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The song has become an inspiration to other artists, and remains a seminal component of the alternative rock movement of the early and mid-1990s.
It won the "Viewer's Choice Award" and "Breakthrough Video" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.Rubin suggested that Kiedis show it to the rest of the band: "I thought it was beautiful.I said 'We've got to do this.'" After singing the poem to guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea, Kiedis recalls that they "got up and walked over to their instruments and started finding the beat and guitar chords to match it".When Frusciante began playing "Under the Bridge", Kiedis missed his cue and the entire audience began singing the song instead.Kiedis was initially "mortified that I had fucked up in front of Warner's people [...] I apologized for fucking up but they said 'Fucking up? When every single kid at the show sings a song, that's our next single'." "Under the Bridge" became the album's second single in March 1992; upon release, journalist Jeff Apter noted that it "was the bona fide, across-all-formats radio hit that the band had been working towards for seven years." Ben Di Pietro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch praised the record as a whole, but was most impressed by the Chili Peppers' shift from exclusive hard rock to adding more moderately paced tracks: "there's still plenty of sonic funk to bang heads to, but the best tracks are the slower ones such as 'Under the Bridge'".