Tonight, the [artist id="1012"]Red Hot Chili Peppers[/artist] will premiere their new video, for “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” live on MTV at 7:53 p.m. ET/PT, with an exclusive interview and fan Q&A to follow on MTV.com.
Obviously, this is a pretty big deal — and not just because it’s been more than five years since the band released a new album or because “Maggie” will be their first music video since 2007′s “Hump de Bump.” No, it’s because over the course of their decades-long career, the Chili Peppers have been responsible for some of the most iconic videos of all time, clips that have pushed boundaries and defined generations in the process. Much like the Peppers themselves, their music videos flit between deliriously silly and downright arty — with stops at just about every point in between — but they always aspire to true greatness.
So, in celebration of the “Maggie” premiere, we’ve decided to take a look back at some of those achievements. These are the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Greatest Music Video Moments:
Not only does their re-imagining of Stevie Wonder’s classic rank among the all-time best cover songs, but the accompanying video — a manic-panic onslaught of motion, energy and imagery — is just as good. Who can forget Flea’s teddy bear pants (also seen in Young MC’s “Bust a Move” clip), or the video’s final, flame-drenched freak-out, which not only still looks killer, but perfectly captures the slash-and-burn madness of early Chili Peppers’ shows.
“Give it Away”
Stéphane Sednaoui slathered the band in silver paint and set them loose in the desert, and the end result was one of the most memorable videos of the 1990s. An over-the-top display of artful camera techniques and editing, it matches the song’s breakneck energy every step of the way. The clip justly won Breakthrough Video at the ’92 Video Music Awards, and remains proof positive that even when they’re wearing sparkly lipstick, the Chili Peppers are still total badasses.
“Under the Bridge”
Directed by indie auteur Gus Van Sant, it’s perhaps the first Chili Peppers’ video to break from their hyperkinetic past, conjuring up a dream-like (yet undeniably gritty) vision of the band’s hometown of Los Angeles. It lost the VMA for Video of the Year to Van Halen’s “Right Now,” but in the two decades since its premiere, “Under the Bridge” — and its accompanying imagery, particularly Anthony Kiedis sprinting towards the camera in languorous slow-motion — has become a defining work of the era.
“Suck My Kiss”
It’s little more than black-and-white footage of the band sequestered in Laurel Canyon’s (supposedly haunted) “The Mansion,” recording their epochal Blood Sugar Sex Magik album, but really, that’s good enough. In a way, it’s a time capsule, and watching the Peppers hammer out tunes, pose for promo shots and generally avoid wearing shirts, you’re still struck by just how much of a passion project the album really was. Like the title implies, it was a labor of love — not to mention blood and sweat.
“Breaking the Girl”
A swirling, psychedelic piece that’s part blissed-out hippie trip, part deep-fried acid flashback, “Breaking the Girl” pushed the Peppers further into experimental territory, thanks in no small part to Sednaoui’s continually shifting color palette (and Kiedis’s Princess Leia hair buns.) An underrated classic from the time when the band was operating at the absolute peak of its abilities, yet remained unafraid to branch out into the unknown.
It’s from probably the most divisive period in Chili Peppers’ history (at least, according to fans), but, for better or worse, the One Hot Minute era — a.k.a. “That time Dave Navarro was in the band” — officially kicked off with the “Warped” clip, which saw the band don PVC and tons of eye makeup and basically try their hand at creating a very mid-’90s vid (lots of white flashes, out-of-focus shots, etc.) It’s a decidedly dark, slightly forced work, and while it might not be their best clip, it’s certainly one of their most important: one that perfectly encapsulates a rather unique time in the band’s long history.
Also from the Navarro era, “Aeroplane” strikes the opposite tone of “Warped”: It’s a brightly colored, Busby Berkley-style number complete with bathing beauties and a rather adorable children’s choir. And despite the song’s dark lyrical themes, it harkens back to what has always made the Chili Peppers so great: their willingness to get silly when the situation calls for it.
The first single off their 1999 Californication album, it finds the band battered and bloodied, driving down a long stretch of deserted highway and bashing the song out on broken instruments. Once again directed by Sednaoui, it’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful achievement, one that also works as a rather apt metaphor for the band at that point: healing old wounds, beaten back a bit by life, but still strong, still willing to push forward into the horizon.
A stylized, computer-generated trip through California — the inspiration for so many of the band’s songs over the years — it pays homage to many of the cutting-edge games of the day (“Crazy Taxi,” “1080 Snowboarding,” etc.) while also managing to be groundbreaking and surprisingly poignant. Plus, it fulfilled many fans’ secret desires to play a totally sweet Chili Peppers video game.
“Tell Me Baby”
An overlooked video from their Stadium Arcadium days, “Baby” was directed by the duo of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and what makes it great is the concept behind it: real life musicians called upon to audition for the video, first solo, and then, without any advance warning, with the Chili Peppers themselves. The resulting footage — by turns awkward and unspeakably joyous — is instantly amazing, and, in a way, “Baby” brings the band full circle, back to their low-budget early days, yet still as unhinged and inspired as ever.
Tune in for the premiere of “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” on Wednesday (August 17) at 7:53 p.m. ET/PT on MTV and MTV2. Then stick around immediately after for our exclusive interview with the band, streaming live on MTV.com. Fans can submit their questions for RHCP via Twitter, using the hashtag #AskRHCP.