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All 236 Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs Ranked from Worst to Best

Picking through the blandest Peppers and the songs that'll burn your tongue off

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Red Hot Chili Peppers Songs
Red Hot Chili Peppers, photo courtesy of the band

    Most bands are lucky to have two eras of flavors; the Red Hot Chili Peppers, despite their lyrical monotony, have far more than that. Some prefer the Hillel Slovak days, some think the first Frusciante era is better than the second (and vice versa), and a select few think the albums with Dave Navarro or Josh Klinghoffer on guitar are best.

    What makes the band amazing at their best are the same things that make them bad at their worst; it’s a fine line to walk. Throw in an insane amount of B-sides (and a cheesy-titled b-side album, I’m Beside You), and you have 236 officially released studio recordings of the Red Hot Chili Peppers — and five other writers and I sat through all of them, multiple times, and enjoyed it. Well, most of it.

    The rankings of The Getaway songs are included here, because a complete list must be complete. The struggle was very real: Do you give extra credit for a co-write with Elton John and Bernie Taupin or less? Are the singles really the best tracks on the album? We argued over the melancholy mechanics, we hashed it out, and we decided.

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    What’s missing here? The official live recordings, as it opens a gateway to “What isn’t a Red Hot Chili Peppers song?” There will be no “Rolling Sly Stone” from Live at Hyde Park, no awkward version of “Californication” from the Teatro sessions, no version of “Tiny Dancer” that claims to be a Buzzcocks cover.

    If it’s a studio recording of something you could legally purchase, we did not forget it, and we did not hide it. We listened to it. We ranked it. We could have lied abut it, but we didn’t. I know you have your opinions, but this is the place you’ll find ours.

    — Dan Bogosian
    Staff Writer


    236. “The Hunter”

    The Getaway (2016)

    “Even though you raised me, I will never be your father” and “can’t find my pants or my bank account” are two of the stronger lyrics in this song. The music, for those who haven’t heard it yet, is a puffy, cloudy, and unending stream of the same three chords with a bad melody as its focus point. It’s painful; it hurts. — Dan Bogosian

    235. “Deck the Halls”

    Out in L.A. (1994)

    Why did the Red Hot Chili Peppers do a childish a capella cover of “Deck the Halls”? I don’t know, man. I just don’t know. — Dan Bogosian

    234. “Sex Rap”

    Freaky Styley (1985)

    Of all the Chili Peppers’ poor takes on human sexuality, this embarrassing attempt to cram as many sexual references as possible into two minutes wins the prize for the most juvenile. — David Sackllah

    233. “Mommy, Where’s Daddy?”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

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    Intended to be a slinky sex song. Winds up as an unintentional warning about the dangers of pedophiles. — Wren Graves

    232. “Encore”

    The Getaway (2016)

    Some songs are so generic that it’s hard to even make a clever joke about them. This is like that. Apparently, it’s by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. — Dan Bogosian

    231. “Feasting on the Flowers”

    The Getaway (2016)

    Picture the Red Hot Chili Peppers writing a Broadway musical and doing it poorly. This is that song. — Dan Bogosian

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    230. “Hump de Bump”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    You know what was a good song? “American Ghost Dance.” You know what wasn’t good? When the Red Hot Chili Peppers ripped off their own funk song and dumbed it down with a chorus of “hump de bump.” — Dan Bogosian

    229. “Special Secret Song Inside”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

    The original title of this song is “Party On Your Pussy.” It’s almost like they want you to know they had some indefensibly bad ideas. — Dan Bogosian

    228. “Politician (Mini Rap)”

    “Higher Ground” Single (1989)

    As the B-side to “Higher Ground,” there was absolutely no point in recording this. It would have been better left on the cutting room floor. — Kyle Eustice

    227. “Even You Brutus?”

    I’m With You (2011)

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    Between the nonsensical ranting in the cadence of gospel music, the generic, bland melodies of the chorus, the ill-advised historical/religious references, and an almost predatory approach towards younger women, it’s impressive how many bad ideas the latter-day Peppers were able to combine in one song. — David Sackllah

    226. “Go Robot”

    The Getaway (2016)

    Remember those bad, fake-funk songs from I’m With You? This is like the same band trying to rip off themselves at their worst. Make it stop. — Dan Bogosian

    225. “You Always Sing the Same”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

    This song is really stupid, this song is really stupid, this song is really stupid. This song is really stupid, this song is really stupid, this song is really stupid. — Dan Bogosian

    224. “Victorian Machinery”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    Sloppy and lacking any funk whatsoever, they were trying to experiment too much with this one. It sounds more like Soundgarden than classic RHCP. — Kyle Eustice

    223. “Dance, Dance, Dance”

    I’m With You (2011)

    Even thinking about this song makes me shudder. It’s one thing if you want to write a corny dance-pop song; it’s another thing to make the chorus of that song “Dance, dance, dance.” — Dan Bogosian

    222. “No Chump Love Sucker”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

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    No matter how many times you repeat it, no matter what cadence it is said in, the phrase “no chump love sucker” is just clunky word mashing from the band that trades in clunky word mashing. — Philip Cosores

    221. “Police Station”

    I’m With You (2011)

    Ah, Kiedis’ romantic ode to the prostitute that got away (I think … the lyrics don’t make much sense). Stylistically, it’s an over-produced slop that doesn’t fit the band at all, with its AOR backing vocals and awkward attempt at some sort of Americana. — David Sackllah

    220. “Grand Pappy Du Plenty”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

    A single musical idea stretched out over four interminable minutes. — Wren Graves

    219. “Happiness Loves Company”

    I’m With You (2011)

    Although a positive song with a well-intentioned message, it’s so unlike anything they’ve ever done. I feel like it could be sung in some horrendous community playhouse production. — Kyle Eustice

    218. “Turn It Again”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    After getting through nearly two hours of music, including the largely boring back half of Stadium Arcadium’s second disc, listeners were treated to another tired rehash of what they’d done better at least 15 times on the same album. — David Sackllah

    217. “Goodbye Hooray”

    I’m With You (2011)

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    At least the older bad RHCP songs are true failures, with sparks of creativity present. Latter ones like this are just devoid of imagination, going through the motions of mediocrity. Plus the slowed-down, psych elements of the bridge don’t fit in at all here. — David Sackllah

    216. “Magpies On Fire”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    It’s all downhill from the title. Lots of mewling but zero fire. — Wren Graves

    215. “So Much I”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    From the stutter masquerading as a pre-chorus to the whiny hook, Kiedis spends a whole song talking about himself without saying anything. It’s the sonic equivalent of getting cornered at a party by a drunken bore. — Wren Graves

    214. “Millionaires Against Hunger”

    “Knock Me Down” Single (1989)

    A send-up of the charitable songs that were made famous in the ’80s might have been a good idea if it was actually funny. — Philip Cosores

    213. “Stranded”

    Out in L.A. (1994)

    Few songs come close to describing the universality of the human condition and the struggles we all face on a daily basis. In less than 30 seconds, the band perfectly captures the anxiety of the situation that is presented, one that nearly every one of us has been faced with at some point in our lives. If you haven’t listened yet, I’d rather not “spoil it” for you here. — David Sackllah

    212. “Battleship”

    Freaky Styley (1985)

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    Ever wondered what the B-52’s would sound like produced by George Clinton? Well, here’s your answer, and it is just as frightening as you can imagine. — Philip Cosores

    211. “Detroit”

    The Getaway (2016)

    Los Angeles is to “Californication” as Detroit is to “Detroit.” Unfortunately, apart from the heavy guitar riff, there isn’t much worth listening to here. — Dan Bogosian

    210. “Walkin’ On Down the Road”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

    “Everybody knows and everybody thinks that I’ve done wrong” sounds like it should be sung by a bunch of drunk college kids drinking PBR. — Kyle Eustice

    209. “Catch My Death”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    Serious subject matter (suicide) isn’t necessarily a bad look for the band. Many of their greatest songs have weight to them. The bad part of this is a forced maturity that strips the band of any personality. — Philip Cosores

    208. “Meet Me At the Corner”

    I’m With You (2011)

    Pleasant enough, but Frusciante’s presence is sorely missed. You can’t help but wonder if he could have elevated the underlying guitar line from breezy to tastefully dynamic. — Dan Caffrey

    207. “In Love Dying”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

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    Like most of the I’m With/Beside You tracks, it’s harmless and never takes off enough to justified the bloated runtime. — Dan Caffrey

    206. “We Believe”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    Kiedis is almost too chill on this track. It’s like adult contemporary Peppers, a far cry from the crew we met in 1985. — Kyle Eustice

    205. “Your Eyes Girl “

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    I’m Beside You would have worked better if it was marketed as a minor B-sides compilation. But the double-LP treatment lathers on the slowed-down throwaways like this one until they’ve gone from mediocre to taxing. — Dan Caffrey

    204. “Why Don’t You Love Me”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

    A lot of artists improve Hank Williams songs when they cover them (Dropkick Murphys, The Nightwatchman, and so forth). Few artists have worsened a Hank Williams song like this. — Dan Bogosian

    203. “Love of Your Life”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    If there was more intensity at play, the “Roll in, roll out” could be a stoned sea shanty. Unfortunately, the softness keeps the pirate ship tethered to the dock of your local Margaritaville, even if it doesn’t have a dock to begin with. Especially if it doesn’t have a dock to begin with. — Dan Caffrey

    202. “Storm In a Teacup”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

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    At first blush, it’s another forgettable mid-tempo rocker, with Kiedis mocking the tears of an overly dramatic woman. But the references to her “shady” reputation, and his other insinuations about her sexual activity, are worse than dull; the song smacks of condescension and slut-shaming. — Wren Graves

    201. “Slowly Deeply”

    “Universally Speaking” Single (2003)

    Not sure what the proper name is for that guitar effect. The tin can? Let’s call it the tin can. — Dan Caffrey

    200. “Brave From Afar”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    Oi, these verses. One of the first white boys to mix rock and rap, Kiedis is now half-assing both simultaneously. There’s no melodic charm or percussive force; he’s just saying words. — Wren Graves

    199. “The Sunset Sleeps”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    At some point in every rock singer’s life comes a crisis of conscience where they wonder whether they could pretend singing a track as if they were Dave Matthews. At least Kiedis had the decency to relegate his attempt to a B-side. — David Sackllah

    198. “Police Helicopter”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

    I bet this song was more fun to record than to listen to. It’s around this point on the self-titled debut that the “coked-out Tasmanian devil” shtick starts to wear thin. — Wren Graves

    197. “If”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

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    For a band that’s usually bombastic, it’s sobering to hear RHCP sound so slight that they could just disappear. — Philip Cosores

    196. “Funky Crime”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

    There’s a moment a little more than a minute in where it sounds like Kiedis is motorboating at a strip club. Nothing about the rest of the song is as memorable. — Philip Cosores

    195. “Runaway”

    By the Way Bonus Track (2002)

    Journeyman music for journeys that never make it out of the valley. — Dan Caffrey

    194. “Baby Appeal”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

    RHCP would figure out how to make their funk not so wooden on later albums. Here though, they sing and play like marionettes. Just because you put a tube sock on Pinocchio’s dick (and nose) doesn’t make him a real boy. — Dan Caffrey

    193. “Bicycle Song”

    By the Way Bonus Track (2002)

    “How could I forget to mention the bicycle is a good invention.” Maybe so, Anthony Kiedis, but “Bicycle Song” is a bad song. — Dan Bogosian

    192. “Animal Bar”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

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    What the hell is this song about? Where I live, we don’t have drugs powerful enough to turn this string of non-sequiters into sense. — Wren Graves

    191. “Fat Dance”

    Californication Bonus Track (1999)

    (Hi-)hat tip to Chad Smith for getting those drums to crash like they do in the intro. Too bad Kiedis’ sex-monkey thing doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Californication sessions, save for “Get on Top” (more on that in a bit). — Dan Caffrey

    190. “This Ticonderoga”

    The Getaway (2016)

    This song would be good — that Queen-esque guitar line is so distinct that heavy riff is blissful. Well, it would be good if the lyrics weren’t some of the worst Kiedis has ever produced, but they are. “You and I would not repent for sitting on my elephant.” Okay. — Dan Bogosian

    189. “Warlocks”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    This song was the last Billy Preston appearance released before his death. Unfortunately, it’s a lousy song to go out on. — Dan Bogosian

    188. “Lovin’ and Touchin'”

    Freaky Styley (1985)

    Those Beach Boys harmonies aren’t half bad. If the song was longer than 36 seconds, it could have been an unparalleled gem on Freaky Styley. — Dan Caffrey

    187. “Never Is a Long Time”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

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    Josh Klinghoffer wore a hoodie with this song’s title on it before the song came out. It’s a shame the song couldn’t live up to its hoodie hype. — Dan Bogosian

    186. “Catholic School Girls Rule”

    Freaky Styley (1985)

    Let’s just put aside the music for a second and focus on grown men crafting an ode to the awesomeness of Catholic school girls. What is meant as funny comes off more on the creepy side. — Philip Cosores

    185. “Pink As Floyd”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    You know a band’s become dad rock when they start half-assing their classic rock references. “Pink as floyd? Yeah. Done.” — Dan Bogosian

    184. “Readymade”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    That bass line was readymade by Jane’s Addiction on “Mountain Song,” although the two riffs aren’t quite identical. Stadium Arcadium has a lot of great songs, but “Readymade” marks the point on the second disc where that ceases to be true. — Wren Graves

    183. “Strange Man”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    I think this is about Kiedis being upset about people who want to sleep with him because he’s rich, which I suppose is a valid concern. It’s mostly an examination of how much better (or not bad) it could have been with Frusciante’s guitar though. — David Sackllah

    182. “Save This Lady”

    “Desecration Smile” Single (2007)

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    I’m with the Peps until Frusciante stops doing that cool palm-mute thing. He should’ve kept going! — Dan Caffrey

    181. “Hanalei”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    Catchy tune notwithstanding, here’s everything that’s wrong with the latter-day Peppers. This is a song about revolution that is also about taking an expensive vacation to Hawaii and getting laid. — Wren Graves

    180. “C’mon Girl”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    It’s ageist to assume that the band can’t still pull off more rocking funk jams in their later years, but the problem here lies in the dichotomy between the sedate verses that all of a sudden try to transition into a more rushing chorus. That jarring juxtaposition falls flat, resulting in one of the many Stadium Arcadium tracks that could have been cut for time. — David Sackllah

    179. “Emit Remmus”

    Californication (1999)

    As accomplished and classic as Californication was, like any RHCP album, it has its fair share of duds. This is one of its most egregious, with Kiedis turning in a startlingly menacing snarl on the chorus that feels antithetical to this tale of a Californian falling for a British woman. — David Sackllah

    178. “Love Trilogy”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

    “Trilogy” sells it short. This is a full Bible of half-baked declarations of love. — Wren Graves

    177. “Did I Let You Know”

    I’m With You (2011)

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    The trumpets and bongos are a nice touch, but any song that uses “Mozambiquey” as an adjective (especially one by RHCP) isn’t much more than cultural tourism. Surprisingly one of their lesser offenses, though. — David Sackllah

    176. “Sexy Mexican Maid”

    Mother’s Milk (1989)

    Eh, this I could have done without. I really don’t need to hear Kiedis fantasizing about some perceived sexy Mexican maid. Next! — Kyle Eustice

    175. “Hey”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    Stadium Arcadium Disc One is largely a triumph, full of the band’s best songs of the 2000s, songs that helped reinvigorate their career and usher in a new generation of fans who were children during their golden years. That’s why it’s so upsetting that what could have been a triumphant closer was instead a plodding slow-jam. They could have at least had the decency of re-sequencing and burying this on Disc Two. — David Sackllah

    174. “Over Funk”

    Californication Bonus Track (1999)

    Don’t panic at the title. Flea’s bass kicks in as soon as the track begins to assure the band is not “over funk.” They do appear to be over writing great melodies, which the Californication sessions were known for. You can’t win them all. — Philip Cosores

    173. “Joe”

    “Desecration Smile” Single (2007)

    Ooo, some reggae by the pool. Sun’s out. Got a Corona in my hand. Nice. Getting hotter. Corona’s gone warm. Still got the lime. Skin’s red. Should get out. Too relaxed. Lime’s dry. Should’ve worn sunscreen. This was a bad idea. Oh well. — Dan Caffrey

    172. “Organic Anti-Beat Box Band”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

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    The Peppers wrote this song as a mission statement after Gang of Four’s Andy Gill forced them to use drum machines as the producer of their self-titled debut. Over 30 years later, this song feels as dated as a 1980’s drum machine. — Dan Bogosian

    171. “Strip My Mind”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    “Strip My Mind” sounds like a John Frusciante solo song but with Anthony Kiedis on vocals, Flea on bass, and Chad Smith on drums. The problem is it also sounds like a mediocre Frusciante solo song. — Dan Bogosian

    170. “Flea Fly”

    Out in L.A. (1994)

    More a children’s chant than anything, this will always have a soft spot in my heart because our high school drama teacher would use it as a vocal warm-up. Wonder if he got it from the Chili Peppers… — Dan Caffrey

    169. “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

    The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987)

    Originally a 1965 Bob Dylan song, Gregory Isaacs, bluegrass artist Tim O’Brien, Harry Nilsson, and of course, the RHCP have all covered it. A lot of Dylan fans, however, think it’s complete crap. — Kyle Eustice

    168. “One Hot Minute”

    One Hot Minute (1995)

    It’s fitting that the title track from their Dave Navarro album sounds like a stoner rock version of Jane’s Addiction. It’s aimless, lacks elegance, goes on for way too long, but it’s kinda charming if you squint really hard. — Philip Cosores

    167. “Hometown Gypsy”

    I’m With You (2011)

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    The country-rock arrangement is a welcome change of pace, even if hearing a 50-year-old man describe himself as being “Jacked up on some Kerouac” is more than a little silly. — Dan Caffrey

    166. “Buckle Down”

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)

    You can’t be too hard on music the guys recorded in 1984. Is there any sign of the high points that were to come? Nope. But is it a drag to get through? Nope. — Philip Cosores

    165. “Savior”

    Californication (1999)

    You can’t really talk about alt-rock radio in the last 25 years without talking about RHCP, but they always seemed to exist slightly outside of the prevalent trends, marching to the beat of their own drum (which was plenty flawed, but at least individually expressive). This was one of the moments where they veered a little too close to the norm at a time when they were making some of the best music of their career. — David Sackllah

    164. “Dani California”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

    Theoretically, there’s only so much you can mine out of re-purposing a decades-old Tom Petty song as the lead single for your longest album to date, but this somehow became one of the band’s most successful singles. Chalk it up to general audiences not wanting to be challenged perhaps. As catchy and memorable as the song may be, the fact that it so blatantly recycles ideas from both inside and outside the band puts it closer to the bottom of this list than the top. — David Sackllah

    163. “This Is the Kitt”

    I’m Beside You (2013)

    Grooves a tad more if you imagine Kiedis is singing about Eartha Kitt. But just a tad. — Dan Caffrey

    162. “Especially In Michigan”

    Stadium Arcadium (2006)

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    This is Kiedis’ homage to his home state of Michigan, full of, as he says, “Double chins and bowling pins.” For the lyrics, the fun is in the details, although how interesting you find those details might dovetail with the amount of time you’ve spent in the Mitten State. — Wren Graves

    161. “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”

    I’m With You (2011)

    It’s not their best single, but as their first single in five years after Frusciante left, the fact that it’s just okay was enough for most fans. At the very least, it was a sign that the band could still make fairly competent songs as they entered this latest stage in their life cycle. — David Sackllah

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