Red Hot Chili Peppers: A red hot rundown of our favourite tracks

Red Hot Chili Peppers (Maya Sarin)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (Maya Sarin)

North London is famously divided between red and blue, but in a rare occasion, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be playing host to an all-red celebration, as the Red Hot Chili Peppers prepare for their headline show on July 21.

The California rockers have just two stops scheduled in the UK this year on their 2023 world tour schedule, with Anthony Kiedis and co then headed to Glasgow on July 23 for their remaining show.

The band have shifted a whopping 120 million records sold worldwide since forming in 1982; a total that puts them between Adele (142.5 million) and Fleetwood Mac (95.9 million) in the rundown of the best-selling artists of all time. As you might expect, their London show is a hot ticket, with low availability remaining for the upcoming stadium show.

Naturally, the group have plenty to pick from with a back catalogue stretching back all the way to their self-titled debut album in 1984, an abundance of songs mentioning their home state of California, and indie-rock classics like Under the Bridge, Can’t Stop, and Scar Tissue up their sleeves.

Whether you were lucky enough to snag a ticket, or you’d just like to take a trip down memory lane, here is our Red Hot rundown of the band’s greatest tracks.

10) I Could Die for You

Taken from their 2002 album By The Way, I Could Die for You was never officially released as a single, but has become a staple favourite among the group’s loyal fanbase. The underrated track was one of the few love songs that Kiedis wrote on the album, featuring smooth, melodic basslines and catchy chords, as well as the added bonus of guitarist John Frusciante on backing vocals, making for a sublime listen.

9) Snow (Hey Oh)

Now one of the bands signature tracks, featuring one of Frusciante’s most famous guitar riffs, Snow (Hey Oh) is the third single from their ninth studio album Stadium Arcadium; and true to that record’s name, the track feels tailor-made for a stadium-sized singalong. Should it feature on the group’s setlist, fans can expect to hear chats of “Hey Oh!” ringing through Tottenham Stadium long after the show winds down.

8) Otherside

The third single from 1999 album Californication, Otherside’s lyrics are somewhat cryptic, but explore both mortality and substance addiction; heroin is depicted in the song as a seductive “scarlet starlet” while the song steadily gathers in pace and urgency as it asks “how long, how long will I slide?” As well as likely being informed by Kiedis’ own experiences, some fans have also wondered if its dark themes are linked to the tragic death of late band member Hillel Slovak, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988. The raw track is one of the groups top ten most performed songs.

7) By The Way

The title track from the band’s 2002 album, By The Way starts out as a tender song about falling in love beneath the warm glow of a sold-out venue’s marquee sign, but quickly builds into frantic, funk-bass laden chaos. “Black jack! Dope dick!” exclaims Kiedis, “Pawn shop! Quick pick!” The band have performed the track over 600 times live, and it’s very likely to be featured in their upcoming setlist.

6) Give It Away

Give It Away is one of the groups harder rock tracks, taken from their iconic 1991 album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. The song is arguably a highlight from bassist Flea , with his funky bass chords providing a standout element to this track about the trappings of greed and giving yourself to selflessness. “Unimpressed by material excess/Love is free, love me say hell yes!” A bit of a slow-builder, it rode the wave of Under the Bridge to become another massive hit, and picked up the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1993.

5) Californication

It’s no secret that Red Hot Chili Peppers have a close relationship with the state of California – they literally formed in Los Angeles, and love harping on about their hometown in virtually every song. The title track from their 2000 album explores the darker side of Hollywood, referencing everything from plastic surgery to pornography. One of their most popular songs, it’s one of two of the group’s songs to surpass one billion streams on Spotify.

4) Dani California

The fall from grace of a bank robber on the run, Dani California references the early death of a southern girl called Dani, who fails to adapt to the unsettled, fast-paced life that comes with moving to California. A fictional character created by the band, Dani pops up multiple times in their back catalogue (she’s also in By The Way). Though the track had a largely American steer, the funk-rock banger was also a smash hit in the UK, held off the top spot by Gnarls Barkley’s chart-topper Crazy in 2006. Frusciante’s drawn-out, squalling guitar solo is a particularly epic moment of the song, which bagged two Grammys.

3) Scar Tissue

A relatively mellow cut, Scar Tissue is a well-established fan-favourite, taken from their 1999 album Californication. The lead single departs from the high-energy rap styled delivery of their earlier material, and marked an introduction into the more melodic rock sound the group would embrace more and more. Though its soaring sonics initially hint at a straightforward love song, the lonely view Kiedis basks in is likely to be a metaphor for addiction and recovery, and wanting to be seen clearly and honestly: the “scar tissue that I wish you saw”.

2) Can’t Stop

Narrowly missing out on the top spot, Can’t Stop is taken from 2002’s By The Way. Underpinned by Frusciante’s warm, barbershop vocals, Kiedis’ verses clearly driven by the influence of rap, the strange mix of punk and funk grapples with the idea of artistic legacy: “Go write your message on the pavement,” he urges, “Burn so bright, I wonder what the wave meant”. Pairing serious existential wobble with occasional touches of complete lyrical nonsense - with a massive air-guitar worthy solo to boot - it’s up there with the best.

1) Under The Bridge

Honestly, could this list end with any other track but Under The Bridge? A highlight from 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, it’s something of a masterpiece in anthemic indie-rock, with Kiedis’ songwriting tapping into a stroke of genius. The singer wrote the song about the peak of his drug addiction, revealing his feelings of loneliness and depression, as well as the hold drugs had on his life and relationships. Though deeply personal and dark reflections are explored in the track, it’s jarringly contrasted with upbeat, funky melodies and basslines, harnessing some of the calmness he was yearning at the time. No wonder Under The Bridge is also the band’s most successful song.