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10 Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs You Can Listen to That Won’t Make You an Embarrassment to Your Entire Family

Okay, so we know that The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a bit of a touchy subject around here, but they’ve dominated the airwaves for almost 40 years, and we’re gonna have to talk about them. Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving through Chinatown, and you’re blasting RHCP, and you get to that “ding, dang, dong, dong, ding, ding, dong, dong, ding, dang” part. But to your horror, nobody is really vibing with you like you thought they would.

In fact, you may have actually just committed a hate crime.

That’s the purpose of this list; to clue you in to 10 great Red Hot Chili Peppers songs that you could proudly listen to with the windows down. And there are so many great songs to choose from. But for the sake of brevity, and not looking like total fucking nerds, we’ll leave you with 10.

“This is the Place”

Though “This is the Place” is one of their more somber songs, it’s masterfully crafted. John Frusciante was truly at his creative peak when “By the Way” came out, and it’s evident when you throw in a pair of headphones and take in all of the layered vocal harmonies.

And though Flea is known for his rapid slapping and popping technique, his bass line on this tune is simplistic, circular, repetitive, and complemented perfectly by Chad Smith’s deep pocket groove. Lyrically, the song is about addiction and loss, and Anthony Kiedis actually sings in key too! Though we’re not quite sure what he means by kissing our dopamine, we’re okay with it because it fits the rhyme scheme.


“Walk About” is one of the funkier songs from the “One Hot Minute” era, and boy does it groove. Featuring prominent wah-wah fuckery from the Ink Master himself, it’s worth noting that although the “One Hot Minute” era of RHCP isn’t necessarily the most popular, there are some hidden gems for sure; “Walk About” being one of them.

You can strut to this one all afternoon, and people will only think you’re a little weird.

“If You Want Me To Stay”

RHCP’s “Freakey Styley” was once dubbed “too funky for white radio, and too punk for black radio.” But for many of us, their cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “If You Want Me To Stay” was our gateway to funk with actual decent vocals.

While it’s worth noting that “Freakey Styley” also has a blistering funk cover of Dr. Seuss’ “Yertle the Turtle” that’s worth listening to, there’s something special about Flea’s walking staccato bass line, Jack Iron’s straight chopping away at the drums, Hillel Slovak’s tasteful chord placement, and Anthony Keidis’s whatever the fuck he’s doing on “If You Want Me To Stay.”

“Look Around”

When John Frusciante quit the band (again) in 2009, we were left wondering if RHCP would ever bounce back. And they did, when Frusciante rejoined the band (again) in 2019. But the two albums that came out during his absence aren’t so bad. While many wouldn’t consider “I’m With You” or “The Getaway” to be two of their more memorable albums, the playing is solid, and that signature bombastic RHCP energy still pulses through our speakers when we can’t find their other albums.

“Look Around” is one of the perfect songs on “I’m With You.” Flea and Chad lock in with a groove that’s tighter than a vice grip at a cock and ball torture party, there’s a cool clap track on the turnarounds in the chorus, and Josh “not Frusciante” Klinghoffer does that funky strumming that we love so much. But the most groundbreaking part about this song is that Anthony Kiedis mentions Fayetteville, which isn’t even in California.

“Special Secret Song Inside”

Okay, so maybe this one isn’t great to listen to when you drive through a school zone, but in the right setting, people will dig it. After all, lyrics like “I wanna party on your pussy, baby” leave very little room for ambiguity. If you find yourself a nice gal who appreciates it when you’re a bit forward, then you might be able to crush some beers, and then crush some puss to a blistering pentatonic groove if you play your cards right.

“Coffee Shop”

This song has two bass solos, and they’re not even obnoxious. We’re telling you, “One Hot Minute” shouldn’t be considered a skid-mark on RHCP’s legacy like many diehard fans say it is. Though Dave Navarro occupies most of his time these days dangling from meat hooks and cashing checks from Taco Bell, he used to play guitar and do heroin, and he did both of these things professionally in 1995.

“Coffee Shop” is one of few RHCP songs that has a straight-up riff, and we’re pretty sure “One Hot Minute” is the only album in their catalog that fully utilizes humbucking guitars. “Coffee Shop” is crunchy. It’s funky. Flea damn near rips the frets off his bass. And there’s this really cool backup vocal sound that reminds us of Charlie Brown’s teacher, which is pretty cool too.

“Righteous and the Wicked”

This is the first song on the list from “Blood Sugar Sex Magic,” and we picked it because of Flea’s groove. Aside from “Funky Monks,” “Righteous and the Wicked” is the only other RHCP song we know of that utilizes a 5 string bass. And we wish there were more tunes like this. You can feel that low B string rumble through your soul, and it’s truly an ironclad groove.

And when Anthony Kiedis says “yes, I think we’re fucked, but I can’t rest in war,” you know the chorus is going to come in hot.

This is also one of few songs where the band modulates a circular riff through several key changes in the bridge before resolving back to the original established verse groove. It’s hard to believe that this song was written by the same band that put out “Behind the Sun.”


On the surface, “Readymade” is just RHCP trying to sound like a classic rock band. And if you dive a little deeper, this song is just RHCP trying to sound like a classic rock band. But hey, you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. The fact of the matter is that this song is just a great wheel. It’s the kind of wheel that will take you to pick your dad up at the bar after the staff took his keys and called you, and then when he turns your car radio up he’ll tell you that this song reminds him of Led Zep, and how he never wanted to work in Pharmaceuticals, but with 4 kids and a mortgage what choice did he have?

Frusciante’s guitar solo fucking rips too.

“Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky”

1989’s “Mother’s Milk” concludes with “Johnny Kick a Hole in the Sky.” Lyrically, it’s some of Kiedis’ best work, and highlights the plight his Native American ancestors experienced at the behest of the white man. And how do you get your point across about the grave injustices inflicted upon your people? You fucking jam. That’s exactly what this song does.

It was also the album that solidified the “classic” RHCP lineup that still stands to this day (until Frusciante quits again), and it’s for good reason. The band is simply always at the top of their game when Anthony, Flea, Chad, and John are working together, and “Mother’s Milk” was the album that gave us this proof of concept.

“Breaking the Girl”

We had to throw a ballad on this list, so here it is. “Breaking the Girl” is pretty. It’s devastating. There’s this really cool groove in the bridge section when they’re all just smashing on scrap from the junkyard. And rumor has it, you can even hear Rick Rubin’s beard rustling ever so tenderly on the mixing console during one of his several naps while they were recording this song. While it’s well documented that “I Could Have Lied,” which is also off “Blood Sugar Sex Magic,” was written for Sinead O’Connor, Wikipedia says that “Breaking the Girl” is about some chick named Carmen. But the jury’s still out on whether her last name is San Diego.