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"Dani California" is the first single from the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers' ninth studio album, Stadium Arcadium. The single was first made available at the iTunes Music Store and then was officially released on May 2, 2006. The international radio premiere was April 3, 2006, when Don Jantzen from the Houston radio station KTBZ-FM, played "Dani California" continuously for his entire three hour program.

The single debuted on the the Billboard Hot 100 at #24 and peaked at #6, becoming the band's third single (after "Under the Bridge" and "Scar Tissue") to enter the top-ten. In addition, "Dani California" became the second song in history to debut at #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart, after R.E.M.'s 1994 hit "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?", and also charted at #1 on the Mainstream Rock charts. The song won two Grammy Awards, one for Best Rock Song and the other for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. It also marked the band's joint-biggest UK hit to date along with "By the Way", peaking at #2 in the UK Singles Chart, being kept out of #1 by Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy".

Origins and character

Throughout the song, lyricist Anthony Kiedis laments the early death of Dani, a poor, young Southern girl who eventually lived in Californiamarker, became a mother and lived a hard, fast, unsettled life. Kiedis has commented that the character of Dani is composite of all the women with whom he has had relationships. The song narrates much of Dani's life, starting with her birth in Mississippimarker and apparently culminating with her death in the badlands of North Dakotamarker, while en route to Minnesotamarker.

Dani first appeared in the 1999 song "Californication", which includes the lyrics "Teenage bride with a baby inside/Gettin' high on information" although the girl's name is not specified. She was next mentioned in the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 2002 single "By the Way" as "Dani the girl". It is also possible that the character is alluded to in the 1999 single "Scar Tissue" from the "Californication" album through the lyrics "Blood loss in a bathroom stall/Southern girl with a scarlet drawl" and "Push me up against the wall/Young Kentucky girl in a push-up bra." Kiedis is quoted as saying: "When this funky groove came up it struck me as a perfect place to actually tell a story. It sort of revealed itself to me that it's been the same character, just kind of developing. At first I didn't realize that I was writing about the same girl."

Guitarist John Frusciante used various instruments and effects devices in order to achieve the textures and treatments used throughout the song, including Mellotron, Moog effect pedals, and a Doepfer modular synthesizer, used for the filtering and processing of pre-recorded tracks. Although it is sometimes low in the mix, the main riff, (which is heard primarily in the first verse) plays throughout as an underlying tone.


Shortly after its release, the originality of the song was questioned on the Dan Gaffney Morning Show on Delawaremarker based news/talk radio station WGMD 92.7 FM. Two of the station's talk show hosts Dan Gaffney and Jared Morris alleged that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had plagiarized Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' 1993 hit "Mary Jane's Last Dance". To demonstrate, they presented audio snippets of both songs, both side by side and simultaneously (i.e. on top of each other) several times. They stated that the chord progression, key, and the lyrical theme of the songs (both produced by Rick Rubin) showed "startling similarities" and urged listeners to "decide for themselves."

Although the chord progressions sound similar, they do in fact differ as "Mary Jane's Last Dance" follows "Am, G, D, Am" (A Dorian mode), while "Dani California" follows "Am, G, Dm, Am" (A minor). University of Chicagomarker musicologist Travis Jackson said the songs' chord progressions were similar, but were a "pretty standard groove" in music and not necessarily evidence of copying.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Petty denied rumors that he planned to sue the Chili Peppers and said, "I seriously doubt that there is any negative intent there. And a lot of rock & roll songs sound alike." Petty went on to say that The Strokes admitted that they took Tom Petty's riff for "American Girl" and used it in their song "Last Nite".

Dani California peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 (remaining for two weeks at that position) and #1 on the Modern Rock Tracks, remaining at the location for over 10 weeks. In the UK, the song fared even better, finding itself at the number 2 spot for one week, and eventually remaining on that chart for over 15 weeks.

The song is among the few tracks the Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded which have broken the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was a success, with "Dani California" accumulating over 500 weeks collectively on over 20 charts.

The song is offered as a playable track in Rock Band and is exportable to Rock Band 2 and/or any future versions of the main Rock Band series.

This song was used as the closer for Death Note: The Last Name and the intro for Death Note the movie.

Music video

The music video for "Dani California" premiered on MTV on April 4, 2006. Directed by Tony Kaye (who was only accepted after initial choice, Mark Romanek declined), director of American History X, the video is a quasi-chronology of the evolution of rock music; the band performs the song on a stage, but in a variety of outfits representing important figures and movements in the history of rock music.

Flea affirmed that "[The band] mainly did eras, not actual people: rockabilly, British Invasion, psychedelia, funk, glam, punk, goth, hair metal, grunge, and ourselves being the sum of all those parts." While the band's appearance was intentionally generic in each scene, obvious nods were made to certain specific artists, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, David Bowie, Buddy Holly, a Misfits Glenn Danzig, and Nirvana. The video finishes with the Red Hot Chili Peppers as themselves, occasionally flashing back to the imitated artists featured earlier in the film.

The video received ten nominations at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards; it won the award for Best Art Direction, failing to win its six other nominations for Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best Rock Video, Best Direction, Best Editing and Best Cinematography. The video was also nominated for an MMVA for best international video.

Track listing

CD single 1 5439 15759-2
  1. "Dani California" (album version) - 4:42
  2. "Million Miles of Water" – 4:06

CD single 2 9362 42925-2
  1. "Dani California" (album version) - 4:42
  2. "Whatev
7" picture disc single 5439 15758-7
  1. "Dani California" (album version) - 4:42
  2. "Whatever We Want" – 4:48

12" Picture disc single
  1. "Dani California" (radio edit) – 3:54
  2. "Dani California" (album version) - 4:42

Promotional single PR015735
  1. "Dani California" (radio edit) – 3:54

Chart performance

Chart (2006) Peak
Danish Singles Chart 1
Australian Top 40 Digital Tracks Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 4
Swiss Singles Chart 4
Norwegian Singles Chart 5
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Adult Top 40 5
U.S. Top 40 Mainstream 25
U.S. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
U.S. Hot Modern Rock Tracks 1

Chart (2006) Peak
New Zealand Chart 7
Irish Singles Chart 7
Austrian Singles Chart 7
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 8
Dutch Top 40 8
Belgian Singles Chart 9
German Singles Chart 12
French Singles Chart 57


  1. YouTube - Red Hot Chili Peppers "Dani California"

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