Released on June 8, 1999.

Released on June 8, 1999, Californication is the biggest Red Hot Chili Peppers album. But is it the best Chili Peppers album?

“Wait, Adam 12, how can you say it’s the band’s biggest album?” Well, it’s gone 7x Platinum in the United States. “But Adam 12, Blood Sugar Sex Magik also went 7x Platinum!” Wait a minute, who are you? And why are you arguing with me?

Yes, both Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication have surpassed the 7,000,000 mark in U.S. sales. But Californication has moved more units worldwide, so it gets the edge as being the “biggest” album. But what about “best?”

The Best Chili Peppers Album: It’s Gotta Be From the ’90s

Given the way the Chili Peppers owned MTV and the radio airwaves for the entirety of the ’90s, it’s wild that they only had three proper studio releases during the decade. Blood Sugar Sex Magik in ’91, One Hot Minute in ’95, and Californication in ’99.

I love One Hot Minute, but it was just that: one hot minute in the band’s timeline. The Dave Navarro experiment was fun, but ultimately failed. So that leaves us with the two RHCP albums that bookended their strongest decade as a band.

The Best Chili Peppers Album: Which One Will “Get On Top?”

When I ranked the Beastie Boys catalog, I gave Ill Communication the edge over Check Your Head, arguing the former slightly improved and expanded on the latter. Can the same reasoning be applied here? Not really, I’m afraid.

What RHCP did in ’91 was hit their stride…and their peak. By ’99, they were still red hot, but retreading their earlier work. So I’d say Blood Sugar Sex Majik is their best album. But Californication is still worth revisiting, so let’s “road trip(pin’)” back.

  • "Scar Tissue"

    As was the custom in those days, the album’s first single dropped about a week before the album did. So it was “Scar Tissue” on rock and alternative radio starting on Memorial Day Weekend, and eventually becoming the anthem of the summer of ’99. It spent 16 weeks total at No. 1.

  • "Around the World"

    Here’s where the Chilis (and Warner Bros. Records) were savvy. They waited until late August to follow up “Scar Tissue” with “Around the World.” As the former waned away, the latter took its place. But it never made it to No. 1, peaking at No. 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

  • "Otherside"

    Do the Chili Peppers write ballads? Sure they do; look no further than “Under The Bridge.” I’d call “Otherside” a ballad, too. Not just because of its slower tempo, but because of it’s themes of addiction and recovery.

  • "Californication"

    It’s as if Warner Bros. said: “Well, “Otherside” had that downtempo thing going on, and it charted pretty well, and the album’s been out for a year now, so why don’t we go ahead and release the also-downtempo title track as a single?” Good move: it went No. 1 on both the Billboard Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts.

  • "Road Trippin'"

    This one wasn’t released as a single stateside; only in Australia and Europe. Still, five singles spanning close to a year-and-a-half? Californication is a monster of an album.

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