Here’s a great piece from a music industry insider on how the Red Hot Chili Peppers are not only terrible musically, but also one of the rapier bands in pop music history :
“At first I refused to even go to a meeting with the band. The A&R guy was a friend, though, and after an hour of talking about it, I reluctantly agreed to attend. At the meeting, I did a credible impression of a person who didn’t think the Chili Peppers were assholes or that their music was completely fucking horrible; I talked enthusiastically about strategy, artist development and press campaigns, and I presented ideas on further establishing their image. None of them involved wearing socks on their dicks.
Afterwards, I took two of the Chili Peppers to the storage room where we kept the box sets and CDs. As we looked in the cabinet, they pressed up against me and told me about all of the ways we could make a super sexy sandwich.
At first I thought they were joking. When I realized they weren’t, I ran from the storage room to my office, where I closed my door, sat down at my desk, and cried. I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed, and embarrassed that I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed. There was far worse going on in the music industry at the time, and I thought I was a badass. Being a victim didn’t fit my self-perception.”
Please do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. It’s really hard to believe what a fucked up world the music industry was back in the 90’s and, of course, still is today.
As for their music, I take pride in having called bullshit on Mother’s Milk way back in high school. Yeah, yeah, the cover of “Higher Ground” wasn’t bad. Every RHCP guitar player can do a passable Jimi Hendrix imitation. Flea obviously devoured more than one “How To Play Slap / Funk Bass” guide in his time. And the drummer(s) have always been, like, there.
But my fucking god, Anthony Kiedis. Here’s a guy who can’t really sing and definitely can’t rap, so he tries to split the difference with his insufferable mumble-minstrel act. He’s always sounded so incredibly desperate to sound black it hurts my ears, and every time they come on the radio I just think Minstrel Show without the blackface.
And those lyrics. How about, oh, these —
“I got stopped by a lady cop
In my automobile
She said get out and spead your legs
And then she tried to cop a feel
That cop she was all dressed in blue
Was she pretty? Boy I’m tellin’ you
She stuck my butt with her big black stick
I said ‘what’s up?’ now suck my dick”
They’re meat-heads. They’re jocks who got into drugs rather than football. They’d have been perfect frat-boys if they’d managed to find lacrosse sticks instead of guitars. (OK, maybe not a genuine weirdo like Frusciante. That’s the nicest thing I can bring myself to say about any of them. He’s Wes Borland to Kiedis’s Fred Durst, which in relative terms doesn’t mean shit.)
And here’s that word again, desperate. They’ve always been a desperately un-funky, un-soulful person’s idea of a funky, soulful band.