It's hard to imagine now, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers' ninth album Stadium Arcadium was meant to be a more subtle affair. Reuniting with longtime producer Rick Rubin in the same (allegedly haunted) Laurel Canyon mansion studio where they recorded BloodSugarSexMagik in 1991, the group initially planned a record similar in scope to Meet The Beatles.
"We planned to write about 13 songs, make them good and record them," frontman Anthony Kiedis said ahead of the album's release. "In other words, we were planning to release a small, digestible piece of art...Eventually, it went haywire from there." The group eventually cut nearly 40 songs and considered releasing three albums over the course of a year and a half.
Instead, the double-CD Stadium Arcadium, released in 2006 became a blockbuster-size touchstone of all that fans had loved about them for two decades, from funk to metal. The album topped the charts all over the world (including their first No. 1 in America) and won four Grammy Awards, including two for lead single "Dani California" and one for Best Rock Album.
Here's a look back at some of our favorite tracks off the album!
"Dani California": another song about the composite character Kiedis created in the title tracks to previous albums Californication (1999) and By the Way (2002), this worldwide Top 10 is notable for guitarist John Frusciante's new bag of guitar tricks (featuring more pedals and effects than on previous works) and the striking similarity to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' "Mary Jane's Last Dance." ("I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there," Petty later commented.) The eye-catching video casts the RHCP in a tongue-in-cheek history of rock and roll.
"Tell Me Baby": a wistful tribute to those who travel to Los Angeles with dreams of making it big, "Tell Me Baby" marked a triumphant return of funk style to the band's repertoire. Bassist Flea called the video, which featured dozens of aspiring musicians rubbing elbows with the band members, "the best we ever did."
"Snow ((Hey Oh))": an uncharacteristically laid-back tune built around a fast-paced Frusciante riff, "Snow" helped the band set a still-ongoing record for most songs to top Billboard's modern rock chart (11 at the time, 13 as of 2021). The band shot a simple video at a gig at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey, utilizing color footage of the show with black and white images of fans and crew backstage.
"Desecration Smile": propelled by Fruscante's acoustic strumming and lively fills from drummer Chad Smith, the video for "Desecration Smile" found the band reuniting with director Gus Van Sant, who - prior to his Hollywood breakthrough with Good Will Hunting - had shot the band's "Under the Bridge" video. (Van Sant also aided with Stadium Arcadium's art direction; a swag-packed deluxe edition won a Grammy for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.)
"Hump de Bump": another throwback funk cut (complete with a trumpet riff from Flea!), "Hump de Bump" has deep roots to RHCP's past; in production, it was labeled "Ghost Dance 2000" because of its similarities to "American Ghost Dance" off the band's 1985 album Freaky Styley. The block party-themed video was shot on the set of the sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, and was directed by the show's co-creator/narrator Chris Rock. (He, of course, appears as himself in the video, forbidden to enter the party thanks to a security guard played by Craig Robinson, who'd make a similar, breakthrough appearance in the comedy Knocked Up later that year.)
"Charlie": while never released as a single, the Chili Peppers made waves in the early days of YouTube by hosting one of the first contests to make a fan video. The winner was Omri Cohen, who created this upbeat mini-adventure featuring teenaged versions of the band members cavorting through California (with a moving dedication to former guitarist Hillel Slovak at the end). "After watching dozens and dozens of admirable efforts, I finally saw a video for Charlie that made me cry," Kiedis said of the clip, "and when I looked at my girlfriend, she was crying too. That's when I knew we had a winner."