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Bitch Please: The Red Hot Chili Peppers

BY KATIE HANSON AND DAN WATSON | APRIL 27, 2009 7:26 AM

Bitch Please is a place where two DI staffers argue about all that is wonderful in the entertainment world.

Hotter than ever

I first listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was 12, close to By the Way’s release, and I felt very strongly about the band’s music. And though the 12-year-old me also had passionate feelings for *NSYNC, she was not wrong about all things. The Red Hot Chili Peppers makes good music, even though it is easy to dismiss the quartet on the basis of its radio appeal, causing its singles to become all but inescapable surrounding an album’s drop date. This is not a full representation of the band’s talent.

Take Stadium Arcadium. Most casual music fans can recognize “Tell Me Baby” and “Dani California,” but to me, those don’t compare with “Wet Sand,” “She Looks To Me,” and “Animal Bar,” songs with meaningful lyrics that can’t be classified as pop.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ full CDs have much more to offer than the singles which are so often to blame for the band’s bad rap.

Never more tepid

Whenever I’m walking around Iowa City and hear a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song blaring in someone’s car stereo I want to chuck a rock through her or his windshield. So much better music exists — in Iowa City alone — that I cannot comprehend how some individuals are still hooked on the poppy rock sound that resounded throughout high-school parking lots during the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Chili Peppers are at best a “start-off” band. Many individuals first listen to the group when they are just beginning to take music seriously, but then their musical tastes evolve in other — often less mainstream — directions.

Since 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the band’s breakthrough album, the Chili Peppers haven’t produced anything as funky or original. Released in 1999, Californication is the pinnacle of the band’s signature whiny sound. What happened to the groove and Flea’s skittish bass lines?

When the Chili Peppers should have tried to expand its sound, the band instead opted to stay with longtime producer Rick Rubin. Together the quartet and Rubin completely neglected experimentation and, as a result, the tracks sound overly compressed and distorted.

While the band regained an ounce of funkiness with 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, the Chili Peppers’ spice has long been extinguished, never to reignite.


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