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An Intro To The Red Hot Chili Peppers In 12 Songs

Picture of Mary Pettas
Updated: 15 April 2016
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around for over 30 years and have accumulated seven Grammy awards. The band started up in 1983 and rose to the height of their popularity in the early 90s grunge period. So when they started touring again in earnest a few years ago, longtime fans and new discoverers alike jumped on the chance to see them again, or for the first time. In addition, the band is lined up to put out another album in Spring 2016 – their first in five years. In order to properly prepare the new release, check out some of their most recognizable songs.

Give It Away (1991)

This was the band’s first number one single on the Billboard charts off their fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It’s a swirling inferno of a powerful, almost chanted chorus, a rollercoaster guitar riff, and that signature funky bass line.

Californication (1999)

From the album of the same name, this song is obviously about the dark side of the city of Angels and how the people of Hollywood are often exploited by the entertainment business. This song is very melodic and much more spare on the guitar due to Frusciante’s musical genius that made this song come together.

Under The Bridge (1991)

This was actually written about a bridge in Griffith Park where Kiedis allegedly went in Griffith Park to score heroin. He wrote a song about his encounters there and it quickly became the group’s most popular song ever. It was very out of the ordinary from their original body of work because of its earnest, softer tone and very personal lyrics in which Kiedis felt that Los Angeles had a persona that was his only comfort.

Other side (1999)

At a certain point Kiedis songwriting began to strike increasingly personal topics which not surprisingly only augmented their success. This song the self-destruction involving addiction and drug abuse experienced by both Kiedis and band member Hillel Slovak who died of an overdose.

By The Way (2002)

Another song from the album of the same name, which was the 8th album they put out. It’s hard to explain what this song is about because the majority of it is random words thrown together in a way that’s both ridiculous and pleasing. For example, the lyrics from one verse are ‘Steak knife/ Card shark/ Con job/ Boot cut’…

Can’t Stop (2002)

This is another song in the classic Chili Peppers rapping style with short, staccato verses. It is the best of their funky, energetic sound that gives off a distinct air of youthful invincibility.

Suck My Kiss (1991)

The title and lyrics represent the common themes of hypersexuality present in many of Kiedis’ writing. However, mostly this is another song with alot of funky attitude and groovy, driving bass line that made it so popular.

Breaking The Girl (1991)

Featuring an instrumental break in which , this song was both an experiment and a typical love song as its about Kiedis’ breakup with his longtime girlfriend, Carmen Hawk. It featured the best of the Pepper’s melodic abilities coupled with the sometimes pained tone of Kiedis’ incredible rock voice.

Dani California (2006)

This one was a chart topper and a Grammy winner, released in 2006 on iTunes. Interestingly, the name of a woman, ‘Dani’ is present in the lyrics of previous RHCP songs as are the themes of idyllic California actually being a harsh way to lead a life. Kiedis stated that ‘Dani’ is a character he didn’t realize he had made up of all the women he knew and loved.

Around The World (1999)

A truly amazing trait about all RHCP songs is how they manage to make punk rock so atypically catchy. They return to the rap style of verses alternated with the melodic singing in the choruses that earned them so much respect. Kiedis’ wrote this song about his lifestyle as a rock and roll star, and Frusciante and Flea’s composition give it all that jazz.

Soul To Squeeze (1991)

This majorly popular song actually didn’t make it on the album that is was originally recorded for, which was Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Instead, it was released later as a single in 1993 and quickly became an unexpected hit.

Scar Tissue (1999)

From Kiedis’ personal diary where he wrote lyrics, he never intended this one to actually become a song until his manager saw it and convinced him to show it to the rest of the band. It was so personal in fact that Kiedis’ titled his autobiography after it, and the rest is history.