To salute the Chili Peppers on 30 years of greatness, we look back at our favorite songs.
Red Hot Chili Peppers turned 30 this year. Beginning with its 1984 self-titled album, the Los Angeles band has released 10 studio albums, won seven Grammy Awards, and has had numerous hit singles, including 'Under The Bridge,' 'Scar Tissue,' and 'Dani California.' RHCP are still going strong, too: a new album is in the works, and the band has been making the festival rounds this year, including headlining sets at Outside Lands, Firefly, Coachella and Orion.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers honed its own sound – a bizarrely cosmopolitan combination of hip-hop, funk, rock, punk and pop – by working with top producers such as Parliament-Funkadelic boss George Clinton and Rick Rubin, who produced the band's first commercially successful album, 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' (1991). The band's sound has been largely driven by founding member Flea (considered one of the best bassists of all time), the quasi-rapping and playful lyricism of Anthony Kiedis, and many stellar guitarists, including the late Hillel Slovak, John Frusciante, and Dave Navarro.
With 10 studio albums worth of material – not to mention EPs and numerous singles, such as 'Soul To Squeeze,' from the 'Coneheads' soundtrack – choosing the five best Red Hot Chili Peppers songs was not an easy task. But we did it anyway. Do you agree with our picks?
This was the fourth, and self-titled, single from RHCP's seventh album, 'Californication' (1999). Over a mid-tempo groove and Frusciante's jangling guitar, Kiedis embraced the sunny and dark sides of California, and Hollywood, celebrating both its utopian promises and dangerous, plastic realities. Navigating through unicorns, porn stars, earthquakes, and good vibrations, he survived the dream several years before David Duchovny would star in a Showtime series that borrowed the title.
4. 'Jungle Man'
This is the opening track of 'Freaky Styley' (1985), RHCP's second album, and it is Kiedis' ode to his wild friend and bandmate, Flea. The album, which was produced by funk legend George Clinton, did not enter the Billboard charts, probably because it was just way too strange. This tune, however, shows the band at its most deliriously funkiest, before it would go on to embrace more radio-friendly sounds.
3. 'Fight Like A Brave'
This lead single from the band's third album, 'The Uplift Mofo Party Plan' (1987), showed RHCP realizing maximal rock-funk. The song was about Kiedis's fight against heroin addiction, but the lyrics fit any struggle, whether personal or political or imaginary. There was a massive solo by Hillel Slovak, the band's original guitarist, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988. This song was also featured on Tony Hawk's 'Pro Skater 3' video game.
2. 'Give It Away'
Over-the-top, ridiculously fun pop-funk is what RHCP has always been best at. If you were alive the summer this lead single from the band's fifth album, 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' (1991), dropped, then you know there was no escaping those silver, sparkling bodies dancing around on the song's now-classic music video. Fruiscante's guitar and Flea's bass communicated perfectly as Keidis spat lyrics praising reggae legend Bob Marley and the benefits of altruism.
1. 'Under The Bridge'
This second single from 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' remains the band's defining moment. Unlike the bulk of RHCP's catalogue, which consist of uplift, party-time funk, 'Under The Bridge' is a slow ballad (but it ended with an inspirational, powerful gospel-like singalong). Like many of the band's early songs, Kiedis explored his former drug addiction, and its alienating consequences. The song came from a poem Kiedis wrote, and that producer Rubin found in his notebook. 'Under The Bridge' was a huge commercial hit (it went platinum), and it introduced the band to a whole new audience.