Snow, or the day I let go of the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Hey, oh. Listen to what I say, oh.

Alexandre Aimbiré
5 min readMar 13, 2024
Pictured: The infamous "OFF" hat (Marc Fanelli-Isla/Unsplash)

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

Let’s start by getting this out of the way: the Red Hot Chili Peppers suck.

Yes, they suck. There’s no other way to put it and saying that they’re bad or that their music is terrible is simply not enough. They suck. The Californian band most known for adding "California" to the chorus of every song was once considered one of Rock’s mightiest acts and a staple of 1990’s alternative rock with it’s funky songs and memorable live performances. However, after their virtual omniscience in the first decade of the 21st Century, despite their massive appeal and non-stop radio play, something changed and they quickly plunged into a netherworld of suckyness.

So, what happened? How do you go from being Californian rock gods to lame flabby old dudes that suck?

This question is not as simple as it seems and the answer is twofold. First, one must assess why they suck and then find out exactly when they started sucking in the fist place.

We should begin with a brief retelling of their career.

They started off as a pretty forgettable and outright bad Funk Rock outfit until the untimely death of guitarist Hillel Slovak, lead singer Anthony Kiedis’ best friend. Instead of calling it quits, they recruited boy wonder John Frusciante to replace him and dropped Mother’s Milk in 1989. The album contained a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” which got massive airplay and finally put the band under the spotlight. In 1991, they followed with Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Their first collaboration with the legendary producer Rick Rubin contained a great number of hits, such as the tribute to Slovak “Under the Bridge”, and catapulted the band into stardom. The band’s unique aesthetic, their videos and their on stage antics, such as performing nude — sometimes with socks covering their privates — or with the iconic light bulb costumes during their 1994 Lollapalooza performance.

Frusciante quickly grew tired of touring and quit the band, eventually being replaced by Jane’s Addiction alumnus Dave Navarro. With Navarro on guitar and Rubin returning as producer, the band recorded the strange and beautiful One Hot Minute. Navarro left the band in 1998, reportedly because of drug related issues, and Frusciante was recruited back to record what may be considered their strongest effort, 1999’s Californication.

Californication diverged from their earlier material, shying away from their funkier roots and ignoring the psychedelic incursions from One Hot Minute. The album contained many hits, including the title track and “Scar Tissue”. It received massive airplay, both on radio and on MTV. The following album, By The Way, can be considered a sequel to its predecessor and also was well received by the public and the media.

And then things started to sour.

The next release, 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, was the band’s first double album and opens with the mediocre “Dani California”. With a half baked character as inspiration, the song riffs off Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and even has a solo ripped straight from Jimi Hendrix’s classic “Purple Haze”. But the second track, “Snow (Hey Oh)” is absolutely unforgivable. They really had the gall to record and release a song with the words “Hey Oh! Listed to what I say, oh”!

The whole album is more of the same. Frusciante soon left the band (again) and was replaced by Josh Klinghoffer, considered by many as his best imitator, and the Chili Peppers put out a couple more forgettable albums before Frusciante returning (again).

Contrary to most of the 1990’s American rock bands, the Chili Peppers have not been relegated into the dastardly realm of dad rock. That is strange, when you come to think of it. Why didn’t they? It appears as if their fanbase is built mostly by teenagers and young adults who appreciate the lyrics, the funky songs and bassist Flea’s slap bass technique and on stage personality, but also old dudes who refuse to grow up and listen to new music. “Music was better back then!” they’ll say, saying some nonsense about the Chili Peppers being a great band.

Truth is, they’re not. We’ve established that. They suck, and we know why they suck. But did they always suck?

I saw them live in 2018 at the Brazilian edition of the Lollapalooza festival and it wasn’t bad, but it was far from a good performance. I remember feeling as if Kiedis wasn't really there and Klinghoffer having the worst tone I've ever heard. At the same time that I was underwhelmed by the performance, all the teenagers watching them for the first time around me were mesmerized, praising what I was considering to be kind of lame.

And then it hit me. They always sucked. I just grew up. I used to like them. I listened to them, jammed to them and even got into some of their funkier influences after listening to them. Got into slap bass because of Flea and adored the sheer simplicity of Frusciante's Fender Stratocaster tone. One day I woke up, brewed some coffee and listened to that God awful chorus on the local rock radio station and realized that they sucked. Not because they started to suck, but because I got too old for their mediocrity and crass lyrics. I got too old for bands that always sound the same and put out the same record over and over again every couple of years. I got too old for a bunch of Gen Xers who still act as if they were teenagers and refuse to grow up and evolve into a less shirtless and more mature sound.

But, most of all, I got too old for that chorus. Hey, oh, this SUCKS.

When did I grow up and become an adult?

This article is the unabridged version of the article originally published in the 2023–2024 Winter Issue of The Issue, USA Nijmegen’s Student Magazine in December of 2023.



Alexandre Aimbiré

Sociólogo de boteco, estudante de Letras, guitarrista ocasional, pai, marido e leitor ávido de caixas de sucrilhos. Leio e escrevo sobre o que me dá na telha.