of mankind.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Flaming Lips's Race for the Prize at Lyrics.org.

Facts about “Race for the Prize”

The official subtitle of this song is “Sacrifice of the New Scientists”.

This track was officially released, by Warner Bros. Records, on 17 May 1999. And it is the lead single from The Flaming Lips’ album entitled The Soft Bulletin. Chart-wise it proved to be the most-successful single from the project, breaking the top 40 of the UK Singles Chart. It has also been heralded by Pitchfork Media as of the Top 200 Tracks of the 90s. And it is also a favorite of the band itself, specifically when it comes to them rendering live performances.

The writers of this song are the following members of The Flaming Lips:

  • Michael Ivins
  • Steven Drozd
  • Wayne Coyne

Coyne also served as one of the directors of this track’s music video, with the other being Bradley Beesley. And said clip featured two of Coyne’s brothers as well as his nephew.

The Flaming Lips are actually a band from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which is also home to an NBA team, the OKC Thunder.  In 2012 the Thunder experienced their most-impressive postseason in the franchise’s early history. And to honor and inspire them, The Flaming Lips put forth a new version of this track entitled “Thunder Up! Racing for the Prize”.

The Flaming Lips made headlines in January 2021 when they performed this song (and others) in a couple of special live performances. And what made these events unique is that both the band and audience members were inside what has been described as “space bubbles”. These are basically individualized plastic cocoons which people stand in the name of adhering to social-distancing rules and combating the coronavirus. And it wasn’t the first time The Flaming Lips had pulled off such a performance. They actually first did so on the 10 June 2020 edition of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.


There is an additional version of this song on The Soft Bulletin which is called the Mokran remix. Meanwhile the standard issue of the tune was produced by The Flaming Lips alongside Dave Fridmann and Scott Booker.

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