I have to be honest – I’ve never liked the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They just always seemed so silly. Their socks-on-cocks, misogynistic frat-boy attitude never sat well with me, but I’m willing to forgive a lot if the songs are good enough. Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, they aren’t, and never have been. Song after song of mid-tempo, snore infused, slap bass twaddle (slap bass has never been cool, for the record) that has me reaching for the cyanide capsule every time. They should tour with Ben Harper and Jack Johnson (watch this space, I’m sure) as the “Sure Fire Insomnia Cure Tour”. They would make millions.
Even their supposed “classic” album Blood Sugar Sex Magick does absolutely nothing for me. “‘Under the Bridge’ is deep. It’s about heroin addiction, man”. Are you sure it’s not about Mandrax? Because that’s how I feel when I listen to their music.
I’ll admit, I don’t mind John Frusciante’s guitar playing too much. He writes tidy, often memorable riffs, and his solos are economical and not overly showy. I also didn’t overly hate the album they did with Dave Navarro, One Hot Minute, as it at least stood out from the rest of their catalogue. For this reason it seems to be one of the most hated albums by the band’s fans – why change a knuckle dragging formula when you can keep churning out the same old tosh and people will keep buying it?
So it was with some difficulty that I selected just one album to enter into the Worst Albums Of All Time Chart. I settled on Californication because it was the point when things got really monotonous. Up to this point, they at least tried to display some semblance of variety in their music. Californication is where they first started releasing songs like “DaniCalifornicationTissue Song” (such is my understanding), where every single was identical to the last.
Even the cover is awful. Is that a swimming pool filled with fire? A sunset? The blood from my eyeballs after staring at the cover for too long? I imagine the ideas for cover design went something like this:
“How about a bong?”
“How about a guy surfing?”
“How about some beers?”
“How about a swimming pool?”
“I like it! A bit cliched perhaps?”
(Looking out the window) “A swimming pool with a sunset in it?”
“Done! Pass the rolled up $50 and the burnt spoon.”
Anyway, the songs. First up is “Around The World” (that’s the one with the white-boy funk, with the lyrics that are like, about the world and stuff). Some of the album’s most thought provoking lyrics are contained here, such as: “I know I know for sure/ That life is beautiful around the world/ I know I know it’s you / You say hello and then I say I do”. You had me at “for fuck’s sake”.
“Scar Tissue” was one of the other singles off this album (it’s the one that sounds exactly like “Around The World” but without the funk, and the lyrics are like, about drugs and stuff), as was “Otherside” (that’s the one that makes the previous two sound like Black Flag excitement-wise, and the lyrics are like, about drugs and stuff). Title track and other single “Californication” (that’s the one that’s near identical to “Otherside”, with lyrics about like, California …oh, and drugs and stuff) lowers the pulse even further to the point where you’ll want to put on some Barry Manilow just to check that you still have a pulse.
Other “highlights” include “Get On Top” (subject: sex), which thankfully ups the tempo a bit, unfortunately in the form of white boy funk; “Porcelain” (subject: love? I’m not sure as I fell asleep at this point), which is so dull it will make your eyes water and ears bleed profusely; “I Like Dirt” (subject: sex) which contains lyrics like “The earth is made of dirt / and wood / And I’d be water if I could / Live in a dream / In your stream / Live in a dream” and a chorus that repeats “I Like Dirt” over and over; “This Velvet Glove” (subject: sex and drugs) which is completely indistinguishable from anything else on the album. I think I’ll stop there, as I am seriously damaging my faith in music and the people that listen to it by over-examining this inexorable garbage. Examining Red Hot Chili Peppers in detail is the musical equivalent of putting a dog turd under a microscope: you may notice a few details you didn’t see at first, but ultimately you’re still digging through shit.
Overall this album is probably the whitest thing I’ve ever heard in my life: Californication is whiter than John Key wearing a Tool Tshirt while riding a segway to a cricket game. I may be middle class and white, but it’s not like I sit around thinking “Hip hop is fine and everything, but when is someone going to write music about me. Where are the songs about driving my parent’s car, hanging out with friends at frat parties, surfing, fucking and doing designer drugs? Where is my music?” And that’s the Red Hot Chili Peppers for you in a nutshell: they are the #ProblemsWhitePeopleHave of music.
Right, now I’m off to drink 15 coffees and listen to something with a bit of energy in it, just to remind myself that I’m alive and that there is still good music in the world. As the popular saying goes: Don’t let Californication destroy your will to live.