Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the fifth studio album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, released in 1991. It was the band's breakout album, propelling the four members to widespread success thanks to the singles "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away", both of which are considered to be the band's signature songs. The album represents a fusion of the band's funkier, sex-filled elements along with a new, more melodic style that the band continued all the way from 1999's Californication onward. In addition, the album is notable for each song fading into the next one, making it the only Chili Peppers album (so far) do so.
It was the first Chili Peppers album produced by the legendary Rick Rubin, who remained their producer until 2011, after the release of their tenth album I'm With You. It has sold over 13 million copies and, along with Nirvana's Nevermind (which was released on the same day, to boot!) and R.E.M.'s Out of Time, is credited with bringing Alternative Rock to the mainstream. The band would cameo on The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Cancelled", and appear on Saturday Night Live.
While Kiedis, Flea, and Smith enjoyed their new-found success, guitarist John Frusciante (21 years old at the time, eight years younger than the rest of the members) felt ostracised due to the constant pressures to perform better. He hated performing live and began sabotaging some of their performances, using hard drugs, and drifting apart from the rest of the members. He left the band mid-tour in early 1992 (causing almost all of their Japanese tour dates to get cancelled), forcing the band to consider numerous guitarists before settling on Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. Frusciante later returned to the band in 1998 for the release of Californication.
Some people consider this to be the band's best, due to its diverse musical style and varied subject matters. A documentary called Funky Monks showing the band working on the album in The Mansion, a recording studio now owned by Rick Rubin, was released. The avant-garde music video for "Give It Away" won a couple of MTV video awards, and even beat out Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1993. The album was listed at nr. #310 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
- "The Power of Equality" (4:03)
- "If You Have to Ask" (3:37)
- "Breaking the Girl" (4:55)
- "Funky Monks" (5:23)
- "Suck My Kiss" (3:37)
- "I Could Have Lied" (4:04)
- "Mellowship Slinky in B Major" (4:00)
- "Righteous and the Wicked" (4:08)
- "Give It Away" (4:43)
- "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" (4:31)
- "Under the Bridge" (4:24)
- "Naked in the Rain" (4:26)
- "Apache Rose Peacock" (4:42)
- "The Greeting Song" (3:13)
- "My Lovely Man" (4:39)
- "Sir Psycho Sexy" (8:17)
- "They're Red Hot" (1:12, Robert Johnson cover)
Bonus Tracks (iTunes Edition):
- Flea - bass, vocals, percussion
- John Frusciante - guitar, vocals
- Anthony Kiedis - lead vocals
- Chad Smith - drums, percussion
I Could Have Troped
- Absentee Musician: John Frusciante quit the band mid-1992, right as the Chilis were at the height of their fame (for the time being, at least; they became more popular in the following decade). Arik Marshall, a temporary guitarist who was let go almost immediately following touring, was thus featured in the music video for "Breaking the Girl" and the cameo the band had on The Simpsons. The video for "Soul to Squeeze" (released as a single the following year) doesn't feature a guitarist at all, since the band struggled to find a guitarist for two years after Frusciante's departure.
- Album Filler: The band admits that "The Greeting Song" and "They're Red Hot" were put in to fill space within the album, and they have almost never performed these live.
- Album Title Drop: Sorta; the Title Track uses the phrases "blood sugar" and "sex magic" in the chorus, albeit not at once.
- Auto Erotica: Mentioned in "The Greeting Song", and expanded upon in "Apache Rose Peacock":Twinkle twinkle little star
Shining down on my blue car
Drivin' down the boulevard
She was soft and I was hard
Apache Rose gotta rockin' peacock
Hottest ass on the goddamn block
Rockin' to the beat of the funky ass meters
She has one of those built in heaters
- B-Side: Songs such as "Fela's Cock" note , "Castles Made of Sand" and "Little Miss Lover" note , "Search and Destroy" note , and "Sikamikanico". "Search and Destroy" was featured on Beavis And Butthead (along with "Breaking the Girl"), and "Sikamikanico" was featured on Wayne's World.
- "Soul to Squeeze" was included as a B-side to "Under the Bridge" and "Give it Away", and was only released as a single in 1993 because One Hot Minute underwent a Troubled Production and numerous delays. The song became a surprise superhit, and was even included in the band's Greatest Hits album years later.
- Blasphemous Boast: "Sir Psycho Sexy" features the titular character having sex with Eve of Eden. It also invokes the old "Now Lay Me Down to Sleep" prayer in the final verse. Here's the original prayer:Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I shall die when I'm wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take
Now I lay me down to sleep
- Now here's the "Sir Psycho Sexy" version:
I pray the funk will make me freak
If I should die before I wakèd
Allow me Lord to rock out naked
- Arguably also a case of Sophisticated as Hell and maybe also Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe - Elizabethan linguistics (e.g., William Shakespeare) allowed for two different -ed endings, seemingly largely for the purpose of making it easier to write in iambic pentameter. These are distinguished in modern editions of Shakespeare (and some of his contemporaries) with -'d and -èd. The -èd ending was pronounced as a separate syllable; the -'d ending was not. It has been written with an -èd above as Kiedis pronounces "wakèd" as two syllables. It's not clear if this is intended as a Shout-Out to Shakespeare.
- Break the Cutie: "Breaking the Girl":Twisting and turning, you're feeling the burning
You're breaking the girl
(She meant you no harm)
- Break-Up Song: "I Could Have Lied". Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante wrote it for Sinéad O'Connor, who had broken up with Kiedis after he told her that he loved her.
- Broken Record: The phrase "give it away" appears no less than 68 times in the song.
- The Casanova: "Sir Psycho Sexy" mentions his various conquests with Eve of Eden, a female cop, a "funk mama", and a girl who'd like to get kinky with a bullwhip.
- Celibate Hero: "Funky Monks" invokes this somewhat sarcastically considering that it's about a man who tries to woo a woman, and lampshades the debauchery in this. This somewhat mirrors real life because the band holed themselves up in The Mansion during recording and very rarely allowed visitors, and had almost no sex or drugs during the creative process.
- Censored for Comedy: "Suck My Kiss". The idea to swap "dick" with "kiss" actually lends to the song's ironic humor.
- Cover Version: "They're Red Hot" by Robert Johnson closes this album. It's unclear why, since most fans agree that closing the album with the sobering funk jam at the end of "Sir Psycho Sexy" would have been the better option.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The music video of "Give It Away" is in black-and-white.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover was designed by Henk Schiffmacher, credited as "Henky Penky" in the liner notes. The photography, paintings and art direction inside the album were credited to film director Gus Van Sant.
- Epic Rocking: The ending funk jam of "Funky Monks", and the final solo in "Sir Psycho Sexy" (which qualifies in its entirety, being 8:17 in length).
- Everything Is an Instrument: The bridge of "Breaking the Girl", with all its various trashcan sounds.
- Fading into the Next Song: The only Chili Peppers album to do so.
- Friend to All Living Things: Weirdly invoked in "Naked in the Rain", where a variety of animals in different biospheres are mentioned as being friendlier and nicer than the "social grace" humans pretend to share.
- Funk Rock: One of the quintessential albums of the genre.
- Gaia's Lament: Lampshaded in "Righteous and the Wicked".Holy Mother Earth crying into space
Tears on her pretty face for she has been raped
Killing your future blood, fill her with disease
Global abortion please, that is what she needs
- Haunted House: The band claimed that ghosts in The Mansion (the recording studio in which they worked) inspired them to keep writing certain songs. Even though it sounds ridiculous, drummer Chad Smith (who is the tallest, most muscular member of the band) was so spooked that he didn't live in the mansion, instead commuting to the recording sessions every day.
- Iconic Song Request: "Give It Away" has been performed live no less than 700 times since 1991. "Under the Bridge" has been performed about 600 times. In fact, during the Stadium Arcadium Tour, when the band sometimes left both songs out of some of their setlists, it created tension with many audiences.
- Intercourse with You: Subverted by "Give It Away", but played straight with "Funky Monks", "Suck My Kiss", "Apache Rose Peacock", "The Greeting Song", the title track, and "Sir Psycho Sexy". Very much so with the latter.
- Last Note Nightmare: The Title Track ends with the guitars swooping downwards in a very eerie way.
- Literary Allusion Title: "If You Have to Ask" is a reference to a famous quote by Louis Armstrong; when Armstrong was asked what jazz is, he replied, "If you have to ask what jazz is, you'll never know".
- Love Goddess: Mentioned in "Blood Sugar Sex Magik":Every woman has a piece of Aphrodite
Copulate to create a state of sexual light
Kissing her virginity, my affinity
I mingle with the gods, I mingle with divinity
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Under the Bridge" and "Soul to Squeeze" are the two songs with happier, gentler melodies to come out of the recordings, both of which have references to the band's drug-ridden past.
- Magick: The title is a variant of this trope.
- "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: From "Funky Monks":Confusion is my middle name
Ask me again I'll tell you the same
Persuaded by one sexy dame
No I do not feel no shame
- Miniscule Rocking: "They're Red Hot". "The Greeting Song" could count since it's the second-shortest song on the record and it's pretty fast-paced.
- Mood Whiplash: Lots of times in the album, which is pretty weird considering that the songs all fade into one another. "Suck My Kiss" fades into "I Could Have Lied", "Under the Bridge" into "Naked in the Rain", and "Sir Psycho Sexy" into "They're Red Hot".
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The band produced songs as diverse as the Sex God anthem "Sir Psycho Sexy" and the Funk Metal "Righteous and the Wicked" to the Ode to Sobriety "Under the Bridge", the Grief Song "My Lovely Man" (dedicated to ex-guitarist Hillel Slovak, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988) and the Break Up Song "I Could Have Lied".
- Nonappearing Title: "Mellowship Slinky", "Funky Monks" and "The Greeting Song".
- "Funky Monks" was a title the band members were given because they rarely stepped outside during the recording of the album. Not only did it become the name of a song, it became the name of the documentary about their recording process.
- Ode to Sobriety: "Under the Bridge" is a Type 3.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Invoked In-Universe in "Sir Psycho Sexy". At the very end of the song, after the "orgasm" of the final verse, the Sex God Sir Psycho Sexy (who is supposed to be an exaggerated version of Kiedis himself) mellows out and decides to enjoy the outdoors, rather than sex.
- Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: "Blood Sugar Sex Magik":Aromatic is the flower
She must be moist
- Protest Song: "The Power of Equality", ostensibly. The subject matter varies from racism, political corruption, and religious intolerance. It even makes a reference to Public Enemy in the third verse.I got tapes, I got CDs
I got my Public Enemy
My lily white ass is tickled pink
When I listen to the music that makes me think
Not another motherfucker politician
Doin' nothin' but somethin' for his own ambition
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Anthony says that "Suck My Kiss", a song about oral sex, was inspired by a kid at his school that seemed to "go on about getting it."
- Record Producer: Rick Rubin.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "The Greeting Song" was nearly picked up by Chevrolet because of its lyrics; Anthony decided not to give the company the rights to the song because Rick Rubin had forced him to write the song.
- Sampling: "Give It Away" interpolates Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" at the end of it. An intentional Shout-Out on Frusciante's behalf.
- Self-Parody: "Give it Away" actually makes fun of Anthony Kiedis's tendency to write very sexual lyrics with its over-the-top verses, which are literally about giving things away and nothing else at all.
- Sex Magic: It's right there in the title of the album, though it's really more of a pun on the trope rather than an actual reference to magic(k). That didn't stop them from adopting a variation of magick for the spelling, though.
Bob Marley, poet and a prophetBob Marley taught me how to off itBob Marley walkin' like he talk it
- "Mellowship Slinky" is full of these.
- Kiedis references himself (the lyric "Yo Swan hello chip" is a reference to his moniker, "Antwaan The Swan"), and some songs the Chilis made on their first album ("Singing a song about what true men don't do/Killing another creature that's kind of blue" are references to the songs "True Men Don't Kill Coyotes" and "Green Heaven", about dolphins).
- He also references Truman Capote, Mike Tyson, Peanuts, Robert De Niro, Charles Bukowski, and... you get the idea.
- During "Give It Away" Bob Marley is name-dropped.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic spoofed both the songs and music videos of "Under the Bridge" and "Give It Away" as "Bedrock Anthem", a tribute to The Flintstones.
- The Simpsons: In the episode Krusty Gets Cancelled the band makes a guest appearance. Krusty wants the Red Hot Chili Peppers to change one of their lyrics in "Give It Away". They refuse at first, but when Krusty suggests to change, "What I got/You gotta get/And put it in you" to "What I'd like/Is I'd like to/Hug and kiss you", they warm up to the idea. note
- "Mellowship Slinky" is full of these.
- Songs of Solace: "Under the Bridge. The bridge named in the title is described as a highway underpass, where Kiedis would shoot speedballs. It has become so personal to him that he refuses to admit its location, stating that he doesn't "want people looking for it. That hasn't stopped people from trying.
- Sophisticated as Hell: The Blasphemous Boast example above.
- Special Guest: The band's friend Pete Weiss played jaw harp on "Give It Away, and mixing engineer Brendan O'Brien played the mellotron on "Sir Psycho Sexy, nearly inaudible piano on "Mellowship Slinky in B Major" and nearly inaudible toy celeste on "Apache Rose Peacock. John's mother Gail Frusciante and some of her friends were brought in to perform the female choir part in "Under the Bridge.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The word "magic" in the album title is spelled with a "k".
- Springtime for Hitler: After the album broke out and the band became famous, Anthony Kiedis started treating John Frusciante poorly while the latter started to develop a heroin addiction. After Kiedis kicked Frusciante in a Saturday Night Live performance and the band was asked to perform "Under the Bridge", Frusciante responded by playing the song out of tune and singing poorly during the bridge. Despite this, the performance boosted sales since the band was able to keep it together and finish the song relatively well.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Songs like "Breaking the Girl", "I Could Have Lied", and "Under the Bridge" were at the time examples of this trope, being a lot lighter than the Chili Peppers' traditional fare up to that point. "Under the Bridge" became such a gigantic Black Sheep Hit that it influenced their music going forward; they're now probably better known for this kind of ballad than they were for the Funk Rock that was their stock in trade for most of their career.
- Three Chords and the Truth: While the songs and their structure sound pretty elaborate (save for "I Could Have Lied"), most are actually built around Frusciante's guitar hooks. Flea had decided to take a minimalist approach to playing bass (which he still does today), and Chad and Anthony in with their contributions mostly after the song structures had been established.
- Title Track: The tenth track.
- To Absent Friends: "My Lovely Man". The final verse mentions "Slim", which was one of Anthony's nicknames for deceased ex-guitarist Hillel Slovak:Just in case you never knew
I miss you, Slim, I love you too
Oh, see my heart is black and blue
When I die, I will find you
- Trash Can Band: The bridge for "Breaking the Girl" actually consisted of multiple takes of the band slamming garbage they found at a nearby dumpster.
- Word Salad Title: "Mellowship Slinky in B Major." Mellowship isn't even a word, Slinky doesn't appear anywhere in the song, and the song is in D Minor.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The album title spells magic as "magik" and all single words as one long word.