That stunned silence you’re hearing from across the pond might just be the sound of British pop fans’ speechless reaction after turning on their televisions and seeing Justin Timberlake jamming with the Flaming Lips.
In another sign of their “anything goes” spirit, the Oklahoma psychedelic rockers invited the ‘NSYNC heartthrob to sit in on bass with them during a “Top of the Pops” performance of the title track from their recent album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
The segment, taped Thursday afternoon and slated to run Friday evening (January 24) in England, came about when Timberlake and Lips leader Wayne Coyne met on Wednesday, when both were at Radio One in London for separate interviews, according to Arlene Moon, a Jive Records U.K. television promotions staffer.
“It was a chance meeting and they got on really well and they asked Justin to join them onstage. Justin is a big fan of theirs,” she said.
The Lips gave Timberlake a copy of their track to study, and, before he took the stage for rehearsals on Thursday, they also gave him a dolphin suit to wear; the Lips’ current stage show frequently involves two dozen audience members dressed as plushie animals. Timberlake was game, keeping the dolphin head on until the taping, then taking it off to the delight of the audience. “It was really quite funny,” Moon said. “He had an absolute blast. He likes to do things people don’t expect.” As for Justin’s heretofore-untapped prowess on the bass guitar, Moon said only, he plays “a little.”
It’s not the first time the Lips have convinced another star to don a plushie during their shows. At KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas show in December, Craig Nicholls and Ryan Griffiths of the Vines danced onstage in costume with the Lips and Beck during a rendition of the 1985 Christmas charity song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
The Lips are used to strange bedfellows and odd collaborations. They recently wrapped a world tour with Beck, during which they served as his backup band. In April 2002 they collaborated with ex-“Blue’s Clues” host-turned-rocker Steve Burns on his debut LP and in October jammed on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” with Beck and actor Ted Danson, who played the triangle. In 1994 the band guest-starred on “Beverly Hills 90210” playing the Peach Pit After Dark. Coyne is in the midst of finishing up his first feature film, “Christmas on Mars,” which he hopes will include a cameo from Frodo himself, Elijah Wood.