Top 5 Songs on RHCP’s Stadium Arcadium

When Red Hot Chili Peppers released Stadium Arcadium back in the spring of 2006, it had already been close to four years since their last studio effort, By the Way, made its way into the lives of fans. By the time “Dani California” hit the airwaves, people were ready – they were hungry for more Chili Peppers. I was more of a casual fan back then however, so while I enjoyed the hit singles the album produced, it would be several more years before I gave the entire two-disc record a listen. It might’ve been a good thing that I waited so long to give the full album a spin though, because I’m not sure that I would’ve really enjoyed some of the songs that would eventually become my favorites at the time of their release. I had to age into them, so to speak. So, in the spirit of giving credit where credit is due (no matter how overdue it may be), let’s take a stroll through RHCP’s classic album Stadium Arcadium, just a little more than 10 years too late.

  1. Hey. To kick things off, I’ve got to go with the last song from the album’s first disc. The working title of this song, “Light and Jazzy,” is really quite fitting. The hypnotic bass line, ultra-repetitive guitar, Kiedis’ soft, imploring vocals, and the simple, bouncy drum pattern—it all comes together to create an entire world within the song. It’s meditative and reflective from beginning to end, brilliantly punctuated with a sweet, sing-a-long chorus and classic Frusciante riffing. The song’s primary guitar solo (because I seem to remember there being a couple) has a certain improvisational quality that  has always made it seem fizzy to me in some way, like shaking up a bottle of champagne and popping the top off just to watch the sparkling explosion.
    There’s a interview with members of the band describing this song in which Anthony Kiedis says that he thinks you “need to have been around the block a certain amount of times” before you really appreciate “Hey.” I feel the same way; it’s a song that matures like wine (or maybe a nice champagne?).
    Click here to listen.
  2. Hard to Concentrate. Back in high school, I would sometimes catch a ride home with my friend in a van that transported several other kids my age. We would pack in there like a clown car—sometimes, it wasn’t too different from a small school bus. I remember one drive home in particular though, when someone began playing this song through their iPod. For some reason though, they were swiftly and indisputably shut down by another friend of mine.
    Immediately, I began to wonder what could cause someone to harbor such disdain for a song I knew to be such a beautiful gem. Apparently, he’d grown tired of it after my van-driving friend’s girlfriend had played the song every day after school for a several weeks straight. I’ll tell you this though—that’s a darn shame. I’ve never wavered in my own opinion of the song, if anything I think my appreciation has grown over time.
    The synced-up drum and bass, the rapidly paced, story-telling lyrics and delicious, sweeping choruses that follow – every part of the song is underscored at the end by a celebratory, triumphant-sounding guitar solo that’s soaked in the emotion Kiedis brings to life in the song’s lyrics.
    Click here to listen.
  3. Wet Sand. Sometimes I think of songs as musical journeys, taking the listener on a ride and leaving them in a different place than where they started. This is one of those songs. Peaceful, unassuming and in a way, carefree—that’s how you feel until you’re introduced to an energizing chorus and clever, perhaps even more energizing lyrics.
    “I thought about it and I brought it out / I’m motivated by the lack of doubt.” I’ve always liked that last line in particular because it seems to be the perfect Anthony Kiedis lyric—somehow full of irony and meaning, although its exact significance isn’t quite clear. The finale of this song is a climactic guitar solo accompanied by the rare use of a harpsichord. Bravo Chili Peppers. Bonus points for the harpsichord.
    Click here to listen.
  4. Tie—Charlie/Snow. Okay, so fourth place is a real toss up. I can’t quite decide between Charlie and Snow—they both occupy a special place in the heart of this fan.
    I’ve always loved the unique way Charlie incorporates authentic funkiness on all instrumental fronts, combined with a deliciously melodic chorus. But then again, “Snow” was probably the first Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song I truly loved. The tune’s signature bass line, sing-along chorus, and climactic outro were enough to run away with my imagination when it first came out in 2006, and the same is true today. The two songs are also associated with different sets of memories for me, each valuable in their own ways. So while these songs really are quite different, I think it’s fair to say I love them both equally.
    Click here to listen to “Charlie” and here to listen to “Snow.”
  5. Animal Bar. I was sort of inclined to put “Dani California” here in fifth place, but in my opinion, Stadium Arcadium is too good an album to not get into some deeper cuts. This song is notable for a lot of things, not the least of which include its pulsing bass line, the pleasant guitar swells, the incredible pop sensibilities that grab you by the ears and pull you into the song’s verses. Everything blends together to create the type of soundscape you’ll find in “Zephyr Song” or some of the more melodious parts of “Can’t Stop.”
    But there is a flip side to this sunny, delightful journey, and it’s something much darker, at times bordering on downright scary. The song’s chorus has a much darker tone than its pulsing, pleasant verse, but I think the most notable contrasts are the interesting, yet at times rather jarring quality of the harmony vocals found at the end of the song. They make heavy use of a chorus effect and produce a sound that I’ve always found rather startling, but I also appreciate the real contrast between these sections and the beautiful way the song begins.
    Click here to listen.

So there you have it folks, my picks are in. Now, I’m curious to know what your favorites are. But even more so, I’m curious to know why they’re your favorites. Let me know with a comment below!

About the author

Hi, I’m Andre! I’m your standard, run-of-the-mill, millennial with a thing for avocados, a major coffee-habit and a blog I work on when I'm not listening to podcasts or collecting cans of rare, sought-after craft beer.

Leave a Reply