Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californication Meaning
Song Released: 2000
Try to steal your mind's elation
Little girls from Sweden
Dream of silver screen quotations
And if you want these kind of dreams
It's the edge of the world
And all of western...
anonymous Nov 2nd, 2007 11:44pm report
First of all, yeah, the band later realized that the fictional character Dani California may have something to do with the song, at the time they wrote it, she didnt. Music is a form of art, and you can't understand art unless you understand the artist and the way that they were feeling about the world at the time they created their piece of artwork. Also, this song, in my opinion is the greatest song in the world because it discusses the main problems with the world in a poetic, beautiful, and metaphoric way. With that being said, let us take the lyrics line upon line:
We must begin with the title of the song. As many of you have mentioned, it is a mashup of the words California and fornication. But what many of you have failed to notice is that the word is not Californication. This is very important. It puts the stress on fornication, where it belongs. California also does not refer to California as a whole, because, why would the Chillies knock on their hometown state? No, instead it is referring to Hollywood because, when we think of California, what do we really think of? We think of the idiot celebs living there in Hollywood. (as a side note, the Chillies themselves are celebs, something that they adress later in the song). Now, the word fornication does not refer to the act of fornication itself, per se, but it could. Instead what it is metaphorically referring to is the overall lifestyle of Hollywood. Because of the popularity of blockbuster movies and other such things, modern celebrities have achieved an iconic, almost Godlike status in our society. They can have whatever they want, and more importantly they can do whatever they want. Everyday we hear about something that some idiot celebrity did (mocking an entire minority group, shaving their head bald, denying things that everyone already knows to be true...) This is their lifestyle, and more importantly, they don't even care how much they are destroying their lives. But the beauty of Californication is not pointing out this simple fact because we already know this. But the reason that Californication is so awesome is because it tells us that this lifestyle is, through movies, television, and the internet, spreading everyone, young and old alike beginning to think that they, like these celebrities can simply throw their lives away in exchange for endless partying.
"Psychic spies from China
Try to steal your minds elation"
Picture a little girl sitting in front of a television. She is watching a show involving spies from China. On the show, they are uncovering secret plans from the US government or whatever, that part doesn't really matter. But what the show is really doing is not stealing the US's plans, but the mind of that little girl. For those of you who don't know how to use a dictionary, "elation" means great happiness. While that little girl is watching that television program, she believes that she is happy because it is relaxing and she knows that tomorrow at school, everyone will be talking about it, and she will be able to chime in, making her more popular and thus happier. But this is not the real feeling that we get from television. Really, our brains are rotting, and more importantly, we are letting somebody elses thoughts get into our brains. In this case, it is the producers, writers, directors, and editors thoughts creeping into this little girls brain in the form of the actors portraying the part of Chinese spies.
"Little girls from Sweden
Dream of silver screen quotations"
This is just explaining the above scene that I have already depicted for you. All that this little girl can think of is these words that these spies are saying. First of all, that only impounds the message the the director and so forth are trying to send to her even more in her head. But also, she is slowly learning that this is the ideal. Whoever the actor is has a dream job. He says a few lines in a recording studio and then goes out and parties for six days. This is a slow learning process and not something that happens all at once.
"And if you want these kind of dreams
This is just the Chillies introduction to the rest of the song. Chilling. Creepy.
"It's the edge of the world
And all of western civilization"
This is referring to the geographical location of Hollywood itself. How much more western than Hollywood can you get? Also, it is the height of our western ideals. Ever since socrates spoke out and Julius Caesar took over a nation, our European ancestors and ourselves have always valued self advancement. We are out there living our lives mostly for the sake of being noticed by others. I have a shiny car and a huge house-this is just our symbolic way of saying to the world LOOK AT ME! Nowhere on the planet is this more prevalent than Hollywood. It almost seems as if the Paris Hiltons and Brittany Spearses of the world are as stupid as they are on purpose for the sake of getting more attention. It is saddening but true
"The sun may rise in the East
At least it settles in the final location"
This refers to two things. First of all, as mentioned above, western civilization as we know it began in ancient Greece. To most of us, that is far away in the EAST. Now that we have all moved west, the "final location" for western civilization is Hollywood. The other thing that this refers to is Hollywood sunsets. Think of old westerns where the cowboy rides off into the sunset. That sunset is painted. The sun in that painting will never rise nor set anymore. It is in its final location.
"It's understood that Hollywood
Our first direct reference to Hollywood
"Pay your surgeon very well
To break the spell of aging"
One way to get yourself notices is to look fantastic. But we are mortal humans, so we age, and as we do, we look less and less fantastic. So what do rich celebrities do? Plastic surgery. Unfortunately, it is not just celebrities participating in this unfortunated tradition of masking your humanity. Typical housewives will blow their lifes savings on plastic surgery. It is unfortunate
"Celebrity skin is this your chin
Or is that war your waging"
First of all, "chin" does not refer to the bottom of your face. It is talking about China, once again, and your deep, personal desires. Secondly, this refers to the inner battle in, say, a typical housewife, who does not particularly want to cave to the social pressures of looking young and beatiful all of her life. I am certain that she would be just as happy to have a loving husband and children. But consider her thought process: if I look worse, my husband might cheat on me, my children will be embarrassed to be with me in public, etc. So she does cave and gets her plastic surgery.
I am out of time for today. Maybe sometime in the near future I can continue to educate you all on the true meanings of this song.
anonymous May 8th, 2006 5:41am report
WHAAT??!! Have any of you actually listened to the song?
"Californication" is talking about the way hollywood influences the world negatively. The part, "Little girls from Sweden dream of silver screen quotations." refers to a loss of innocence, hence the ploy on "Fornication" The part just before the chorus, "first born unicorn/hardcore soft Porn." also backs this up, as does "Teenage bride with a baby inside." the song talks of "Californication" as a sort of infection. Awesome song, by the way, definitly a classic.
anonymous Nov 12th, 2006 11:55pm report
I'd say pretty much everyone here is right. I remember when the single was released Kiedis said that it was mostly about Hollywood/California's influence over the world. Obviously the fornication factor thrown in to the name of the song to represent that sex sells, but its not everything the song is about. This is also about how people think California is glamorous and great, but in reality it is all made up and really fake. This is also the basis for the video. A lot of scenes in it looks great, and then they just turn to sh*t. The band members running in the video most likely shows their attempt to get away from it all.
For those die heard music fans who should have really been able to pick this up, the music is very slow and mellow because it matches the lyrics. Kiedis sings about very depressing things, just like the music is also kind of depressing. During the chorus he raises his voice and the band plays somewhat faster/louder because that's where they wanted to put the emphasis on what the song is about, just a dream of false hopes.
anonymous Sep 4th, 2016 9:15am report
Its about California
anonymous Aug 4th, 2012 8:39pm report
Californication is about Hollywood.
"Pay your surgeon very well to break the sign of aging...Celebrity Skin..."
That is so clear. People always just want to look appealing in Hollywood, because Hollywood is fake, and people there are fake.
"Or is it WAR your waging"
The money you spend on looking like a retard goes to the wars that united states is involved in.
"Born and raised by those who praise control of population"
that means so much to me. I don't to sound stupid, but "control of population" has to do with free masons and illuminati. I have no idea what Anthony has to do with that, i don't think he does, but i think he is hinting that the illumnatis and free masons are mostly in hollywood. maybe. i could be completely off.
"psychic spies from china..."
if you read Scar tissue, Anthonys autobio, he says he was walking down the street and some old crazy lady just was screaming that. haha.
anonymous Jul 17th, 2012 7:59am report
It is a play on words of california and fornication, california is penetrating the world with news and gossip. It focuses on the fact that the world is a global village, we all dream of fame and going to california in which we associate with being the dream place, " and if you want these kinds of dreams its californication".
It refers to lyrics from various songs in which originated in california, as well as reference to the beach boys who came to fame in california.
I am using this as a related text for year 12 english topic :Global village. It effectivley illustrates and conveys the world that is influenced by media and technology, which is symbolised by the town of california.
anonymous Apr 18th, 2012 4:03pm report
the music video look like a cool video games
anonymous Feb 14th, 2012 2:19pm report
RCP are from LA. Hollywood/LA corrupts. Corrupts all that go there to try to make it.
It could be Californiruption, but that doesn't come off the tongue so well.
Hello, and hello. The song, in my view, is of the spread of media and lies, though in the sense of movies and music rather than news and politics. Californication refers to the influx of people and areas becoming hellbent on fame. The various references to "the western civilizations" are also to California, Hollywood precisely, and it's influence on the great world of nothing. And another point I have is of Alderaan, a part everyone seemed to miss. This is, if you've watched Star Wars, a fictional planet that is famous for being destroyed by the great Death Star. To me, this is a little implement that the world will be destroyed in some way, thanks to Hollywood, or Hollywood is the next Alderaan.
I'd love to do more, but hell, got a bed to sleep on.
anonymous Nov 10th, 2011 11:33am report
I believe this song talks about California
anonymous Oct 15th, 2011 10:55pm report
Many of you have good ideas. But what we need to focus on is "fornication" and it's real definition. Fornication is premarital sex. In today's world that means finding someone and sleeping with them and then breaking up with them. And California, Hollywood, is broadcasting this. Children can see this on the television. I think it's about how society's look on bad things is getting lower and lower. People just don't care what's on TV.
"It's understood that Hollywood sells Californication"
A perfect example of how sex sells.
anonymous Jul 18th, 2011 7:34am report
Many of these "interpretations" are nice and all... but all of you seem to be forgetting that California isn't just about Hollywood. It's a gorgeous state with incredible and well-maintained National Parks, where landmark green legislation has passed, the liberal "hippie" state, the best public universities in the entire nation, and the Silicon Valley that gave all of you your Macs and Xboxes.
What I'm trying to say is that I think this song is about Hollywood only, since the RHCP were from California and they would know all this stuff. Some person up there said that the lyrics may not be referring to California, but what we think of when someone talks about California: Hollywood.
I've lived in California my entire life (the South Bay) and while I agree that Hollywood has negative influences, I cannot stand to see all of you insult the entire state. The fact that people see California as Jersey Shore or the OC is ignorant on THEIR part.
I'd also like to point out that plastic surgery is frowned upon and that "typical" housewives can't afford it (South Korea holds the record for the most amount of plastic surgeries, btw). Hollywood may have negative influences, but movies can have a positive impact also. Movies such as Schindler's List and documentaries like Food Inc. send powerful and good messages. It's up to us to pick which Hollywood movies affect us.
Hmmm . . . . So many interpretations . . .i m from india . . . . N we r all californiacted . . . . . . .point is hollywoods influenced da whole world . . . wth its rockstars (music as a form of rebellion n liberation) its glamour . . . . .its movies . . . .music . . .da lifestyle of celebs. . . . Its all so attractive ,everyone dreams to be a part of it. . hollywood has everythin . . .It sells sex in every variety (hahahaha) . . . Soft porn ,hard porn hmmm . . whole world changes if ders i change in america . . .west is where da sun sets, its evil tht spreads from california. With its drugs, gangs ,plastic lifestyle . .but i guess tht is da reason why we all love dis song . . . Inside all of us want to be a part of what hollywood represents . .whats life without a little bit of fun . . .Cool though song so truth infused in every word . Definitly a classic . .:)
First of all, this song NOT (only) about the state of California and its characteristics.
Here, Californication also means "Globalization", and if you exchange the two words anywhere in the song (except the second verses, and damn the rhyme!) it works as far as understanding and English is concerned.
California is just used as a medium which represents the whole world as it is, changing and growing worse. This is suggested by the "(pregnant)teenage bride"(line 23) and also how people are trying to "break the sign of ageing" for a completely useless (and unexplained) case.
IN A NUTSHELL, this song says:
(How) People are becoming obsessed for money, as also other materialistic gains, leading to loss of cultures of other lands.
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