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Music / Red Hot Chili Peppers

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The current members of the band (left to right): Flea, Anthony, John, and Chadnote .

I don't ever wanna feel, like I did that day,
Take me to the place I love, take me all the way...
Under the bridge downtown, is where I drew some blood,
Under the bridge downtown, I could not get enough,
Under the bridge downtown, forgot about my love,
Under the bridge downtown, I gave my life away.
"Under the Bridge”, about the band's past extensive drug use and its subsequent revival

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an Alternative Rock/Funk Rock band formed in 1983 in Los Angeles, California. One of the more prominent bands in the funk scene of the time, they exploded in popularity during the following decades and are considered to be a leading force in alt-rock's widespread popularity.

With over 80 million sold records, six Grammy Awards, and the most #1 singles, cumulative #1 weeks, and top 10 songs on the Billboard rock charts, they are one of the most successful rock bands of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012note .

While the band roster has shifted numerously during their active years, the most well-known (and current) lineup consists of vocalist Anthony Kiedis, guitarist John Frusciante, bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary, and drummer Chad Smith.

Their original style during The '80s and The '90s revolved around an energetic funk sound and hedonistic Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll subject matter, but they began to experiment more as their popularity grew. Come the Turn of the Millennium, they would become world-famous for more melodic song structures and introspective lyrics.

You can expect most of their songs to contain nonsensical lyrics, Epic Riffs and references to Californiaespecially references to California, considering Anthony Kiedis's lyrical inspirations.

Considering that between them they've probably done enough illicit substances to kill a herd of buffalo, it's remarkable that they're all still alive (excluding the band's original guitarist Hillel Slovak, of course). To give you an idea of how much they've done, John Frusciante has overdosed on Heroin twice, and lived.

This band is the Trope Namer to Catholic School Girls Rule, which is an infamous song from their second album Freaky Styley.

The band currently consists of (founding members in bold):

  • Vocalist Anthony Kiedis (1983-)
  • Guitarist John Frusciante (1988-1992, 1998-2009, 2019-)
  • Bassist Michael "Flea" Balzary (1983-)
  • Drummer Chad Smith (1988-)

Former members:

  • Guitarist Hillel Slovak (1983, 1985-1988)
  • Drummer Jack Irons (1983, 1986-1988)note 
  • Guitarist Jack Sherman (1984-1985)
  • Drummer Cliff Martinez (1984-1986) note 
  • Guitarist DeWayne "Blackbyrd" McKnight (1988) note 
  • Drummer D.H. Peligro (1988) note 
  • Guitarist Arik Marshall (1992-1993)
  • Guitarist Jesse Tobias (1993)
  • Guitarist Dave Navarro (1993-1998) note 
  • Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (2009-2019)


  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)
  • Freaky Styley (1985)
  • The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987) note 
  • Mother's Milk (1989)
  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
  • One Hot Minute (1995) note 
  • Californication (1999) note 
  • By the Way (2002)
  • Stadium Arcadium (2006)
  • I'm With You (2011)
  • The Getaway (2016)
  • Unlimited Love (2022)
  • Return of the Dream Canteen (2022)

Compilation and live albums:

  • What Hits!? (1992)
  • Out in LA (1994)
  • Live at Slane Castle (2003) note 
  • Greatest Hits (2003)
  • Live in Hyde Park (2004)
  • I'm Beside You (2013) note 

"Trope Sugar Index Magic":

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     Tropes A-M 
  • Abbey Road Crossing: The Abbey Road EP. The album cover is a hilarious parody, which features the original four members (Kiedis, Flea, Irons, and Slovak) walking across a Los Angeles road with their signature "socks on cocks" gimmick. For added hilarity, the dividing lines on the road in the background are zig-zagged.
  • Abstract Apotheosis: From Brendan's Death Song
    It's safe out there now you're everywhere just like the sky;
    And you are love, you are the lucid dream, you are the ride
  • Adaptation Expansion: Their cover of The Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster,” a Single Stanza Song in its original version. They (thankfully) omitted the scream from the original version.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Sir Psycho Sexy".
  • Addiction Displacement: Psychoanalysts would agree that Kiedis's addiction to exercise, health and time with his son is a healthy means of channeling his previous drug addiction.
    • Kiedis said that the line from "Can't Stop,” Sweetheart is bleeding in the snow cone/So smart she's leading me to ozone is about his periodic injections of ozone gas and how it helps him fight the hepatitis virus in his body. The entire song, in fact, is about his joy from being clean.
  • Affectionate Parody: The video for "Dani California" features the band singing the song dressed as humorous, but perfectly accurate parodies of rock acts from the 50s (Elvis) up until just prior to the modern day (Nirvana), ending with themselves dressed in their own typical concert attire, their logo hanging prominently in the background.
  • Album Title Drop: The Uplift Mofo Party Plan isn't a song on the album but is mentioned in "Fight Like a Brave" & "Organic Anti-Beat-Box Band.”
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Chad Smith. Especially in the ending jam of this performance of "Purple Stain.” It's magnificent.
  • Alternative Rock: Since the Chilis are signed to a major record label, their music genre is considered "alternative" instead of "indie,” despite their style being very similar to that of indie bands (or vice-versa).
  • Answer Song: "Funky Crime" on The Uplift Mofo Party Plan was the band's answer to the rising wave of people who were saying that funk is solely a black genre of music.
    Funky crime! FUNK! Y! CRIME!
    Don't you know funk's color-blind?
    Well, I've committed a funky crime!
    Against a state of mind...
    • This is made all the more amusing given that George Clinton (Creator of P-Funk) thought the band were awesome AND when producing Freaky Styley taught them to play funk even better than they did.
  • Anti-Police Song: "Police Station" on I'm With You. Granted, the song is much more gentle and metaphorical than others of its genre, but it does describe the abuses of the LAPD.
  • Author Vocabulary Calendar: At times Anthony gets some obscure choices to fill in his Word Salad Lyrics. The fact there are 14 rhymes with the title of "Californication" are a great example.
  • Auto-Tune: Completely averted by Anthony, despite continual pressure from various music executives.
    • Actually, Anthony has been accused of using it in the studio and in DVD releases of concerts, which are the reasons for him being a significantly better singer than when singing live. A giveaway is in "The Zephyr Song," where the vocal pitch conspicuously changes.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: John Frusciante was this his first time round, being close to a decade younger than the rest with no other bands before joining the Chili Peppers. In fact, when he first joined the Chili Peppers, who had already made three records, John had only just turned eighteen and had no prior experiences of being in a band.
    • Josh Klinghoffer was born in 1979, making him 17-18 years younger than Anthony, Chad and Flea, not to mention that he was only four when the original lineup first performed.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Before many performances of "Right on Time,” the band jokes that they are going to play a Céline Dion song or an extremely soft song. They then break out into the intro of The Clash's "London Calling" before playing "Right on Time,” which has a notoriously fast and intense slap-popping bassline.
  • Bawdy Song: Performances of "Sex Rap" were usually accompanied with very... flagrant displays of immaturity from the band members. Somewhat justified, given that they were high most of the time.
    • Let's just round it up by saying that most of their songs prior to Blood Sugar Sex Magik are about one thing only.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Chad Smith vs. the rest of the band. They all fall several inches under six feet, compared to 6'3 Smith.
  • The Big Guy: Chad Smith. 6 foot 3, and built like a brick house.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • "One Big Mob" has Anthony rapping Ek bara mela, which is the Hindi equivalent of the title.
    • "Falling into Grace" also has 'guru mukh'.
    • "Cabron" on By the Way. The title means motherfucker; in some versions of the album, the chorus and the title are outright censored.
  • Break Away Pop Hit: "Soul to Squeeze" didn't even make the Blood Sugar Sex Magik track lineup, but became a hit after it was featured on the Coneheads soundtrack. Producer Rick Rubin convinced them to drop it in favor of "Under the Bridge.”
    • "Sikamikanico" (also from BSSM recording sessions) was featured on Wayne's World, and while it didn't become a single, it increased the Chili Peppers's popularity tenfold.
  • Break the Cutie: "Breaking the Girl"
    Twisting and turning
    Your feelings are burning
    She meant you no harm
    Think you're so clever
    But now you must sever
    You're breaking the girl
    He loves no one else
  • Busby Berkeley Number: The video for "Aeroplane."
  • California Collapse: The song Californication.
    And tidal waves couldn't save the world from Californication.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Torture Me.”
  • Covered in Scars: John Frusiante's arms are almost completely covered in scars, following his period of horrendous drug abuse, since he had zero clue on how to properly inject.
  • The Casanova: Anthony Kiedis. Even in his fifties, he attracts young models and actresses. He has since regretted his womanizing tendencies, however; "Breaking the Girl" is a sobering reflection about his and his father's temporary, impersonal attachment to girls.
    • John Frusciante, during his younger days.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: The Trope Namer. Anthony claims in "Scar Tissue" that the inspiration for the song came from an actual teenage Catholic School girl, whom he slept with during one of his earlier tours. She also resembled Marilyn Monroe.
  • Celibate Hero: Frusciante took a vow of abstinence after checking into rehab in 1997. He's since been married, however.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Chad Smith and comedian Will Ferrell. They have a hilarious drum-off on Jimmy Fallon Live, here (interview) and here (the actual drum-off). Will Ferrell wins, while the rest of RHCP makes a cameo, performing a cover of Blue Öyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper".
    • Funnily enough, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman have both been compared to Anthony Kiedis on Jimmy Fallon.
  • The Comically Serious: John Frusciante post-return.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Claire Essex, also known as Yohanna Logan, had a turbulent relationship with Kiedis, to say the least. They (thankfully) broke up in four years.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: All the band members are this to some degree.
    • To put this into perspective, Buckethead once auditioned for the band and was was turned away because (other than not knowing any of the band's songs) the Chilis thought he was TOO NORMAL.
    • John Frusciante - the musical monk that swears he once masturbated in front of a ghost, regularly talks to spirits.
    • Flea! Ignoring his gap teeth and bizarre hair colors, the guy is still to this day one of the world's most hyperactive performers.
    • Anthony Kiedis. Pretty much everything he does is weird to some degree.
    • Drummer Cliff Martinez. The whole band was weird, but Cliff was weirder. Then again, he does come from Captain Beefheart's band.
    • Hillel Slovak. In one of the few interviews he did, he swiftly dropped his pants, and proudly showed off a tight speedo with obscenities drawn on it.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Josh has stated that he feels like this occasionally.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Many of their songs qualify: "Pea,” "Sex Rap,” the obviously named "F.U..”..
  • Concept Album: Arguably, Stadium Arcadium. The first disc is called Jupiter, the second is called Mars, and the album of B-sides is called Venus, to fit in with the spacey theme of the record.
  • Concept Video: Quite a few, with "Californication,” "Otherside" and "Scar Tissue" being some of the standouts. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, a husband-and-wife director duo, and Stéphane Sednaoui, a French director, have directed a number of their videos.
    • "Californication" involves the band in video game personas going in CGI representations of various parts of California. The ending has Los Angeles falling apart due to a massive earthquake indicating the fall of Hollywood culture; the band falls to the center of the Earth, where they turn into their real life representations. (directed by Dayton and Faris)
    • "Otherside" is set in a faux German Impressionist world. It involves a young man (not any of the band members) battling increasingly strange monsters while the band plays around him, until the man falls in the same position in which he was found in the beginning. (directed by Dayton and Faris)
    • "Scar Tissue" has the band going through a desert (very similar to the one in the "Give It Away" video) with the band bruised and injured, representing their revival. This was directed by Sednaoui, who had also directed "Give It Away.”
  • Country Matters: Most notably in "Get On Top,” with this extremely profound lyric:
    Gorilla! Cunt-illa! Salmon-D and Salmonella!
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: The Chilis' cover of "Higher Ground" can be interpreted more as a tribute to funk and Stevie Wonder, especially with Anthony's added rap near the end.
  • Cover Version: "Higher Ground," "They're Red Hot," "Love Rollercoaster," "Search And Destroy," "Fire," "Castles Made Of Sand," and "Subterranean Homesick Blues," among others.
    • Cover Album: To celebrate being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, they released the aptly titled Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Covers EP, consisting of six previously released covers of other artists who were in the Hall themselves.
  • Disability Superpower: John Frusciante's famous minimalist approach to guitar was mostly born out of his drug abuse, which both left him without a guitar for years and did significant damage to his arms and hands.
    • Anthony's odd dance moves are a result of him and Flea trying to jump off a rooftop into a nearby swimming pool, with Anthony missing and breaking his back.
  • Darker and Edgier: To some extent, One Hot Minute, as it featured a heavier sound and darker lyrics compared with their previous albums.
  • Dreadful Musician: Anthony, self-admittedly so. It took him close to 10 years to sing in tune, and he's notably the only member in a band of virtuosos that doesn't play an instrument.
    • Sadly, John whilst in the midst of his heroin addiction. It's unknown to what extent, given how generally experimental his material was at the time, but needless to say, his singing voice suffered, he barely tuned his guitars, and was so far gone that he basically had to re-learn his instument when he re-joined the band.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: the Animated Music Video for "Californication"
  • Deranged Animation: "Sick Love", packed with disturbing and gross visuals.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Anthony's family split up when he was very young, and he spent a lot of his youth with his drug-dealing (and using), womanizing dad, who introduced him to both hard drugs and sex at an extremely inappropriate age. His biography recounts several instances of girls his dad brought home (as well as a celebrity friend) doing sexual things to a barely-teenaged Anthony.
    • Flea's family moved from Australia, only to promptly break up when his mother got together with his stepdad, a deranged, alcoholic jazz musician who both inspired and terrified young Flea. To cope with this, he began experimenting with drugs basically as soon as he became a teenager.
    • John's family also broke up, and while he's been really tight-lipped about his youth, it is known that he at one point became so obsessed with music that he was virtually friendless, preferring (by his own admission) to practice guitar instead of interacting socially. Then he became a superstar while barely a day over twenty, cracked under the pressure and spent the majority of his 20s dealing with a horrific heroin habit.
  • Digital Piracy Is Okay: Flea lampshades this in this performance of "Desecration Smile,” where he says "this song is brand-new, so be sure to bootleg it and put it on the Internet.” Funnily enough, this performance was done two years before the song was released on Stadium Arcadium, before the band completely changed the chorus and bridge.
    • Both Flea and Dave Navarro were ok with Circle Of The Noose leaking and publicly posted about it. Neither had heard it in years, it being mired in Warner's vaults with no consideration of release.
  • Distinct Double Album: Stadium Arcadium. Also, Live in Hyde Park.
    • They had enough material to make I'm With You a double album as well. However, they opted instead to release a single album with a couple of B-side tracks every month.
  • Double X: Quixoticelixer from the iTunes bonus tracks.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The EMI era is full of this compared to the band's best known songs.
    • The reverse is true for fans who got into the band back in the EMI period - the modern day Peppers are completely weird compared to their familiar original incarnation.
  • Echoing Acoustics: By the Way was mostly produced by Frusciante, who is a big fan of layering vocals and synthesizers. The acoustics overrode the bass on most of the songs, especially on "Minor Thing" and "Warm Tape,” which is part of the reason Flea almost left the band at this time.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Midnight" from By the Way.
  • Epic Rocking: "Sir Psycho Sexy," "Turn it Again," and "Venice Queen.” Also "In Love Dying" from the I'm With You B-sides.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Anthony and Flea, as well the Original Members, Jack Irons and Hillel Slovak.
  • Evolving Music: From Punk Rock to Funk Rock to Metal to just general Alternative Rock.
  • Explicit Content: Stadium Arcadium and I'm With You are the only two RHCP albums to not be labeled as such.
    • Kiedis once said, in response to whether he was okay with the albums being labeled as such, "It doesn't bother me. Our lyrics are very explicit, whether it's about sex or friendship or love for life in general."
  • Fading into the Next Song: Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a seamless album. Their others... not as much.
    • BSSM does play with this near the end. "Sir Psycho Sexy" was supposed to be (and considered by most fans to be) the final track in the album. However, the band decided to shoehorn a cover of "They're Red Hot" by Robert Johnson at the very end. Since there was no way to combine the tracks perfectly, the Chilis decided to record the latter outside, near a highway. The former song, then, fades out to the sound of the side of a highway, where the latter song picks up.
    • This is done on One Hot Minute where "Walkabout" goes into "Tearjerker.”
  • Falling Bass: In "By the Way" and "Stadium Arcadium,” Flea's bass disappears in the end during John's chord Fade Out.
  • Free-Handed Performer: Anthony Kiedis, though he had formation in guitar and drums, has rarely played any instrument in the discography of the band. Outside of being known as a hand-free energetic singer on stage, he eventually played bass during an encore performance of the band in 2016.
  • Functional Addict: Averted, with tragic results. Anthony's book laments that Hillel Slovak's death was due to the false impression that he was this, since Kiedis' own drug issues were more "out in the open", compared to Slovak's more private suffering.
  • Four More Measures: Anthony does this a lot live. There's one instance during this performance of "21st Century" where he begins the bridge before Flea and John have played their four intro measures; he then tries cutting back into the verses, before John shuts him up with a shake of the head.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: John Frusciante during the Blood Sugar Sex Magik era. He grew notoriously resentful of the band's popularity and butted heads with the rest of the band, almost fighting Kiedis at several times, before leaving.
    • Jack Sherman was a more classic example of this. To begin with, they only hired him because Hillel Slovak temporarily went off doing his own thing, and his straight-laced, all-business personality really clashed with the very young Chili Peppers.
  • Funk: A huge stylistic influence on the band's sound. Their second album, Freaky Styley, was even produced by George Clinton (of Parliament-Funkadelic fame). The Red Hot Chili Peppers are widely considered one of the most notable examples of the Funk Rock genre.
    • The funkiness of their sound varies between albums, however. Their first six albums are funkier than the ones that came after, with Freaky Styley being the funkiest one of them all; some songs on it are more straightforward Funk than they are Funk Rock. On Californication, they would start to alternate between Funk Rock and a more conventional Alternative Rock sound, sometimes within the same song (the opening track "Around the World" showcases this best). By the Way largely does away with the funk, with only three songs from it being Funk Rock and Alternative Rock hybrids (those being the title track, "Can't Stop," and "Throw Away Your Television"). Stadium Arcadium returns to balancing both sounds the way Californication did, and even includes a song that wouldn't sound out-of-place on Freaky Styley, with "Hump de Bump," while another song sounds like it came straight out of 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik," with "Warlocks." Their next two albums would keep this sort of balance. Unlimited Love is their funkiest album since Californication, and includes the Freaky Styley-like songs "Aquatic Mouth Dance" and "Poster Child."
  • 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
  • Garfunkel: While Chad is considered a great drummer, he's the least influential of the band (Anthony writes the lyrics, Flea and John Frusciante write the music, Chad just plays).
    • It should be noted, though, that Chad is highly regarded in drummer circles. He's also liked for being down to earth and for revealing new RHCP information early, even when he not's supposed to.
    • Chad's somewhat more taciturn personality compared to the rest of the band has arguably been important to the band's continued existence. Anthony Kiedis notes in his autobiography Chad being the glue that held them together when things got rough.
      • Chad himself has said a good drummer compliments the rest of the band, and doesn't blaze new trails for himself.
  • Genre-Busting: You'll never see a better illustrated example than the music video for "Dani California"
  • German Expressionism: The video for "Otherside" is designed to resemble The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which Flea had caught on television late one night.
  • Giant Woman: The cover for Mother's Milk has the band in the arms of a naked one. Her breast is censored by a rose, though one poster removes it (to the model's chagrin).
  • Give Away the Bride: From "Hard to Concentrate:”
    Will you agree to take this man into your world?
    And now we are as one...
    All I want is for you to be happy
    And take this woman and make you my family
    Finally you have found someone perfect
    Finally you have found yourself
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: At the notorious Woodstock 1999, Jimi Hendrix's sister approached the band and asked them to do a cover of one of her brother's songs. The band decided to play the cover after performing "Under the Bridge,” during which they handed out lit candles to the audience as a symbol of peace. As it turned out, the song they had chosen to cover was "Fire," unaware of how tense the audience was. All hell broke loose.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "Suck My Kiss.”
    • And the version of "Give It Away" that appears in The Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Kancelled.”
    • The lyric from "Tell Me Baby,” "Chitty chitty baby when your nose is in the nitty-gritty/Life could be a little sweet but life could be a little shitty" is rapped so fast that it's difficult to catch the swear word at the end. However, on some radio versions of the song, "shitty" is somehow replaced with "kitty" using an audio mixer.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Anthony once ended a show by saying "konichiwa" (Japanese for "hello")
  • Greatest Hits Album: Two: What Hits?!, the biggest hits of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' EMI years (which were not noted for being much of a success, hence the Sarcastic Title) and Greatest Hits, a proper hits album featuring their Warner years released a decade later. Both include a song of the other phase ("Under the Bridge" and "Higher Ground,” respectively).
    • There are a number of compilations which have 10 tracks that also appear on What Hits!?. EMI licensed these tracks to various budget labels for unknown reasons. They aren't considered canon.
      • The song "Show Me Your Soul,” which had only appeared in Pretty Woman beforehand, was featured in What Hits!?. It gained mild popularity following its release, helped by how the target audience of that movie generally wasn't into funk so it wasn't that noticed at the time.
  • Grief Song: "Knock Me Down" and "My Lovely Man" are inspired by guitarist Hillel Slovak's death.
    • "This is the Place,” "Soul to Squeeze,” "Dosed,” and other songs also referenced Hillel in the lyrics.
    • From One Hot Minute: "Tearjerker" is this for Kurt Cobain, and "Transcending" is this for River Phoenix.
    • "Death of a Martian" is about the death of Flea's dog, Martian.
    • "Brendan's Death Song" is about the death of Brendan Mullen.
    • "Joe" (a B-side to "Desecration Smile") is about the late Joe Strummer.
    • Gloria Scott, a long-time friend of the band and the woman accredited for aiding Anthony's sobriety, had "Venice Queen" written about her. The title is a reference to the fact that she was planning to buy a flat in Venice Beach before she died.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: The band's members onstage hugging and kissing all of which is done while they're in advanced stages of undress
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Anthony and Flea.
    • Hillel was this for both Anthony and Flea, before his tragic death.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Anthony, especially during his earlier days. Granted, he was able to hit approximate notes and work extensively toward recording melodic songs (especially "Under the Bridge,” which took him hundreds of takes to semi-perfect). However, his live performances suffered in quality, even sometimes to the present day. He even stated that he never took singing seriously until Californication, when he hired a vocal coach and rigorously trained.
  • Hopeless War: "Easily" from Californication.
    The story of a woman on the morning of a war
    Remind me, if you will, exactly what we're fighting for...
    Throw me to the woods because there's order in the pack
    Throw me to the sky because I know I'm coming back
  • Horrible Hollywood: "Californication" practically defines this trope.
    • "Tell Me Baby" also counts; it's about how people get swept under the rug in Hollywood's mad race to choose up-and-coming starlets and musicians.
    • "Sick Love" has shades of this as well, especially the video.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In an interview about Josh joining the band, Anthony said auditioning doesn't work for them, to which Chad agrees. Chad joined the band through auditions.
    • During part of the Getaway tour, Josh got annoyed with audience members filming the concerst on their phones instead of having fun. During one performance of Californication, rather than playing his solo Josh took out his phone and pretended to film the audience.
  • I Am the Band: Arguably, Anthony. Flea plays a side band known as Atoms for Peace, Chad drums for a band named Chickenfoot, Josh has performed with varying artists, and Frusciante has released and continues to release many solo albums. However, Anthony is solely known for his work in RHCP and he and Flea have consistently been in the band since its inception; not counting, however, the few months Anthony was fired early on in the band's history due to his drug addiction. Still, Anthony is the more recognized face of RHCP.
  • I Call It "Vera": Josh names his guitars.
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: "Snow ((Hey Oh))" from Stadium Arcadium
    Come to decide that the things that I tried
    Were in my life just to get high on
    When I sit alone, come get a little known
    But I need more than myself this time
  • 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.
  • Immune to Drugs: When Kiedis was sent to the hospital for injuring his arm after a car accident, he needed seven doses of morphine before the pain could be somewhat alleviated. Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a normal 150-pound person would be killed from that kind of dose. A lifetime of drug abuse didn't really help him.
    • John Frusciante, though with a dark turn. The guy survived lethal overdoses no less than five times, but was left with a completely ravaged body.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "Shallow Be Thy Game.”
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Some of the older songs featuring Kiedis' rapping can be hard to understand.
    • Arguably, his lyrics have gotten even more incomprehensible in recent years, primarily because Kiedis intends them to mean something. Older songs were pretty much explicitly about sex, friendship or the funk. His more recent lyrics use a lot of poetic lyrics about the effects of drug use, romance and the environment. The lyric to Look Around, for instance, seems to be a collection of random phrases, but has a meaning.
  • Inherited Illiteracy Title: Played with in "Fat Dance,” a Californication b-side. The song is about getting into a fat dance with a girl... before the bridge reveals that the song is about Anthony's ex-girlfriend, Yohanna Logan, who is anything but fat. Frusciante stated in an interview that the song was originally spelled "Phat Dance,” which stands for Pretty Hot And Tempting, before the spelling got changed for some reason.
  • Instrumentals: "Pretty Little Ditty." Which also came straight from the first jam the band did with John.
  • Intercourse with You: Most of their songs are about this in one way or another.
    • Surprisingly averted on "Californication,” which actually has more to do with cultural homogenization.
    • Nearly every song on Blood Sugar Sex Magik, but their eight-minute "Sir Psycho Sexy" is arguably this taken up to eleven. Averted with that album's "Give It Away,” which is actually about giving away possessions. Well... semi-averted anyway.
    • Pretty much averted on every album made after 1991. A Rolling Stone Magazine critic lampshaded the fact that the guy who used to sing "I want to party on your pussy" now sings "All I want is for you to be happy
      • Songs such as "C'mon Girl" do deal with sex, but in a more mature form.
  • Keet: Anthony and Flea. Especially Flea, who literally got his nickname because he couldn't sit still. Even in his sixties, he hasn't really slowed down.
    • John was every bit as hyper as Flea during his first year or so, but became much more low-key as he became increasingly unhappy and reliant on substances.
  • Kids Rock: "Aeroplane" has a choir of children at the end (one of whom is Flea's daughter).
    • "We Believe" has children singing and harmonizing the final chorus. "Open/Close" does the same thing at the very end.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: Flea has "LOVE" etched onto the knuckles of his right hand. This is actually mentioned in the lyrics of "Charlie:”
    Everybody do the twist
    Get the message off Flea's fists
  • Lampshade Hanging: What Hits!? was a Greatest Hits Album collecting songs that weren't quite hits.
    • EMI knew this, which is why they licensed the band's then biggest hit "Under The Bridge" from Warner Bros. "Behind The Sun" was released as a single to promote What Hits?! and was a respectable hit at the time, thanks to cashing in on the popularity of the band's Blood Sugar Sex Magik album.
  • Large Ham: Both Anthony, who often gets carried away in his singing, and Flea, who seemingly can't stand still and is also always mugging.
    • John, during the Mother's Milk era definitely counted, though he sort of lost that edge as he got closer to leaving the band.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Here's an experiment: go up to someone who has never heard John sing, have them close their eyes, and play this cover of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer.” Guarantee that they will assume that the singer is a girl.
    • Josh too. His backing vocals on "Hanalei" (the You and I do more than merely survive part) are absolutely feminine-sounding.
    • Hillel Slovak was a tall, very skinny curly-haired guy with a really deep, calm voice.
  • Last Note Hilarity: "Lovin' And Touchin',” from Freaky Styley, has a poignant sound and, well, loving and touching lyrics. The final few seconds has one of the band members snickering.
  • Lead Bassist: Flea is considered a leading pioneer of his craft. He's also arguably the most famous member of the band, with his memorable nickname, distinctive appearance, and acting roles doing him great service. He's also technically the only continuous member of the band, since vocalist Anthony Kiedis was fired for at least a month during the 80s.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The video for "Desecration Smile,” which features the four band members just singing the song and fooling around.
  • Lighter and Softer: By The Way (and the subsequent albums, depending on whom you ask) is often seen as this by hardcore fans.
    • By The Way is intentionally so. Rick Rubin suggested to the band that they play down the punk and funk and focus on their poppier elements. At the time, some of the older fans thought that the band had abandoned funk music, but it was apparent this was not the case for Stadium Arcadium.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Freaky Styley.” It is set to a groovy, funky beat with just two lyrics repeated through the three-and-a-half minute song (its original long version clocks in at just under nine minutes): "Fuck 'em just to see the look on their face" and "Say it out loud/I'm Freaky Styley and I'm proud!"
    • "Gong Li,” a B-side to "Scar Tissue,” has three long, subdued, repeating guitar-bass jams interpolated with just a few lyrics.
  • Listing Cities: "Around the World.” The song also lists states and countries, in case the listeners did not take Geography 101 in high school.
    • "Dani California" lists states that "Dani,” the main character, lived in.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "If You Have to Ask" from BSSM 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."
    • The song was released at a time when RHCP felt ostracized for being one of the few white bands still performing Funk Rock, which was solely considered a "black" form of music. This sentiment was even reflected in "Funky Crime" on The Uplift Mofo Party Plan.
  • Live Album: The band had the video "Psychedelic Sexfunk Live From Heaven" (Mother's Milk tour) and the DVDs "Off The Map" (Californication Tour) and Live at Slane Castle (Greatest Hits Tour). They also had the Live in Hyde Park CD (Greatest Hits Tour) although this was a compilation of tracks from 3 nights. Numerous live tracks of theirs have been released as b-sides and as bonus tracks as well.
  • Long-Runner Line-up/Revolving Door Band: As listed above, lots of guitarists and drummers went by the band. But still the percussion has been stable ever since Chad joined, and aside Dave Navarro was the only guitarist that didn't last over a decade afterwards - to wit, the lineups are Kiedis-Frusciante-Flea-Smith from 1988-1992, 1997-2007, and since 2019; and Kiedis-Klingoffer-Flea-Smith from 2007 until Frusciante returned 12 years later.
  • Loony Fan: The taxi driver from the "By the Way" video, who abducts Anthony and is implied to do the same to Chad in the end. He appears again in "Universally Speaking" trying to get to Tony to return a book he left in his cab, but more as a nuisance this time.
  • Loudness War: The Californication album's shitty mastering got even non-audiophile consumers to complain.
    • Even the ballad "Scar Tissue" was downright deafening.
    • What makes the case of this album particularly egregious is that even the vinyl mix was ruined - apparently, it was run through a digital dynamic range processor before being mastered for vinyl, which is usually mixed from analogue sources. The CDs of future RHCP albums were also brickwalled, but the vinyl mix of at least Stadium Arcadium was made from a pristine analogue mix by audiophile favourite Steve Hoffman that basically cancelled out all the CD version's flaws. With Californication, listeners don't have that option with any of the commercially available versions, so the whole thing is basically ruined. The mastering however is still better on vinyl than on CD, due to the fact that the CD version was given additional compression compared to the vinyl version.
      • There is, however, an unmastered version making the rounds on the Internets of an earlier version of the album that does not have the clipping problems, although includes a few alternate versions and some outtakes too. This is one of those cases where the album can basically only be truly appreciated through piracy.
    • It's worth noting that One Hot Minute was pretty loud too, especially for its day. Not Californication levels of awful though.
  • Love Redeems: The most potent example is probably "Wet Sand.” Flea stated in an interview that it's about the dark side of love and its redeeming qualities.
    My sunny side has up and died, I'm betting then when we collide
    The universe will shift into a low
    The travesties that we have seen are treating me like Benzedrine
    Automatic laughter from abroad...
    You don't form in the Wet Sand, you don't form at all
    You don't form in the Wet Sand, I do
    * Lyric Swap: The first three choruses of "Otherside" have Anthony singing "Slit my throat, it's all I ever-" before cutting himself off. In the final chorus, John finishes the sentence: "Slit my throat, it's all I ever had
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Your Eyes Girl,” on I'm Beside You, opens with Flea yelling, "Oh... FUCK! SHIT!" before beginning the song. It's notable for being the only song on the album with a swear word in it, caJusing it to receive an Explicit Content label for a single transgression.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Lots of songs. Especially the ones on I'm Beside You; "In Love Dying,” for example, is a very gentle and calming song, with this particularly violent chorus:
    My girl, she shoots down the baddest of guys
    She knows that they want me dead
    She fires up the starry night
    And fills them so full, so full of lead
  • Lyrical Shoehorn: Quite a few songs have very nonsensical lyrics. "Warlocks,” for example, makes sense when paired with the funky music, because it's about the band's friends and legacy. On paper, however, the lyrics don't really make sense.
    Warlocks in wonderland
    I got a megatropolis in my hand
    With a happy ending that's made of sand
    And a little bit of lovin', that's all I plan
  • Lyrical Tic: Anthony's pronunciation of the word girl. He also seems to use a lot of "yeah"s, "oh"s, "hey"s, and references to California.
  • Magick: for some reason spelled this way on Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
  • Meaningful Funeral: While these songs are upbeat than most of this genre, "Venice Queen" and "Brendan's Death Song" are both about dead friends. The latter's music video even features a funeral march, while the former is more of a To Absent Friends.
  • Mellow Fellow: Hillel Slovak.
  • Metal Scream: "Around the World" has one of these in the intro, and another partway through the song.
    • There are a few in "Give It Away" as well.
    • "Wet Sand" is a surprising one. The song is soft, until the ending bridge, when Kiedis lets off a pent-up scream with an all-out guitar solo from Frusciante.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: I'm With You features a plain white background with a fly sitting on top of a pill. Even the band doesn't know about the meaning behind it.
  • Mood Whiplash: Some of their albums are sequenced in a way that causes this. An example would be how "Under the Bridge" is immediately followed by "Naked In The Rain.”
    • "Grand Pappy Du Plenty,” a melancholic instrumental that appears at the end of their first album is definitely this, ESPECIALLY as it comes after 9 tracks of funk rap and hardcore punk. The song was a rare example of Flea's sensitive side, and an obvious indication that he did get on with Jack Sherman and Andy Gill at some point.
    • "One Big Mob" on One Hot Minute has hardcore rap verses surrounding a soft three-minute bridge, which incorporates a recording of Dave Navarro's young brother crying in his crib.
  • Mad Artist: John Frusciante is a classic example, going from child prodigy, to a starving drug addict, to a bona-fide musical Jesus figure. And musically, his solo output is pretty far into the experimental spectrum. Going by interviews from people who know him, he's definitely got the "mad genius" vibe.
  • Morality Ballad: "Open/Close" on I'm Beside You takes the cake:
    It's not about religion and the God, sitting in a chair in the sky,
    With a punishing hand, no...
    It's about, heaven in your hearts!
    Now, when can we start...?
  • Motor Mouth: Anthony used to be able to rap quite fast up until Magik. Afterwards he started to de-emphasize rapping in favour of singing. (Or as a joke goes, he used to mostly rap and sometimes sing, but now he mostly sings and sometimes raps.)
    • Anthony doesn't like playing rap-heavy songs like "Storm In A Teacup" live, but he still raps "Give It Away" due to its popularity.
      • Anthony actually does this on "By The Way" and "Tell Me Baby,” but people don't always notice because there is such a pop sheen to them.

     Tropes N-Z 
  • New Sound Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik perfected their funk-rock fusion. Californication unveiled RHCP v2.0, which became more and more of a melodic rock band than a pure funk-rock band.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted by Flea, being one of the most popular bassists of the modern day.
    • In fact, Flea has been known to get upset if his bass-playing is not the center of attention - he almost left the band in the By The Way period because John Frusciante's layers of guitar, backing vocals and electronics were pushing Flea's bass into the background (hence the reason for songs like "By The Way,” "Can't Stop" and "Throw Away Your Television").
  • The Not-Remix: Their cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Fire" was originally released as the B-Side to 'Fight Like A Brave', then a new and more widely known mix was done for The Abbey Road EP (and also appeared on Mother's Milk). The main difference is the later mix has phasing added to the intro and the overall mix is muddier.
    • "Knock Me Down" has two distinct mixes, the original, longer mix featuring vocals from both John and Anthony, and the more famous, shortened down version which heavily increased John's vocal presence.
    • "Behind The Sun (Ben Grosse Mix)", as appears on Out In L.A. is very nearly identical to the LP version, with slightly more upfront vocals.
    • The single mixes of "Can't Stop" and "Universally Speaking" are also this, with slightly more dynamic mixes than the LP.
    • The remaster of Mother's Milk was remixed from the multitracks to create a strikingly better sounding mix than the original album, which had been the victim of heavy compression and reverb, things which made the original mix sound very dated (partly because of Michael Beinhorn's production, and partly to fit the long album on vinyl). Thanks to the additional space on a CD, they also reinstated the uncut mix of "Pretty Little Ditty" which is about twice as long, and added the "Knock Me Down" and "Sexy Mexican Maid" long mixes as bonus tracks. Indeed, the album is only missing the long version of "Taste The Pain" (which was released on the "Say Anything" soundtrack) for fans to recreate the unedited original album the band intended.
  • Only Sane Man: Chad Smith is this to the classic line-up.
    • John Frusciante, post-reunion counts to some degree, being far more serious compared to Flea and Anthony.
  • Ode to Sobriety: "Knock Me Down,” "Under The Bridge,” "Otherside" and "Snow" are type 3.
  • Oh, Crap!: Anthony, who used to really get around in the early years of the band, often hooked up with girls who came backstage after shows. One of these girls was a beautiful Catholic girl "with eyes like Marilyn Monroe," who Anthony took back to his hotel and slept with. The morning after, she revealed to him that her father was the chief of police for the state they were in and that she was a 14-year-old schoolgirl who had a crush on him. Anthony, who was internally freaking out that he'd unknowingly slept with a minor, was very calm and sent her back on a bus after telling her she should learn a few things about love and relationships. The song Catholic School Girls Rule is dedicated to her, and the incident was documented in his autobiography Scar Tissue.
  • Once a Season: Or (nearly) once an album: an ode to deceased guitar player Hillel Slovak ("Knock Me Down" from Mother's Milk; "My Lovely Man" from Blood Sugar Sex Magik; "Bob" from One Hot Minute B-sides; "Savior" from Californication; "This is the Place" from By the Way; "Open/Close" from I'm Beside You; "Feasting on the Flowers" from The Getaway).
  • Once More, with Clarity: The video for "Otherside."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Flea (True fans know his name is Michael Balzary).
  • Parental Incest: The particularly creepy "Mommy, Where's Daddy?" from their first album. Yes, Flea is the little girl in the song.
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Fight Like a Brave.” It was written right after Anthony quit using drugs for 60 days.
    • Also "Can't Stop:”
    Can't stop the spirits when they need you
    This life is more than just a read-through
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Flea is only 5'6", but he's a dominating presence on stage and in the band.
    • Anthony at 5'8" is somewhat shorter than average as well, and has a powerhouse frontman personality.
  • Porn Stache: Anthony seems to grow one every time a new guitarist is recruited, but it's most prominent in the I'm With You era. It's awesome.
  • Precision F-Strike: A few others, such as "Special Secret Song Inside" (two "fucks,” both in the Biblical sense) and "Aeroplane" (which has a 'motherfucker' right in the chorus).
    • Also "This is the Place" on By the Way, the only song on the album with the f-word:
    I am a misfit, I'm born with all of it
    The fucking ultimate of love inside the atom split
  • Protest Song: "Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky" is about the US government's mistreatment of Native Americans. (Kiedis himself has Native American ancestry.)
    • As is "American Ghost Dance.”
    • "Green Heaven" counts. It is against global pollution and government corruption: Anthony even calls the president (Ronald Reagan at the time) a whore.
  • Punny Name: Name of their 7th studio album, Californication.
    • Rolling Sly Stone, which is a combination of Rolling Stone(s), and Sly Stone.
  • Rap Rock: Much more so in their earlier days. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message" was a profound influence on Kiedis' songwriting.
    • Chris Rock even said that the first time he heard the Peppers live was when he went to a concert, expecting to listen to Flash. He went to the wrong venue, however, but he noted that the Red Hots were just as good as Flash. Since then, he has been both a longtime friend and fan of the band.
  • Rearrange the Song: Since around the By the Way Tour, "Give it Away" has been performed with a part of Public Enemy's "You're Gonna Get Yours" in the intro.
    • "Dosed" and "Behind the Sun" are two album songs the Chilis have never completely performed live, despite having released them as singles.
      • The former is admittedly difficult to perform, due to the fact that it utilizes four guitars; Josh has gotten around that live, playing each guitar part individually and looping them for a minute, but never playing the entire song.
      • A part of the latter has been performed in a few "Give it Away" outro jams, but without the sitar effect.
    • "Breaking the Girl" has been performed less than twenty times over the past 23 years. During the bridge, Chad uses a cowbell to incompletely mimic the percussion noises on the recording.
  • Record Producer: Rick Rubin, the long runner.
    • In fact, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Stadium Arcadium, and a variety of songs were even recorded in Rubin's house, "The Mansion.” John Frusciante claims that during the Magik sessions, the band felt that the house was haunted, and they are not the only band to have recorded at "The Mansion" and said that afterwards. John didn't mind, but Chad was so unnerved that he refused to live in the mansion with the band, going back home whenever a day's session was finished.
    • However, The Getaway was produced by Danger Mouse instead: the first time in 25 years that Rick was not the producer.
  • Recurring Character: "Dani,” a character referred to in the lyrics of three of the band's post-1999 songs (coincidentally, all of them were hits for the band): "Californication,” "By the Way" (where she is first mentioned by name) and the aptly titled "Dani California,” which focuses on her.
  • Recycled Lyrics:
    • Anthony co-wrote "What It Is" with Nina Hagen, and a lot of the lyrics from the song are featured in his earliest songs.
      • The lines Love all your brothers and love all your sisters and With the power of it we are about to astound are featured in "The Brother's Cup."
      • The line The smile of a dolphin is a built in feature is used in the song "Green Heaven."
    • The band performed a song called "Set It Straight" in a movie called Tough Guys in 1985. Although an original song, it never appeared on record, and there was not even a soundtrack album for the movie. Thus the only place it can be heard is that movie. However, they did recycle the chorus line "Set It Straight forever, better late than never" into "Fight Like A Brave,” as "It's better late then never to set, ah set it straight.”
    • When "Higher Ground" was released as a single in 1989, remixes were made. Anthony gave the remixers some extra raps to use to make the remixes more interesting. One of them didn't get used in the song, but did appear as a short 11 second B side called "Politician (Mini Rap).” It solely consists of Anthony rapping the line "Not another motherfuckin politician doin' nothing but something for his own ambition,” which they reused in "The Power Of Equality" two years later.
    • Parts of the melody of "Rivers Of Avalon" was used in "This Is The Place,” which is the main reason that "Rivers Of Avalon" was a B-Side. The same goes for "Time,” parts of which were recycled for "By The Way.”
    • The bridge melody for the unreleased By The Way sessions song "Goldmine" was used for "I Could Die For You,” which is part of the reason why "Goldmine" has never been released (the other reason being that it was unfinished).
  • Recycled Soundtrack: "In Love Dying" has a near-identical bass line and drum groove to the Californication outtake "Andaman And Nicobar". As said outtake leaked a few years after "In Love Dying" was released, many fans noticed the similarity. It is likely Flea and Chad played with the original jam over time.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: From the California Duology, "Dani California"'s red to "Californication"'s blue. "Dani California" is a hot-blooded recount of Dani's trek to California before getting shot, while "Californication" is a solemn analysis of the corruption within Hollywood and the greater state of California.
  • Religion Rant Song: "Shallow Be Thy Game", a direct Take That! towards fundamentalist religion.
    I was not created in the likeness of a fraud
    Your hell is something scary, I prefer a loving god
    We are not the center of this funny universe
    And what is worse I do not serve in fear of such a curse
  • Replacement Goldfish: Jack Sherman, who played on their self-titled album. Kiedis' book makes it crystal clear that the two didn't mesh, and that they only hired whoever was the best while Hillel was off with What Is This.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Dawn Alane, the woman on the cover of Mother's Milk. The band at this time was very overtly sexual (Chad once practically assaulted a female interviewer on live TV), so she was extremely uncomfortable with baring her chest for the camera. This was especially so after she discovered that the record label used her picture without informing her, and Flea and Chad had written extremely inappropriate things on promotional posters of her with her breasts exposed. She sued the band and settled for fifty thousand dollars. Anthony even said, "I couldn't understand why we couldn't have found a model who was happy to have her tits on a cover."
  • Remaster: There's a completely different version of "Purple Stain" recorded in 1998. It bears many similarities to the album version; however the demo version had its chorus overhauled, it has a minute-long jam in the middle that was later cut, and the lyric Android loves got John Frusciante is repeated much more often.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Defied; "The Greeting Song" was nearly picked up by Chevrolet because of its lyrics, but Anthony decided not to give the company the rights to the song by way of creator backlash.
  • Revolving Door Band: As of this writing, the band has had three drummers and seven guitarists, with Anthony and Flea being the only members left from its inception.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Hillel and Flea. John and Josh don't get that into their music, but they have broken their fair share of strings.
    • Both have had temper tantrums with their equipment on stage, however. Josh, in fact, broke his foot in Oakland, California when he kicked an amp after getting angry with the tone of his guitar solo during the song "Otherside.” He later apologized on stage for it, though.
  • Sampling: "Punk Rock Classic" interpolates an extremely twisted version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N Roses at the end of it as a parody of the implication that hair metal bands paid MTV off to play them. These days, Guns N Roses are so well respected, many might not even realise the point behind that.
    • "Give it Away" interpolates Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" at the end of it. An intentional Shout-Out on Frusciante's behalf.
    • Subverted when it seems as though "Dani California" samples Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane" at the end. "Dani California" is tuned a half step higher than the latter, and Tom Petty didn't really care whether or not the song was intentionally copied or not.
    • Crazy Town's megahit "Butterfly,” released in 2000, samples a part of RHCP's "Pretty Little Ditty" from Mother's Milk throughout the entire song. It became much more popular; it was certified Gold in the US and Platinum in at least three other countries, while "Pretty Little Ditty" was never released as a single.
  • Scatting: On a few occasions. Notably the final chorus of "Around the World:”
    I know, I know, for sure
    Ding dang dong dong ding dang dong dong ding dang
    I know, I know, it's true
    Ding dang dong dong ding dang dong dong ding dang
    • Anthony also does this when he forgets the lyrics of his own songs live (which happens a lot).
  • Self-Deprecation: The video for "Dani California" features the band singing the song dressed as humorous, but perfectly accurate parodies of rock acts from the 50s (Elvis) up until just prior to the modern day (Nirvana), ending with themselves dressed in their own typical concert attire, their logo hanging prominently in the background.
  • Sequel Song: As mentioned above, "By the Way" and "Dani California" are spiritual sequels to "Calfornication,” all describing the same girl, Dani.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Though these aren't their only lyrical tropes, a rather large number of their songs, especially in The '80s and The '90s, are about at least one of the three.
  • Sex God: Anthony portrayed himself as such in his earlier songs. Notably in "Sir Psycho Sexy,” and "Out in L.A.,” where he inserted himself under the pseudonym Antwaan the Swan. From "Out in L.A."
    Antwaan the Swan, from the pretty fish pond
    Was a bad mother jumper, you could tell he was strong
    He wore a cold paisley jacket and a hellified hat
    And between his legs was a cocksucking lass
    He threw a hundred women up against the wall
    And he swore to fear that he'd fuck 'em all
    By the time he got to ninety nine, he had to stop
    Because that's when he thought that he heard a fault
  • Sexy Packaging:
    • The cover of Mother's Milk depicts the Peppers in the arms of a giant naked woman with her nipples censored (one by a rose, and the other by Anthony providing a Scenery Censor).
    • The single cover of "If You Have to Ask" focuses around a female butt clothed in yellow underwear that leaves little to the imagination.
  • Short Title: "If" on Stadium Arcadium. It's also the shortest song on the album.
  • Shout-Out: The video for "Dani California" features the band dressing in the style of several other bands, and in some cases even doing an homage to one of the band's videos. Most blatant during the line "Gone too fast," when Kiedis is dressed like Kurt Cobain.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Subverted with "One Big Mob" and "Stretch,” which were originally one song that the band split into two and intended to follow each other on One Hot Minute. However, they removed "Stretch,” and faded the former to cover the link. The band eventually released a version of the latter on iTunes which includes some of the original link between the former and it at the start. However it still doesn't quite join up.
  • Singer Name Drop: Quite a few.
    • "Baby Appeal," a song from their debut album, is about how a friend's kid started dancing after Anthony played a tape of the Red Hots' music to him. It was more to mock the older crowd for denouncing their music as "trash," when the Chilis had a substantial cult following in colleges and high schools even in their earlier days.
    • In "Out in LA," the first song the Chilis wrote and recorded as a demo version, Kiedis wrote shout-outs to himself, Hillel, and Flea. When Hillel (and Irons) temporarily left the band in 1983 and was replaced by Jack Sherman, Kiedis had to change the line about Hillel (I can't leave you hangin' but my man Baby B/'cos he's smooth as a cat) to a cringeworthy line about Sherman (I can't leave you hanging but my man Shermzy/he swings the yang, he bangs the yang).
    • "Nevermind" was just a parody song about dissing music artists the Chilis actually admired.
    Nevermind the British bands!
    Nevermind the synthfunk bands!
    Nevermind the Wham Wham Band!
    Nevermind Duran Duran!
    • In the aforementioned odes to Hillel ("My Lovely Man," "Bob," "This is the Place," "Open/Close").
    • "Savior:”
    We are the Red Hots and we're lovin' up the love-me-nots
    • When John Frusciante returned to the band in 1998, Anthony wanted the Chilis to record a solo song Frusciante had created called "Living Above Hell.” John refused because he didn't want this solo work to conflict with that of the band's, so Anthony instead used the name of the song along with John's name in "This Velvet Glove:”
    John says to live above hell
    My will is well
    Python power straight from Monty
    Celluloid loves got a John Frusciante
    • "Readymade" has Anthony calling "Oh, clean it up, Johnny!" right before Frusciante does his awesome solo.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: They're usually pretty far on the idealistic side, as most of their songs have an underlying message of hope, compassion and/or simply having a good time. That said, there are moments where they veer more into the cynical end of the scale (particularly on the Darker and Edgier One Hot Minute). And even a few songs (such as "Californication") where they flirt with both ends.
  • Sanity Slippage: John Frusciante infamously descended into drug abuse and mental illness during the '90s. By 1994 he looked and sounded completely insane, though thankfully he recovered.
  • Solo Duet: "Get On Top" has Anthony screaming Get on top! in the background in addition to various other things.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: "Get Up And Jump.” (To wit, "something something you got a pumpkin in your pants.”)
    • Or "Give It Away:” "Something something something MAMA, something something something PAPA... GIVE IT AWAY GIVE IT AWAY GIVE IT AWAY NOW"
    • Just about every song prior to Mother's Milk, given quick rapping was more common than singing. The verses of "Fight Like a Brave" are particularly unintelligible.
    • Most people don't seem to understand the chorus of "Scar Tissue" besides "lonely view", if not the whole sentence.
  • The Something Song: "The Zephyr Song,” "The Greeting Song,” "Bicycle Song,” "Brendan's Death Song,” "Song That Made Us What We Are Today,” "Special Secret Song Inside" (renamed to its original Party On Your Pussy on Uplift Mofo remaster).
  • Song Style Shift: The Peppers are fond of this.
    • "Love Trilogy" is the very first one, even noted in the title. The first part of the song is a minimalistic bass-heavy reggae song that is slightly eerie. The second part transitions into a funk rock song. The song gets faster and faster until it reaches the third part which is a hardcore punk song, one of the fastest songs the band ever played. The song then proceeds to slow down before ending in a similar tone to how it started.
    • "By The Way" is a notable example. The band intended for the song to be a ballad describing a Los Angeles evening: a girl singing songs to her boyfriend and a night of partying. The hardcore rap verse and the song's popularity in the UK led fans to give it a different connotation. Even the music video, toward which the band had ambivalent feelings due to the epic car chase, gave the song a shift in meaning.
    • "Around the World.” The funky verses, the melodic choruses, and the distortion-heavy bridges do not have effective transitions between them.
      • "Can't Stop" has a funky verse and a kind of twee psychedelic chorus which takes a while to get used to if you are expecting it to be all funk.
      • On the reverse side of the coin, "Eskimo" has subdued verses and a very heavy chorus, as does the unreleased track "Fall Water.” "This Velvet Glove" also applies. "Emit Remmus" also has relatively soft verses (although huge amounts of feedback going through them) and a heavy chorus.
    • "Transcending" on One Hot Minute begins as a soft song for the first 3 1/2 minutes- the song progresses into a screamed metal song for the last 2 minutes.
      • In fact, a lot of songs from One Hot Minute fit this trope. "Warped,” "Deep Kick,” "One Big Mob,” and "One Hot Minute" all have ostentatious verses, followed by a melodic shift at some point in the song. On a symbolic level, this somewhat represents the conflict between the Red Hots' chill, funky music with Navarro's dark, psychedelic guitar-playing.
    • "Venice Queen.” The song literally fades out and goes quiet for a second before the second part of the song begins.
      • "Tell Me Baby" seems to have been written to appeal to both the band's ballad and funk fanbases, and although it was a big hit, many fans regard it as a mess, due to the way it sounds like Anthony is going from being a tough macho man to being a twee lover between the bridge and the chorus.
    • "Victorian Machinery" from I'm Beside You is definitely this. The verses sound like something out of One Hot Minute; the choruses sound like those from By the Way or Stadium Arcadium. In effect, the song has the Chilis straddling two musical personas that have defined their style to this day.
  • 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.”
    • "Stadium Arcadium" is analogous to one.
    Alone inside my forest room and it's storming
    I never thought I'd be in bloom, but this is where I start...
    The Stadium Arcadium, a mirror to the moon
    I'm forming and I'm warming, state of the art until the clouds come crashing
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Anthony displays this occasionally, especially in his lyrics.
    • This is incredibly obvious during the band's Carpool Karaoke appearance.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Flea and Anthony (in early songs such as "Mommy Where's Daddy"), John and Anthony, and Josh and Anthony, respectively.
    • Interestingly enough, Anthony was also the soprano to Hillel Slovak's gravel.
  • Southern Belle: .”..with a scarlet drawl," as mentioned in "Scar Tissue."
  • Special Guest:
    • The horn section featured on Freaky Styley included George Clinton and James Brown alumni Maceo Parker on sax and Fred Wesley on trombone. Freaky Styley itself was produced by George Clinton.
      • Funnily enough, Clinton was going through problems with his drug dealer during that time: in order to repay him, he let the dealer sing "Look at that turtle go, bro!" on the song "Yertle the Turtle.” The band loved this.
    • Flea even played the trumpet on tracks such as "Torture Me" and "Hump de Bump,” and he has played the trumpet live on many occasions. In fact, he initially learned the trumpet.
    • On Magik, the band's friend Pete Weiss played jaw harp on "Give It Away,” and mixing engineer Brendan O'Brien played the Mellotron on "Breaking the Girl" and "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.”
    • The Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López, a friend of Frusciante's who collaborated with him on a few of Frusciante's solo albums, played the solo in the song "Especially in Michigan" on Stadium Arcadium.
    • From the same album, "Warlocks" features clavinet by Billy Preston, in what would be one of his final recorded performances before his death later that year.
    • Ironically, Frusciante himself. He wrote the guitar riff for the song "Did I Let You Know" on I'm With You.
    • Elton John played a few piano chords for the song "Sick Love"
  • Spelling Song: "Venice Queen" has the band singing "G-L-O-R-I-A is love... my friend." Gloria Scott was a drug counselor for Anthony, and the song is a tribute to her.
  • Springtime for Hitler: The Saturday Night Live performance of "Under the Bridge". Despite the fact that John's guitar playing nearly derailed the song, it increased album sales and popularity for the band, which was the opposite of what he actually wanted.
    • John was in fact on heroin during the performance. This was about the time (early 1992) when John hated everything the band stood for - its direction, its popularity, Anthony's ego, etc. - and decided to play an "experimental" version of the song after Anthony kicked him during a previous performance of "Stone Cold Bush.” Anthony, who already struggled at singing that song, couldn't sing at the same tone as John's guitar, and nearly panicked on air in front of millions of people. John's backing vocals during the final bridge are particularly horrendous as well.
  • Starving Artist: John Frusciante, during the time he spent away from the band from 1992-1997. This interview recorded in 1994 is particularly difficult to watch; he has dark circles, yellow teeth, and is emaciated. He also seems absolutely pathetic. Thankfully, to this day, he lives healthily.
    • The whole band was understandably this during their first years around. According to Kiedis' book, one of their main gripes with Jack Sherman was that he wouldn't pitch in for Flea's bass strings, since they couldn't afford their gear on their own.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: "Knock Me Down" is sung by both Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante but the latter's vocals are the most audible ones of the two. John's distinctively high-pitched vocals played an important role in the band after he joined, and are very obvious in many of their songs. In fact, executive meddling meant that "Knock Me Down" was subjected to additional mixing to make John's vocals louder than Anthony's. The Original Long Version of the song features Anthony's voice louder than John's.
    • John used to sing slowed down partial covers of songs he liked live.
    • Josh occasionally sings/teases songs he likes during live performances.
    • "Pea" on One Hot Minute is sung entirely by Flea.
    • Chad's vocals are featured on the album versions of several songs, such as "Your Eyes Girl", "She's Only 18" and "I'll Be Your Domino" (a B-side). However, he doesn't usually have a microphone live, so naturally he won't be heard singing, even if he happens to be.
    • During the Getaway tour, Anthony's son Everly has sung live with the band a few times, notably when he and Tony sang "Dreams of a Samurai" and "Go Robot" together.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The video for "Behind The Sun,” made without the band's input to promote the What Hits?! Greatest Hits Album, features an animated dolphin frolicking happily in the water... until the final 30 seconds of the song, when the dolphin is killed by hunters. And all for a song that's serenely joyful in nature.
    • Most of that video is taken from the "Higher Ground" video (thus John and Chad appear) and the dolphins and everything were digitally added in. However, this fits the meaning of the song somewhat - if you see Behind The Sun as a sequel to their older song Green Heaven (and What It Is from which the dolphin lyrics in Heaven come) - as about how dolphins are intelligent creatures who run their society without hurting one another, which is contrasted with being an American citizen and suffering various injustices caused by corrupt politics - not even the peaceful dolphins can escape those.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: RHCP has quite a few of these, for example: "If,” "Porcelain,” "Someone,” "Teenager In Love,” "This Velvet Glove" (to an extent), "Dosed,” "This Is The Place,” "I Could Have Lied,” "Breaking the Girl,” "Under the Bridge,” and "Soul to Squeeze.”
    • However, the lyrics of the songs are often dissonant.
      • "This Is The Place,” "Soul to Squeeze,” and "Under the Bridge" describe Kiedis's drug addiction and a retrospective analysis of his past misdoings. Although "Under the Bridge" has a generally happier tone to it than the other two. (Frusciante admitted that this was intentional - when Kiedis showed him the lyrics, Frusciante claimed he mentally interpreted them as "sad,” and wrote a "happy" riff for contrast.)
      • "Breaking The Girl" and "I Could Have Lied" are about breaking up with girls, the latter being about Sinéad O'Connor, and the former being about Kiedis's father's womanizing tendencies.
      • "Porcelain" is about a girl Kiedis met at a shelter with a young child, whom he feels sympathy for.
      • "Dosed,” "This Is The Place" and "Soul to Squeeze" reference Hillel's death.
    • Their very first one would probably be "Lovin' and Touchin'" on Freaky Styley. Many fans thought it was a parody (from the sophomoric snickers at the end), but time has shown that it wasn't - it was Anthony showing his sensitive side which he kept hidden until "Under The Bridge.” "Grand Pappy Du Plenty,” "Lovin And Touchin,” "Behind the Sun,” "Knock Me Down,” a cover of Sly and the Family Stone's "If You Want Me to Stay,” and a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand" helped shift their musical style.
      • Although One Hot Minute is commonly regarded as a heavy album, it has "Aeroplane,” "My Friends,” "Walkabout,” "Tearjerker,” "Falling Into Grace" and the first part of "Transcending" to balance it out.
  • Surreal Music Video: "The Zephyr Song" takes the cake. It throws together a bunch of garishly colorful and looping shots of the band members performing, flowers blooming, whorls, hip-hop dancers, kaleidoscopic shots, birds, smoke, and sexy girls, in an attempt to mimic psychedelia. Granted, it's not true psychedelia - the video effects are too computerized - but it's still weird and beautiful.
    • There are actually quite a few of these. Other examples include "Give it Away", "Can't Stop", "Otherside", "Sick Love" and, to a lesser extent, "Go Robot".
  • Tantrum Throwing: John did this quite a few times onstage both during the BSSM tour and the Stadium Arcadium tour. The former instances are somewhat justified, because he was younger and inexperienced, and hated the direction in which the band was going. In the latter, however, he got angry over minor issues, such as one fan who held up a sign saying "John, can I play your guitar?".
  • Textless Album Cover: None so far, but famed album artist Storm Thorgerson did a few conceptual, artsy covers for Stadium Arcadium, which can be seen here. The band instead went for a (virtually) text-only cover seen here, which Thorgerson described as "trite, dull, and derivative."
  • That Syncing Feeling: The Chilis have, on just a few occasions in thirty years, played along with a pre-recorded track. During their Superbowl 2014 performance, NFL regulations stated that the band (with the exception of Anthony) had to pre-record their tracks. Since this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the band grudgingly went along with it. Flea and Josh decided to play with their guitars unplugged, because they felt that they owed it to the fans to know the truth. That, and Josh's frenetic convulsions during the guitar solo are a bit unrealistic. You can read Flea's statement about the performance here.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "Hustle Me, Bitch.” from "Look Around.”
  • Title Track: "Freaky Styley", "Blood Sugar Sex Magik", "One Hot Minute", "Californication", "By The Way", "Stadium Arcadium" and "The Getaway". In fact, I'm With You was named so just to break away from the pattern.
  • Title-Only Chorus: "Me and My Friends,” and arguably "Behind the Sun.” "Look Around" is very close to it, the first half of the chorus has the title repeated, the second half has the similar "All Around.”
  • Toilet Humour: "Nobody Weird Like Me"
    Riding down the path
    on the back of a giraffe
    me and the giraffe laughed
    cause I passed some gas
  • The Tooth Hurts: The end result of John Fruchante's heroin addiction was losing his entire bottom front row of teeth, plus having to have entire jaw reconstructed.
  • Trash-Can Band: For the bridge of "Breaking the Girl,” the band went into the nearest garbage dump and rounded up a bunch of garbage for Chad to use as percussion, giving off this effect.
  • Unplugged Version: A few, notably during their Bridgefoot School Benefit concerts in 2000, 2002, and 2004. Also a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, where they played "Under the Bridge.”
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Constantly. Hell, they used to play naked with only socks to cover their junk.
    • Frusciante's become more modest since his return; he has nasty scars from his heroin days and usually covers up as a result. This was lampshaded in this interview, where the female interviewer laments that the band put their shirts back on (actually, Flea was the only one with his shirt off), and John can be seen rolling his eyes.
    • Flea on the other hand still plays shirtless, although not as often as he used to. At Woodstock 1999, he performed naked. His bass covered his junk for the entire show... until the very end, when he lifted his guitar up to give the whole world a peek.
    • Whilst Anthony doesn't do so as often, he did do it on his Superbowl 2014 appearance. Funnily enough, on Jimmy Fallon Live, Fallon recounted one hilarious incident where he was in a bar and went to compliment Anthony on his tee-shirt. Anthony promptly took it off and gave it note  to the slightly more heavyset Fallon, who awkwardly squeezed into it while the shirtless lead singer went to the bathroom.
    • Notably averted with Josh who said he usually has "at least three layers on" and has yet to be seen without a shirt. Not because he's shy (he's not opposed to wearing something equally ridiculous, such as a sparkly gold blazer during the super bowl or a bra that was thrown on the stage by a fan) but because he gets cold.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: Frusciante stated in an interview that "Stadium Arcadium" was just a beautiful juxtaposition of words, nothing more. He even referenced "I Am The Walrus,” stating that much like he doesn't really need to know what the walrus is, he doesn't really need to explain the symbolism of the song.
  • Wanderlust Song: "Walkabout" from One Hot Minute and "Road Trippin'" from Californication. "Ethiopia" from I'm With You can sort of be read this way.
    • "Road Trippin'" is an interesting example in that it recounts an actual road trip Anthony, Flea, and John took a few months after the latter rejoined the band. Thus, in the song, Chad doesn't play the drums, and he hilariously makes a cameo in the music video for the song which primarily focuses on the other three members.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: From "Righteous and the Wicked:” Marvin Gaye my love/Where did we go wrong?. The line references Gaye, a famous but depressed artist who gave his abusive father a gun, knowing full well that he would shoot him: and did. The song is about the lack of humanity epitomized by greed and war, and Anthony laments this act of filicide.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Too many to count.
    • There are some literally examples in the leaked By The Way Rough Mixes where Anthony sung gibberish to the vocal melody to get a feel for the tune before adding proper lyrics. There's a released example of this happening in the Californication sessions too, with the digital bonus track "Over Funk.”
  • Word Salad Title: "Mellowship Slinky in B Major" from BSSM. Especially since the song is in D minor, the song doesn't mention a Slinky, and Mellowship isn't even a word.
  • We Used to Be Friends: During their first big break, John basically alienated everybody except Flea, who desperately tried to keep their connection going. During John's mid-'90s addiction troubles, neither Anthony nor Chad would even speak to him.
    • It's become sort of common knowledge that John and Josh stopped being friends around the time John quit the second time, with Josh replacing him, though it seems it was less acrimonious and more that John dropped everybody.
  • Yarling: Anthony does his share of nasal singing. Notably in "Scar Tissue" and "This Velvet Glove.”

Alternative Title(s): Anthony Kiedis, Flea