Give It Away
Arguably the band's biggest hit, found on the band's arguably biggest album, 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, "Give It Away" was initially met with a lukewarm reception by radio stations. Since winning a Grammy in 1993 the song has become a mainstay in concert with more than 500 performances. The iconic video for the tune was shot over two days, with the band members painting themselves in silver and improvising before French director, Stephane Sednaoui's lens. The video was embraced by MTV, garnering two "Moonmen" at the 1992 edition of the music channel's Video Music Awards.
Also the title of lead singer Anthony Kiedis' autobiography, "Scar Tissue" is a mellower, soothing number, far different than some of the band's earlier material. Highlighted by a sweet John Frusciante lick (the guitarist having returned to the group for a second spell), the single topped the Billboard charts and became another staple in the band's live sets. The hit also references former band mate and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro as "Sarcastic Mr. Know-it-all" in its lyrics. In an instance of art mirroring reality, the video shows the band battered and bruised but still chugging down the road. RHCP Scar Tissue.jpg
One of the band's bigger hits almost never came to pass. Singer Anthony Kiedis had the lyrics but melding those with the music proved an ordeal. It took guitarist John Frusciante to marry the two. Name-dropping the late Kurt Cobain and one of David Bowie's landmark albums (Station To Station), "Californication" shows how showy and superficial Hollywood can sometimes be. The video has each member as a video game character with Kiedis avoiding sharks in the ocean and drummer Chad Smith snowboarding along the Golden Gate Bridge.
Under The Bridge
It's strange for a great song to end up causing a rift in a rock group, but "Under The Bridge" set in motion the eventual first departure of guitarist, John Frusciante. Preferring to stay under the musical radar and not break into the mainstream, Frusciante left to be replaced by Dave Navarro. The hit single centers on Kiedis' burgeoning drug addiction with Los Angeles acting as the backdrop to a video -- directed by Gus Van Sant -- that sees Kiedis stroll the city's streets singing to strangers and running in slow-motion with his shirt off.
This Stevie Wonder song has been covered by Ike and Tina Turner and gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama, but the Peppers have made this song their own. Almost as funky as the original but with far more guitar and edge, "Higher Ground" earned the band an MTV Video award nomination. The video isn't exactly breathtaking, with the quartet playing and dancing around aimlessly. It's obvious the idea of a storyboard or video treatment was decades down the road given "Higher Ground" and its visual prowess.
By The Way
A revved-up funk-rock song fueled by Flea's bass and Kiedis' rapid-fire rap, "By The Way" highlighted the 2002 album of the same name. Another live warhorse for the last decade, the band thought it wouldn't fare well as a single despite management's insistence. The video meanwhile is a funny, quirky escapade featuring Kiedis in a cab with a crazed cab driver who happens to be the band's biggest fan. Attesting to the video's popularity, it has more than 18 million YouTube hits.
A mellow pop nugget -- and sometimes known as "Edisrehto" -- the track from their Rick Rubin-produced Californication album, hit the top of the charts in both Canada and the U.S. The single was released in five different versions with various b-sides and music videos. Meanwhile the cartoonish video, which could be seen as a distant cousin to Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down A Dream," has Flea and guitarist John Frusciante strumming telephone or electrical wires, as a duel between the main character and a silhouette takes place. A strange video for a great song.
Suck My Kiss
An early favourite and with a tad more bite to it (think Rage Against The Machine-lite), "Suck My Kiss" is a short and sweet ode to oral sex (or so lyricist Kiedis maintains). Unlike other singles though, Red Hot Chili Peppers gave this song a lengthy reprieve in concert, rarely playing it over the span of a decade before dusting it off. The song's video, in light of its subject matter, is a bit more benign, with military imagery spliced with footage of the band performing in the studio.
True Men Don't Kill Coyotes
The band's first single from their 1984 album gave fans a taste of what Red Hot Chili Peppers would bring over the next three decades. Although Flea and Kiedis were original members, drummer Cliff Martinez and guitarist Jack Sherman were called upon to complete the band. Ironically, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, Martinez was included as a band member while Sherman was not.
A single off their latest album I'm With You, "Look Around" has all the elements of your classic Red Hot Chili Peppers song: an infectious chorus, strong rhythm and perhaps a surprising amount of staying power. The song also showcases the work of new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who replaced John Frusciante a few years ago. The video could induce motion sickness in those with weaker constitutions as the camera swirls around four different rooms, each with a band member. Note the cute dog in Kiedis' room and the lady emerging from the fridge.