10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs
It’s been a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and we’re attempting to count down the 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs. To help narrow things down, we’re keeping it to original tracks, which knocks out their splendid covers of ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Love Rollercoaster,’ but there’s still so many other great songs to choose from. From their early days as a college rock/party band through their present day reign as chart-topping hitmakers, singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist extraordinaire Flea have kept the band’s spirit lively and sound extra funky. They’ve been joined on their mission by guitarists Hillel Slovak, Jack Sherman, DeWayne McKnight, John Frusciante, Arik Marshall, Jesse Tobias, Dave Navarro, and Josh Klinghoffer and drummers Jack Irons, Cliff Martinez, D.H. Peligro, and Chad Smith, and have rarely missed a step. So let’s take you to the songs you love, take you all the way, and count down the 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs:
‘Suck My Kiss’
Red Hot Chili Peppers may have gotten more commercial around the ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ era, but ‘Suck My Kiss’ still had the energy and ferocity of some of their early albums. The track is driven by Flea’s ferocious bass playing, while Anthony Kiedis delivers overly-amorous lyrics about his partner’s obvious sexiness.
‘Brendan’s Death Song’
‘Brendan’s Death Song’ is a new tune, but it makes our 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs as an example of a band connecting as one, letting their emotions from a traumatic experience flow simultaneously in perfect harmony. The group penned the track for late Los Angeles club owner and close friend Brendan Mullen, who gave the band their first break. Anthony Kiedis said the song was instantaneous after he delivered the news to his bandmates, and his voice, in particular, reaches emotional levels not heard prior on the band’s records.
The title track from Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Californication’ album definitely shows the band’s dance-with-the-dark side of life in Hollywood. The group delves into the superficial nature of modern society, with references like “Space may be the final frontier / But it’s made in a Hollywood basement” and “Pay your surgeon very well to break the spell of aging” lamenting an increasingly plastic world. The song would reach No. 1 on both the Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock Tracks charts.
‘Knock Me Down’
Still reeling from the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak, Red Hot Chili Peppers found themselves in the midst of a band shakeup, with Chad Smith and John Frusciante eventually coming on board. Anthony Kiedis was also coming out of rehab and wrote this song about his withdrawal and realizing that if Slovak could die, he too was invincible.
The character of Dani California was first conjured up by Anthony Kiedis in 1999’s ‘Californication’ and continued her journey in the 2002 single ‘By the Way,’ but with 2006’s ‘Stadium Arcadium,’ the singer used the character as a representation of many women he knew in his life and built a full song around her. The video featured the band representing the different eras and genres of music that influenced their style. The group would win Grammy awards for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for the track.
‘Breaking the Girl’
‘Breaking the Girl’ found singer Anthony Kiedis dipping into his personal life for material. The singer revealed in his ‘Scar Tissue’ autobiography that the song was about the turbulent relationship with his ex-girlfriend, and also his father’s relationship with women. The track is driven by Chad Smith’s percussive instrumentation, and Flea’s initially hypnotic and later aggressive bass playing.
‘By the Way’
‘By the Way’ earns its spot among the 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks for its ability to show the band’s strengths. The John Frusciante guitar line demonstrates a melody-driven style, while Chad Smith and Flea deliver a full-on audio assault on drums and bass. Singer Anthony Kiedis told Kerrang of the song, “I thought that single was an über-bombastic assault of non-commercialism.” The track is No. 8 on Loudwire’s Top 21st Century Hard Rock Songs list.
‘Give It Away’
If ever there were a guitar lick and drum beat that told you exactly what band it was, ‘Give It Away’ is that song for Red Hot Chili Peppers. While the lyrics may seem nonsensical, the group revealed on VH1’s ‘Behind the Music’ that the track comes form the idea that the more that you give, the more you receive, so why not give it all away. Kiedis would later say that his girlfriend at the time, Nina Hagen, inspired the lyrics, after she gave him a jacket he liked from her closet.
‘Scar Tissue’ is a must for the 10 Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs. The cut would serve as the band’s first single marking the return of guitarist John Frusciante to the lineup after dealing with the substance abuse issues. The track itself featured themes of life and resurrection, which reflected not only Frusciante’s return but other band members’ abilities to emerge from their past demons as well. The moniker would also serve as the title for Anthony Kiedis’ future biography.
‘Under the Bridge’
The song that catapulted the band to superstardom was also one in which Anthony Kiedis laid his soul bare for all to see. The track was about the singer’s heroin addiction and his own isolation the deeper he got into the drug. The lyrics initially were part of a poem, and producer Rick Rubin reportedly convinced the singer to explore them as a song. The track also featured a wide style shift, from the somber opening guitar chords through the mid-tempo drum beats up to the climactic finale.