[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday.]

Song: Red Hot Chili Peppers' “Californication”

History: “Californication” is from RHCP's Californication, an album that people high-fived when it was released but seems to grow weaker with each passing year. I mean, this was probably the best song on there, and it's cool and all, but it was better the first time I heard it, back in 1992 when they were calling it “Under The Bridge.” This song is to the Red Hot Chili Peppers as The Quest is to Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Atmospherics: Like if they sold melancholy at Walgreens; like if maybe they forgot how brilliant they could be when they were really trying (“Give It Away”); like every high school kid's alt-mixtape at the end of the '90s.

Scientific Analysis: Let's disassemble “Californication” by mentioning it briefly and then talking about something else entirely.

In 1999, after RHCP released Californication, they experienced a mega-resurgence in popularity at my high school. Everybody loved them. EVERYBODY. I don't imagine it was too different at anybody's school (unless you had a lot of Black people at your school; we had less than ten, so I don't know). I remember my loser friends and I soaked up all the RHCP stuff we could find. It was so much fun.

The best: When we found the video for 1991's “Give It Away.” Remember that one? That's the one where they were painted silver and everything was shot in black and white by that French director? Oh man, when we watched it, when we saw Anthony Kiedis flashing his taint like a goddamn superhero of cool for the first time, it was like someone had scooped out all of our brains and smashed them on the floor.

We spent probably the whole next 30 days devolving every conversation into some sort of Kiedis Taint-related joke. The most prominent: Responding to questions offering something (“I'm going to store. Want me to pick up something for you?”) with, “No taints.” The most auspicious: When we spent 20 or so minutes looking through a Bible for passages that talked about Heaven, replacing the word “Heaven” with “Kiedis Taint.” We'd find a few, then get up, pretend to be a preacher, and shout them with great enthusiasm.

I mean, it was a shitty thing to do, I guess, but it was never not funny.

Anyway, the point is, “Californication” never inspired such tomfoolery. It never really inspired anything, probably (this is weird to consider now because there was a part of the song where Kiedis mentioned baby unicorns and pornography, basically every guy's two favorite things). Except for a desire to listen to their older music. Because this was strained and contrived and (seemingly) everything they were against. And science hates unoriginality. You don't get credit for rediscovering gravity and you don't get credit for re-recording a song that you'd already recorded eight years earlier.


(I) South San Antonio is not the place to live if you want to experience diversity, unless your definition of diversity is “knowing a lot of Mexicans.”

(II) Nobody ever forgave Jean-Claude Van Damme for The Quest, and rightfully so. It was THE WORST movie he ever made, and he was the main guy in that Street Fighter abomination.

(III) Kiedis Taint is the new swag. Run with it. Take it to Twitter. #KiedisTaint

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