Remember when the Red Hot Chili Peppers would run around with socks precariously covering their penises? That signature onstage antic resonated so much with the alternative-rock audience — and eventually wider popular culture — because it was the closest the Peps had ever come to expressing their true essence.
Though lead singer Anthony Kiedis went through a newly mature phase at the tail end of the '90s, his lyrical subject matter has always been mostly concerned with bumping and grinding, among other kinds of bare-skinned physical contact between horny human beings. And when Kiedis isn't scatting like a riled-up frat boy, he just freely improvises a brand-new language that only he understands.
The song: "I Like Dirt" (1999)
Actual lyrics: "Space is made of everything/And I'd be fire that I bring/I live in a dream/In your spring/I live in a dream."
We highlighted this memorable verse from the band's turn-of-the-millennium redemption album, Californication, because it vividly exemplifies the Peps' distinctly proto-Juggalo approach to science. We are certain that if Kiedis hadn't proclaimed that "space is made of everything" with such pre-Galilean abandon, the Insane Clown Posse's Violent J might have never conducted his interrogation of magnets and just how the fuck they work.
The song: "Suck My Kiss" (1991)
Actual lyrics: "K-i-s-s-i-n-g/Chicka chicka dee/Do me like a banshee/Lowbrow is how/Swimming in the sound/Of bow wow wow/Aw, baby, do me now/Do me here, I do allow."
If you ask anybody to do an impression of RHCP's frontman, odds are they'll blurt out a series of James Brown-style surfer caveman grunts. For three decades, Kiedis has mashed up Mother Goose's book of rhymes with garbled, Lollapaloozian cries of lust and madness. You know the way rich old ladies talk to their little dogs? Add a little sexually frustrated Fred Flintstone to the mix and you've got a timeless recipe for success.
The song: "Subway to Venus" (1989)
Actual lyrics: "With honest sound, I'll paint your brain/For in this song, I do proclaim/That once aboard this moving train/I'll do my best to ease your pain."
Grammar, signification, or simple meaning be damned. Sometimes it seems as though Kiedis is just a total slave to rhyming. He'll start with an absurdly WTF line such as "With honest sound, I'll paint your brain." And then he'll try oh-so-desperately to make the next dozen lines end with -ain words. The result: a lyrical clusterfuck that appears to have been written by a monkey with a faulty typewriter and an obsolete edition of The American Schizophrenic's Handy Rhyming Dictionary.
The song: "Around the World" (1999)
Actual lyrics: "Me oh my oh/Me and Guy O/Freer than a bird/'Cause we're rockin' Ohio."
People give Rick Ross shit for rhyming Atlantic with Atlantic. But at least he doesn't needlessly invent nonsensical words. Hey, Tony, is Guy O really the only thing (other than my oh, of course) that rhymes with the great state of Ohio? Perhaps there is an actual individual named Guy O who figures prominently in the lives of the Chili Peppers. And maybe he lives in Akron.
The song: "Give It Away" (1991)
Actual lyrics: "Bob Marley, poet and a prophet/Bob Marley taught me how to off it/Bob Marley, walkin' like he talk it/Goodness me, can't you see, I'm gonna cough it."
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Forget the short form — it's worth spelling it out: What the fuck. And no, we're not missing a question mark. To paraphrase Chris Rock commenting on Fiona Apple shouting out Maya Angelou: Somewhere, Bob Marley's ghost is out there wondering, Who the hell is this un-funky white boy saying my name?
Not to mention, every single thing the Chili Peppers singer writes is about getting his hairy palms on a "sexy Mexican maid." But "Give It Away" somehow inverts the classic double entendre by making a song about "giving it away" sound like it might be social commentary on class politics.
Nope, Anthony Kiedis just has a boner.