How many songs has RHCP released

Song dictionary

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are considered exponents of mainstream rock these days. From a commercial point of view, they are extremely successful. They also embody the rawness and licentiousness of the funk metal scene in Los Angeles from which they come. In this respect, her work can best be understood as a constant oscillation between super-startum and mass compatibility on the one hand and unadjusted, critical rock authenticity on the other. It is precisely this field of tension that characterizes the tonal, textual and visual design of the song CALIFORNICATION and the accompanying music clip.

I. History of origin

The song CALIFORNICATION with a total duration of 5.21 minutes was released on June 19, 2000 as the fourth single from the seventh studio album of the same name by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

II. Context

The song title is a suitcase word from "California" and "Fornication", in German: fornication. Strictly speaking, the term refers to "the haphazard, mindless development that has already gobbled up most of Southern California" (Burton 1972), as it was first formulated in 1972 in TIME magazine, i.e. to the haphazard, thoughtless population expansion in the arid areas of southern California. The term found widespread use in the western United States as early as the 1950s and is rooted in the growing migration of the California population to the neighboring states. Slogans such as "Don't Californicate Oregon!" politicized and the term "Californication" was successively used as a derogatory synonym for the Californian way of life. Their spread should be prevented by a regular lockout of the 'neighboring states'.

In addition to the song CALIFORNICATION, the album of the same name from 1999 contains a number of text references to California, which definitely justify classifying the album as a concept album. For example, in the album opener "Around the World" there is the line "I try not to whine but I must warn ya bout the girls from California". In "Parallel Universe" frontman Kiedis sings "Christ I'm a sidewinder, I'm a California King" and in "Road Trippin" it says "in Big Sur we take some time to linger on" (Big Sur is an approx. 100km long coastal strip in the US state of California between San Simeon in the south and Carmel in the north). All in all, it can be said that life and lifestyle in California (the band's home state) form thematic reference points, and that they are dealt with on the album in 1992 at the latest Blood Sugar Sex Magik released song "Under the Bridge" and the accompanying music clip became increasingly critical. The text of the latter song deals with the former alienation of the 'clean' singer Kiedis from his bandmates due to their drug use. He also takes up memories of his own addiction. The feeling of alienation and isolation resulted in the statement "Sometimes I feel like my only friend is the city I live in the city of angels lonely as I am together we cry" and at the same time the self-directed desire to never feel that way again to want to get back, like back then "under the bridge downtown" and instead "to the place I love", namely to friends, family and his bandmates.

California is also the main theme in the song "Dani California" released on the album Arcadium Stadium (2006). The lyrics describe the short and unsteady life of a girl from a humble background who perishes on the 'model of life' California. Point references to "Dani California" can already be found in text passages from older Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. In "By the Way", published on the album of the same name (2002), it says "Dani the girl is singing songs to me beneath the marquee" and already in CALIFORNICATION with "a teenage bride with a baby inside" the figure of the ' Dani 'was meant. Due to the general symbolic content of this character, the lyrics "young Kentucky girl in a push-up bra" and "southern girl with a scarlet drawl" from the song "Scar Tissue", appeared on the album Californication (1999), to be referred to (cf. Jost / Klug 2009: 200ff).

III. analysis

If you try to categorize the Red Hot Chili Peppers' oeuvre roughly according to song types, three main groups come into play:

  1. "classic" rock songs, with melodic impetus and a clear separation of verse and chorus,
  2. faster, harder pieces, which stylistically arrested earlier in funk metal and are more ostinat-repetitive (such as "Give It Away" and "Suck My Kiss"),
  3. Ballad-like songs that convey an atmosphere of relaxation - sometimes also played with an acoustic line-up (examples include "Road Trippin" and "Scar Tissue").

CALIFORNICATION belongs to the group of rock songs.

The tempo of CALIFORNICATION is approx. 93 bpm, the meter runs continuously in four-quarter time and the line-up looks 'classic' - vocals, background vocals, guitar (I, II), bass and drums (as well as partial keyboard use) a recorder-like pad sound). The producer of the song (and the corresponding album) is Rick Rubin, in turn producer of well-known artists such as The Beastie Boys, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond. The same Rick Rubin is synonymous with a specific strategy of recording and mixing, which pursues the goal of reproducing the interplay of the instruments as transparently and unadulterated as possible, so that the impression of a directly experienced sound event can arise when listening. The consequence of this is, among other things, a sparse use of sound effects.

Four characteristics can be considered essential for the sonic configuration of the song. The first feature is located at the level of the shape progression. A block of forms, consisting of interlude, verse, bridge, refrain, shapes the successional logic of the song. In total it occurs three times - intro, interlude, 3rd verse or solo sound before or in between. As a result, over the five and a half minutes of the song - both in the band's oeuvre and in comparison to other mainstream hits, CALIFORNICATION appears to be a rather long piece of music - there is a certain uniformity in the formal process. The tonal difference of the molded parts constitutes this formal constancy. Overall, a cyclical form is established, which is determined by the clearly marked periodicity of tonal changes.

The form aspect already indicates the second configuration feature: the strophic dominance. In the song there are five stanzas of 6 bars each, compared to two refrain passages of 8 bars and a shortened four-bar chorus insert. The strophic dominance indicates a high density of textual information, so the narrative parts of the lyrics are mainly transported in the stanza. In addition, the Transitional Bridge, although conceived only as a transition from verse to chorus, itself provides a certain amount of text. Beyond quantitative dominance effects, a strongly contrasting handling of the verse-refrain principle can be seen, i.e. narrative-informative content on the one hand and exclamation and repetition ("Dream of Californication") on the other. Thus, the song constitutes an interplay between the short, exclaimed hookline in the chorus and the multi-syllable extended stanzas and bridges. The vocal performance underscores this compositional approach, alternating between the gesture of "singing narration" (verse and bridge) and emergence as a "scanding source of power" (refrain), a principle that is also used in other recordings by the band, including hits how to watch "Under the Bridge" or "Other Side".

The fact that the moment of contrast is also reflected in the instrumental arrangement can be seen in the transitions from verse to bridge and from bridge to chorus. The named molded parts stand out from each other through specific sound textures. Various parameters provide information about how this happens: intro, verse and interlude are connected in a rather transparent sound texture. On the micro level of the motifs and riffs, this is revealed in the intro motif of the guitar, which has a formative effect in the named molded parts. The bassline fills the pauses created by playing the guitar in a largely complementary rhythm (and essentially based on interval jumps). With regard to the drum beat, it can be stated that this is characterized in particular by the eighth note hit on the hi-hat and the bounce rolls on the snare drum. With the change from verse to bridge, the sound configuration condenses. The bass now plays (dotted) eighth notes, which are primarily centered on the keynote. The drums change from the hi-hat to the ride, creating a continuous soundscape, especially in the upper frequency ranges. This is reinforced by the accents of the crash pool. The bounce-roll effect is used to a lesser extent, which means that the overall beat sounds more straightforward. The sonic-rhythmic quality of this sound network is also characterized by the now ostinat, dense chord attack of the guitar. In the second and third bridges, the sound texture is also condensed by a unison background vocalise on the sound 'Ooh'. The harmonious progression on levels I and VI proves to be the connecting element within the stanza-bridge contrast (in the bridge this pendulum harmony is interpreted as Am and Fmaj7). The dense tonal conception is continued in the refrain, so that the transition at this point is not of the same significance as at the beginning of the bridge. Densification can be seen here more on the microtonal level: on the one hand, due to the increased use of the crash cymbal and, on the other hand, due to the now hard attack of the bass, which creates a distorted sound that has less contour.

The fourth characteristic can be located at the level of the harmonies. In this way, harmonious turns are implemented in the molded parts discussed so far, which range around the tonal center in A minor. An exit from this harmonic concept takes place during the guitar solo. Here, on the one hand, there is a tonal movement in the sense of a tonal increase through the change to the transposition level +3 (A major). On the other hand, two multi-bar chord progressions are strung together at levels VI / IV / VI / IV / II IV / I / V (2x) and II IV / I / V (2x). The solo play itself brings an agogically dynamic quality to the recording of the song. The sound basis of the solo is an almost undistorted guitar sound with a noticeably high number of bends, which does not rely on any other clearly recognizable sound processors. The improvisational interplay of the solo instrument and accompanying instruments initiates an increase or dynamization of the musical event. The periodic consistency established in the first half of the song is temporarily interrupted by the organic-linear course of the solo. The musical events are increasingly geared towards the instrumental performance of the actors.

In the following, the material analysis should be rounded off by a concise consideration of the text level. Regarding the form and content of the lyrics, it should first be noted that the verse and bridge consist of three or four vocal phrases. In the majority of the stanzas, these phrases form a pile rhyme with the ending syllable -tion, the bridge itself is organized in a pair rhyme. The chorus consists of four (or two) repetitions of the hook "Dream of Californication". The three vocal phrases in the stanza each represent three statements. In terms of content, these show strong breaks. In the course of the piece, the apparently incoherent series of statements is kept to a large extent. By listing actors and locations, the events described are decentralized. Overall, this form of textual and content-related design leads to the formation of recurrent oppositions. Life in California, the supposed culmination point of western-occidental civilization, is presented along the vague naming of various motifs as a paradox of self-determination and external control. It is warned that the individual in this environment is exposed to the permanent risk of infection by a cultural order that can ultimately not be mastered. It is interesting in this context that the narrative perspective of a participating observer is taken. This can be seen at those points where the change is made to the first person, whereby the "narrator" identifies himself as being involved in the event in some way.

If the formal and content-related aspects mentioned are brought together to form a global reading of the lyrics, it is important to emphasize the conceptual character of the textual organization. The text material should therefore be interpreted as a cryptic arrangement of statements that are not coherent in terms of content, which only reveal the full scope of the paradoxical life model "California" when combined and thus offer a kind of puzzle solution or life help.

The clip for CALIFORNICATION is essentially based on computer animation and performance presentations by the band. Figures modeled on real musicians pass through various game rooms of a fictional video game of the same name. At the same time, based on the aesthetics of video games, the "real-world" band performance is integrated into the game world through a minimized picture-in-picture. The performance takes place in a steppe-like setting in front of a blue, slightly cloudy sky without reference to a traditional performance situation (e.g. concert). Several times (mostly during the choruses) the performance is shown extensively. In these sections, the band is staged in the (virtual) music performance in the typical (live) arrangement of a rock band. The band members present themselves with a bare upper body, as is usually the case during their live performances. The singer is in the foreground, the drummer in the background, guitarist and bassist in the foreground to the left and right of the singer. The connection between the band member and the instrument takes on an important orientation function, as they can be linked to the music production via their respective musical contribution and can thus be identified as the authors of the piece of music.

The prominent blue of the sky, combined with the brownish earth, is a direct reference to air and earth as two of the four elements between which the band is arranged. The frequent stretching out of the arms of the singer Anthony Kiedis acts like a kind of connection between the elements. In this context, the warm and soft light can be understood as natural, coming from the sun, which in turn creates a metaphorical reference to California as the 'sunshine state'. The individual musicians are staged in almost all common setting sizes, mostly from the stomach and normal view. The entire band is shown in the performance windows at least once in a half-long shot from the front. The montage is dominated by hard cuts of short frequency and relational type. That means: The cuts stage both the relationships between the performing musicians and their rhythmic sequences of movements and gestures as elements of the music performance.

The six video game sequences contain a total of eleven different game worlds, which are distributed in different ways to the four characters. The character of the singer Anthony runs through three game worlds, the characters John and Chad are each in two play landscapes, the last character Flea only goes through one game world, during the guitar solo and in the final game sequence all four characters meet each other in a common game world . The structural structure of the game window remains the same for the duration of the individual levels, in the upper left corner is the minimized performance window, in the lower left corner of the screen a navigation instrument adapted to the respective game situation and in the upper right corner the score of the active game figure and the remaining playing time with.
All in all, it turns out that the goal of this 'video game' is only to a limited extent in successfully mastering the individual levels as such, but rather in activating the performance cube through the contact of the individual game pieces with the red ribbon logo floating in the play area. The final goal of the game is to bring the characters together, activate the performance cube together and then transform them into the real Red Hot Chili Peppers, followed by the words "Game Over". In this sense, the borrowings from the action video game aesthetic function as a narrative framework.

Ultimately, it is the combination of virtual computer game worlds and identities, staged real-world identities and musical rock styles that make up the specific appeal of this music clip. The band functions at the same time as an observer, commentator and indestructible participant in the paradoxical occurrence of "Californication" (cf. Keazor / Wübbena 2007: 387ff.). This event is staged as a dizzying (computer) game, at the same time a warning is given that this game should be enjoyed with caution, because it requires almost superhuman capacities.A biographical detail that adds another aspect of meaning to this clip is the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are "survivors" of the game described. For example, members Anthony Kiedis and John Fruiscante practiced excessive drug abuse for years, which has been discussed in their own songs as well as communicated in the tabloid media.

IV. Reception

The album Californication is the most commercially successful release of the Red Hot Chili Peppers with approximately 16 million copies sold. In addition, the album marks the return of the former guitarist John Frusciante. As a result, the importance of the album, in addition to its economic dimension, lies in its reunion character. Most of the singles reached high chart positions (including the analyzed title track). The song "Scar Tissue" was awarded a Grammy for Best Rock Song.

The music clip for CALIFORNICATION premiered on June 5, 2000, directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. The clip was at the MTV Music Video Awards 2000 in the categories "Video of the Year", "Best Group Video", "Best Special Effects in a Video", "Best Direction in a Video" and "Best Art Direction in a Video" "nominated and won the last two categories as well as the" Much Music Video Award "in 2000 in the" Best International Group Video "category and in the same year the" My VH1 Award "for" Pushing the Envelope Video "(cf. Pletzer oJ).





Main vocals: Antony Kiedis
Supporting vocals, guitar: John Frusciante
Bass: Michael "Flea" Balzary
Drums: Chad Smith
Keyboards: Greg Kurstin
Authors: Balzary, Frusciante, Kiedis, Smith
Producer: Rick Rubin
Release: June 20, 2000
Length: 5:21 (album version)



  • Jost, Christofer / Klug, Daniel: Integrated image-text-sound analysis. Using the example of the music clip CALIFORNICATION. In: The meaning of popular music in audiovisual formats (= Short Cuts / Cross Media 1). Edited by Christofer Jost and others. Baden-Baden: Nomos 2009, pp. 197–242.
  • Keazor, Henry / Wübbena, Thorsten: Video Thrills the Radio Star. Music videos: history, themes, analysis. Bielefeld: transcript 22007.



  • Burton, Sandra (1972): "The Great Wild Californicated West". In: URL: htto: //,9171,877985,00.html [06/25/2009].
  • Pletzer, Stefan: Special. Band: Red Hot Chili Peppers. Complete videography 1985-2002. In: popzoot. URL: [06/25/2009].


About the author

PD Dr. Christofer Jost teaches media science at the University of Basel and is research associate at the Center for Popular Culture and Music, University of Freiburg.



Christofer Jost: "Californication (Red Hot Chili Peppers)". In: Song dictionary. Encyclopedia of Songs. Ed. by Michael Fischer, Fernand Hörner and Christofer Jost,, 12/2011 [revised 10/2013].


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