Let's get the truth out of the way: The Flaming Lips are a little weird.
Anyone who's loved the band has known this for any of the last four decades they've recorded and toured together. The psychedelic, diverse sounds; the surreal lyrics; the wild imagery in videos and in performance - it's all a part of what makes them different. Frontman Wayne Coyne usually makes his way into the audience encased in a plastic bubble. They're easily the only band who could appear on Beverly Hills, 90210 to play a genuine radio hit, then release an album four years later that requires playing it on four CD players at the same time.
But in 2002, after a few years of balancing their esoteric traits with irresistible songwriting, they found themselves riding a new wave with one of their best-known songs: the gorgeous "Do You Realize??"
"Do You Realize??" was a highlight off the Lips' 10th album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Though it might have been planned at one point as a concept album about friend of the band/Japanese rock drummer Yoshimi P-We, it ultimately continued the push-pull of experimentation and melodic and harmonic bliss that led their last album, 1999's The Soft Bulletin, to appear on multiple year-end best-of lists.
But the origins of "Do You Realize??" were less conceptual and more cathartic. Despite the success of The Soft Bulletin, the band was going through a tough time. Coyne was coping with the death of his father, while drummer Steven Drozd was struggling to break an addiction to heroin. Inspired by the struggles of those closest to him and attempting to see the beauty within, Coyne penned a song that simply extolled the virtues of love and its place in the universe.
What happened next surprised critics, fans and the band alike: the song made its way into commercials and movie trailers. It cracked the U.K. Top 40 pop charts. It even got voted (for a time) as the official rock song of Oklahoma, the band's home state. Through it all, Coyne and the band never lost their love for the song, playing it at nearly every gig and remaining very aware of what it means to fans old and new. "A part of you makes it and you don't really think that much of it," Coyne told NME in 2013. "Then someone comes up and says, 'we used that song at my mother's funeral.' You can say it's just a dumb song, or you can say, 'I understand.'"