Some of the so-called rock moments from last night’s Billboard Music Awards were ones I could have lived without, but late in the show came a performance that was worth the wait. Miley Cyrus joined Wayne Coyne in Manchester, England, backed by the rest of The Flaming Lips, with a woozy, crashing cover of The Beatles’ acid-lovin’ chestnut “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” It’s a collaboration we knew had happened on record — part of an upcoming Sgt. Pepper's cover album from the Lips called With A Little Help From My Fwends — and live, on select dates of Miley’s Bangerz tour. But, seeing the new BFFs, a trans-generational pair of like-minded hippie-dippie provocateurs, doing it on this mostly well-scrubbed broadcast was something else.
Clad in matching fringy metallic numbers, the duo performed a heavier but mostly faithful take on the classic. Cyrus wore a gold tinsel jacket, and Coyne accompanied her in a shorter silver version, orange body suit, and a matching sparkly codpiece. Only a few weeks ago, the young pop star was laid up in a Kansas City hospital with a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics, an ailment that forced the postponement of a bunch of U.S. dates and a couple in Europe. But, last night she seemed well recovered — she sounded strong with just enough rasp. If you’ve seen the Bangerz tour, you know that never has an arena pop show lent itself more to lyrics about “tangerine trees,” “marmalade skies,” and “cellophane flowers of yellow and green.” You could picture that famous tongue of hers with a tab of Lucy on it, if not Molly.
Freaky Uncle Wayne too showed no signs of his recent falling out with fired drummer Kliph Scurlock, who accused Koyne in effect of condoning racism. He acted the bohemian hype man and banged a cymbal for all he was worth. (Note: Scurlock has since clarified his statement.) There were streamers and shiny confetti, and it was all the kind of fucked-up magic these two deliver in spades, and that you don’t get a lot of at the BBMAs.