Top 10 Countdown: Best Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs
California-born Red Hot Chili Peppers will forever go down as not only one of the best bands to fuse various styles, but for the sheer enormity of their success. They first started out in the early eighties and achieved attention and then stardom relatively quickly, and even in 2013 their concerts still sell out. They’ve had ups (stellar live jam sessions) and downs (their recent I’m With You album) but will always be listed as a rock super group. Since it’s summer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a great band to hear on a hot day, let’s count down the top ten best songs this band has released.
10. Snow (Hey Oh) – Stadium Arcadium
Stadium Arcadium was a noticeably slower paced album than previous works, and although Snow wasn’t a rocker by any standards, it injected some much needed zest into the album. It’s bouncy and fun, with some nice rhythmic vocals from Anthony Kiedis. And the pleasant sounding guitar riff is much harder than it sounds. Look up a tab of it and you’ll see.
9. By the Way – By the Way
With an opening riff so memorable one can pinpoint it within two seconds, By the Way is a must for any Red Hot Chili Peppers list. Although it doesn’t have emotion or elaborate instrumentation as the others on this list, it’s catchy, has a great bass line, and manages to fulfill all pop music requirements yet still gets you to bang your head to it.
8. My Friends – One Hot Minute
Red Hot Chili Peppers touch gold every time they go acoustic, and My Friends is no exception. With some startling and melancholy lyrics, along with simple yet fantastic guitar riffs, this is one of the few slow paced acoustic ballads out there that don’t feel cheap or contrived, but truly moving.
7. Can’t Stop – By the Way
Kiedis loves to rap, and for his fun, often nonsensical rapping you need the right beats and riffs to match it. Luckily, he had Flea and John Frusciante, who lay down an infectious riff that almost every musician, upon hearing it, quickly hit the internet and tried to learn. This is a must-hear for any music lover.
6. Pretty Little Ditty – Mother’s Milk
Most people don’t know this album nor heard this song. Mother’s Milk was an early 90’s album that helped Red Hot Chili Peppers break into the limelight and although their singles like Taste the Pain and their cover Higher Ground hit the air, yet Pretty Little Ditty is a breathtakingly beautiful song. Completely instrumental, it is split up into small sections where John and Flea’s detailed riffs flow in and out of each other, much like a dance, and by the end the whole thing escalates into a big, horn-blasting, drum-pounding crescendo. It’s worth noting that one five-second part of this song was sampled and looped to create the hit single Butterfly by Crazy Town.
5. Aeroplane – One Hot Minute
Do you play bass? If so, listen to this song because Flea’s slap bass on this track is nothing short of masterful. Do you not play bass? That’s ok, listen to it anyway. Slap bass, funky guitar, catchy beat and a ripping solo at the end, Aeroplane is one of the best summer party songs out there. This song is like a bowl full of punch.
4. Breaking the Girl – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Like Pretty Little Ditty, this song is mostly unknown outside of hardcore Peppers fans, which is a shame because it’s their best acoustic track. This song is proof that acoustic songs can be loud, creative, and experimental, as John hits the chords so hard you feel like the guitar is going to break, and two-thirds through the song the music breaks down to a rhythmic bridge featuring, no joke, percussion instruments taken from a garbage heap. The best thing about it is that bad ass bridge.
3. Under the Bridge – Blood Sugar Sex Majik
No, it’s not number one, despite what every list online will tell you. But it is a damn good song, featuring Kiedis’ most emotional and personal lyrics to date, a soulful and especially elaborate guitar track, and an epic, choir-filled climax. For those unfortunate enough to be caught in a crippling drug addiction, this is your anthem. And you’re lucky, because it’s a great track.
2. Scar Tissue – Californication
This song is a big reason why Californication, as well as the Peppers as a group, are ideal for the summer. There a few bands that can alternatively soothe you and pump you up, and Scar Tissue is the absolutely perfect soft, soulful, road-trip-with-the-top-down-and-the-breeze-on-your-face summer song. The guitar and bass are pleasantly bouncy and the solos gradually become more intense until it finishes the song with a minimalistic yet fully satisfying finale. It’s hard to imagine a bit rock song for a scenic drive than this one.
1. Around the World – Californication
Most people, even diehard RHCP fans, will disagree with this one, but Around the World makes the list because while it lacks the heart of songs like Under the Bridge, it is a poster child of what makes the band great. The Peppers got famous through their combination of various styles, notably punk rock and funk, and Around the World is not only their best fusion of their styles ever, but it just does such a good job of rocking our faces off. I mentioned above how Aeroplane is like a bowl full of punch at a summer party. Around the World is like that same punchbowl spiked with cocaine and absinthe. The energy never stops, even as it moves from verse to chorus, it simply changes rhythm and style. The verse is all funk bass and a hard-to-master guitar melody, the chorus is catchy rock, and the intro and climax are hard, blood-pumping punk rock, with frenetic instruments and Kiedis howling into the microphone. It’s the wildest and most consistently entertaining and impressive song the Red Hot Chili Peppers have composed. It stands as a symbol why this band is so famous, so loved, and why such praise is deserved. For that, it takes the top spot.