Can't Stop (Red Hot Chili Peppers song)

"Can't Stop"
Single by Red Hot Chili Peppers
from the album By the Way
Released January 24, 2003
Format CD single
Recorded April 2002
Genre Funk rock, alternative rock
Length 4:29
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Flea, Frusciante, Kiedis, Smith
Producer(s) Rick Rubin
Red Hot Chili Peppers singles chronology
"The Zephyr Song"
"Can't Stop"
By the Way track listing
"The Zephyr Song"
"Can't Stop"
"I Could Die for You"
Live in Hyde Park track listing
"Can't Stop"
"Around the World"
Music sample
Can't Stop
Music video
"Can't Stop" on YouTube

"Can't Stop" is a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers from their 2002 album, By the Way. It is the third single released from the album.

The song was the Chili Peppers' eighth number one on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, where it spent three weeks topping the chart, and peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1] The song performed moderately well on various other charts worldwide,[2][3] as well as Modern Rock and Mainstream Rock charts, respectively.[1][4]

Music video

The Mark Romanek-directed music video for the single features all four of the band members doing seemingly random and excessively abstract actions such as holding lots of water bottles or attempting to balance buckets on their heads. It begins with the camera swooping through a yellow tube to Anthony Kiedis, wearing glasses, and is subsequently followed by the foursome running through a hall with light fixtures attached to their backs. The band engages in various activities, such as wearing a giant purple hippopotamus mask, playing with rubber balls, jumping, abstract scenes with boxes, buckets, water bottles, trash cans, flying through the air, pink foam peanuts, plants, playing guitar in a room full of empty blue chairs/room with lamps turning on and off. At the conclusion, a sign stands alone with white letters that arrange the phrase "Inspired by the 'One-Minute Sculptures' of Erwin Wurm".

At certain segments of the video, one can see guitarist John Frusciante playing an orange Toronado, which is unlike his style due to the fact that he only plays vintage guitars (the Toronado being under five years of age). Frusciante later explained he was instructed to play the guitar by director Mark Romanek since it blended well with the color scheme used in the video; he also noted that he was never actually playing the guitar.[5]

Inspiration for the video was attributed to Austrian artist Erwin Wurm.[6] The lighting was positioned in order to provide a clean-cut, contemporary atmosphere which would integrate with the video's concept.[6] Orange was chosen to be the backsplash color by Romanek. His creative hand attempted to mirror Wurm's abstract "One Minute Sculptures", by having the band perform random scenes, which seem to fit no purpose. However, in retrospect, they were not intended to be anything more than arbitrary actions, fitting with the ideas expressed in Wurm's work.

Composition and lyrical denotation

The song is instrumentally composed in 4/4 standard time and in the key of E minor and G major. The verse plays twice before the bridge, as well as the chorus. During the bridge, Frusciante plays sparsely in a reggae style, only strumming on the up-beat. Following the bridge, Frusciante utilizes a fuzz (Big Muff Pi by Electro Harmonix) in his solo. He also makes extensive use of a tone-bend.[7]

Lyrically, "Can't Stop" is a prime example of the band's occasional use of writing lyrics to an established rhythm, rather than rhythms to established lyrics.[8] Kiedis writes in his typical circumlocutory style. Nonetheless, the predominant theme of cultivating an inner, personal energy (evidenced in the title and the final line: "This life is more than just a read-through.") can be understood in almost every line. The verses are addressed to the listener (or perhaps to himself), in an instructional tone, with references to Kiedis's own life, as well as citing the inspiration of Defunkt and Julia Butterfly Hill. The bridge marks a slight departure, as Kiedis suggests he had temporarily forgotten this philosophy, and looks to a new girlfriend to help himself back on his feet.

Reception and chart performance

The song itself is distinct, especially when in comparison to the various other tracks on By the Way. Some consider the song to be among the only true punk/funk sounds on the entire album, along with "Throw Away Your Television".[9][10] "Can't Stop" was considered to be "energetic" and melodically encompassing, by combining textured, melodic, and funky themes together into one.

The song was the Chili Peppers' seventh number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, and second from the album By the Way. It also peaked at number 57 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1][2] Regardless of the moderate recognition it received on the Billboard Hot 100, the song is a live performance staple.[11]

Track listing

CD single 1
  1. "Can't Stop" (John Frusciante single mix) – 4:29
  2. "If You Have to Ask" (live)
  3. "Christchurch Fireworks Music" (live) – 5:42
CD single 2
  1. "Can't Stop" (John Frusciante single mix) – 4:29
  2. "Right on Time" (live)
  3. "Nothing to Lose" (live) – 12:58
CD single 3
  1. "Can't Stop" (John Frusciante single mix) – 4:29
  2. "Christchurch Fireworks Music" (live) – 5:42
7" single (2003)
  1. "Can't Stop" (John Frusciante single mix) – 4:29
  2. "Christchurch Fireworks Music" (live) – 5:43


Chart (2003) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 38
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 65
France (SNEP)[14] 68
Germany (Official German Charts)[15] 48
Ireland (IRMA)[16] 30
Italy (FIMI)[17] 22
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[18] 65
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[19] 40
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 70
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[21] 39
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[22] 22
US Billboard Hot 100[23] 57
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 15
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[24] Silver 200,000double-dagger
Preceded by
"No One Knows" by Queens of the Stone Age
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number-one single
March 8, 2003
Succeeded by
"Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence


  1. 1 2 3 Allmusic - Red Hot Chili Peppers Singles chart positions
  2. 1 2 "Worldwide Charts for "Can't Stop"". aCharts.
  3. "Worldwide Charts for "Can't Stop"". Music Square.
  4. Billboard Red Hot Chili Peppers' Singles Chart Position; Various Charts.
  5. The Making of Can't Stop: The Video - Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits
  6. 1 2 Red Hot Chili Peppers 'Can't Stop' video; interview with Director of Photography, Jeff Cuttler. .
  7. Can't Stop Guitar Commentary; John Frusciante
  8. Spin Magazine Interview. August 13, 2002.
  9. Rolling Stone Magazine; By the Way Review - Tom Moon
  10. PopMatters; By the Way Review - Kimberly Mack
  11. "Red Hot At The 'Dome". Rob Honzell, Calgary Sun.
  13. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  14. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop" (in French). Les classement single.
  15. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  16. "Chart Track: Week 12, 2003". Irish Singles Chart.
  17. "RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS - CAN'T STOP (SONG)" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  18. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  19. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop". Top 40 Singles.
  20. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop". Singles Top 100.
  21. " – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop". Swiss Singles Chart.
  22. "February 2003/ Archive Chart: 22 February 2003" UK Singles Chart.
  23. "Red Hot Chili Peppers – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Red Hot Chili Peppers. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  24. "British single certifications – Red Hot Chili Peppers – Can't Stop". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved October 24, 2016. Enter Can't Stop in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Silver in the field By Award. Click Search
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