Ten of the best – Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Red Hot Chili Peppers recently announced a huge arena tour this December, in support of their new album The Getaway. What better way to celebrate than compiling 10 of our favourite Chili’s songs.
Scouring through their back catalogue – over 30 years of music, including 11 studio albums, numerous EP’s and plenty of soundtrack singles and b-sides – is a mammoth task, but choosing just 10 of our favourite songs at the end of it is something else entirely. It’s nothing new of course, as the band have been around forever, but we’re going to give it a whirl anyway.
A notable mention goes to 2016’s Go Robot, the band’s funky second single from The Getaway. The accompanying video – which channels Saturday Night Fever and, according to a press release, used the same filming locations – is both surreal and frankly a bit insane. The narrative follows Kiedis – whose wearing a few layers of white body paint, a codpiece and a bowler hat, and not a lot else – around New York City as he gets pizza and sneaks into a 70’s disco. Finally, after busting out some moves, he meets his similarly painted soulmate. Ahh, love.
Red hot top ten
10. Don’t Forget Me
Beautifully haunting, Don’t Forget Me is written from the perspective of an addiction demon, and highlights an intense dislike for drugs and their adverse effects. Appearing as the fifth track on 2002’s By The Way, Kiedis tells a tale of rehab, recovery and living with a taunting habit long after its been kicked.
Watch the track performed at Slane Castle back in 2003:
Making its live comeback for the first time since the 90’s in 2016, Aeroplane is considered one of the more upbeat tracks on 1995’s One Hot Minute, despite its lyrical content. Following the departure of John Frusciante in 1992, and frontman Anthony Kiedis’ drug relapse in ’94, the addition of Jane’s Addiction axe-man Dave Navarro to the Red Hot Chili Peppers resulted in a much heavier album and songs exploring much darker topics including depression, grief, anguish and drug use.
8. Dani California
Dani California lyrically narrates the story of a young girl who moves to California from the South. It starts with her birth, and ultimately ends with her death, by ‘a man gunnin’ from North Dakota‘. First appearing in 1999’s Californication, although not by name, Dani later resurfaces as ‘Dani the Girl’ in the chorus of 2002’s By The Way. Kiedis has commented that the character of Dani is a composite of all the women he has had relationships with. The song also won the band two Grammy awards.
When this funky groove came up it struck me as a perfect place to actually tell a story. It sort of revealed itself to me that it’s been the same character, just kind of developing. At first I didn’t realize that I was writing about the same girl. – Anthony Kiedis
The track’s build up and super catchy opening riff, followed by short, rapped verses is reminiscent of the band’s early records. Combined with a more melodic guitar, Can’t Stop is both unique and progressive, and has a video to mirror such. Inspired by Austrian artist Erwin Wurm, the band experiment with unusual concepts and take part in increasingly weird and abstract routines. Check it out below:
6. Suck My Kiss
Suck My Kiss off 1991’s Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik is one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ funkier tunes, detailing the lust of a man who is SO in love with his partner that he would do anything for her. Like most of their early releases, it references overtly sexual themes which Kiedis later told Rolling Stone magazine ‘were meant positively rather than crudely’.
The title track of the band’s most commercially successful album takes us on a journey rife with cultural references. From Kurt Cobain and the Beach Boys to Star Wars, Moon landing conspiracies and pornography, Californication explores the darker side of Hollywood. It has since become one of Red Hot Chili Pepper’s most popular live songs and a celebrated crowd favourite. The computer game themed video is also pretty cool.
4. Scar Tissue
…It was a playful, happy-to-be-alive, phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes vibe. – Anthony Kiedis
The introduction of Kiedis’ peroxide hair-do, the 1967 Pontiac Catalina convertible, the broken instruments, the band – aside from Frusciante – looking worse for wear, bloodied and battered are all the things that make this video, and song so memorable. Symbolising John’s return to the band in 1999 – following his aforementioned original departure in 1992 – he is in the driving seat. The irony being that he can’t actually drive. Directed by Stéphane Sednaoui, who also did videos for Give It Away and Around the World, Scar Tissue shy’s away from the heavier, psychedelic themes of One Hot Minute and dry funk of Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik in favour of a more mellow, and perhaps commercial sound.
Another dark tune from the Chili’s. The song follows the drug struggle of former member Hillel Slovak – who died of a heroin overdose in 1988. The song is sang by Kiedis, but from Slovak’s perspective with a video inspired by Gothic themes and German expressionism.
2. Give It Away
Revisiting 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik again, and director Stéphane Sednaoui, Give It Away features a classic funk-riff and elaborate bass line we’ve come to expect from early Red Hot Chili Peppers. As well as all the usual themes of lust and sex, Give It Away also explores the values of selflessness and humanitarian behaviour. The video is shot in black and white and features the band dancing in the desert, in outlandish outfits, coated in silver body paint.
1. Under the Bridge
No Surprise here really, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic and overwhelming crowd favourite Under the Bridge is our number one. The ballad that skyrocketed the band to commercial success when released – and in turn contributed to John Frusciante leaving in 1992. It’s timeless sing-along lyrics have given it an almost immortal hit status, even 25 years on. The song’s stark contrast to the bands more favoured topics, poignantly explores Kiedis’ love for LA at a time when the front man felt emotionally drained and lonely following a spell of sobriety, which he felt distanced him from his band mates.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Tour Dates
Kiedis and co are heading to Europe this December, find tickets to all Red Hot Chili Peppers dates on Seatwave.
- The O2, London (5, 6)
- SSE Hydro, Glasgow (8)
- Genting Arena, Birmingham (10, 11)
- Manchester Arena, Manchester (14, 15)
- The O2, London (18)
- 3Arena, Dublin (20, 21)