20 Great Iggy Pop Collaborations - Rolling Stone
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20 Great Iggy Pop Collaborations

Bowie, Ke$ha and opera: The wild one’s best team-ups

Iggy Pop; Best; Collabs

Iggy Pop has had no shortage of collaborations in a nearly 50-year career.


Iggy Pop's gift for improvising lyrics as muscular and sinewy as his body has made him a natural collaborator over his nearly 50-year career. Though David Bowie may have been his best-known musical partner, Iggy has sung with a ridiculously diverse crew of musicians: the earliest punks and new-wavers of the Seventies, minimalist classical composers, electronic polyglots and pop stars whose careers couldn't have existed without his influence – many whom weren't even born when the Stooges were formed. In anticipation of his upcoming Post Pop Depression album with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, here are 20 of his most fascinating team-ups.

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

John Moran, ‘The Manson Family: An Opera’ (1990)

Iggy began a second career as an actor in the Eighties, which seemed like a natural enough progression. He started with walk-ons in Sid & Nancy and The Color of Money; and, if you were born in the Eighties, you probably knew him better as Nona's dad on The Adventures of Pete & Pete than the self-slashing hedonist behind "Search and Destroy." But in his most unusual role, Pop became an opera star. The Manson Family was the second opera written by Philip Glass protégé John Moran, and it featured Iggy as "the Prosecutor," a.k.a. Vincent Bugliosi, the man who not only became famous in the Seventies for squaring off against Charles Manson in the courtroom but who also wrote the best-selling book Helter Skelter.

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Goran Bregović, ‘Arizona Dream’ Soundtrack (1992)

Goran Bregović had previously composed a score for fellow Serbian Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies, and for the director's next film – a surreal mix of drama and comedy set in the U.S. with an oddball cast that includes Johnny Depp, Jerry Lewis and Paulina Porizkova – the composer augmented his cinematic take on Balkan music with a distinctive guest. Iggy never sounds out of place, even when he's inserting topical lyrics like "Robert Maxwell had a yacht but he didn't die so groovy," name-checking the British publisher whose fraud allegations became tabloid fodder in the Nineties after drowning in the Mediterranean. Be sure to watch the video for "In the Deathcar" for the opportunity to see Iggy excitedly introduce his cat Mookie Moo.

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Les Rita Mitsouko, “My Love is Bad” (1993)

Guitarist Fred Chichin and singer Catherine Ringer formed their French pop-rock group Les Rita Mitsouko in 1980. By the time they invited Iggy to sing along more than a dozen years later, they were major stars throughout Europe. Native speakers might still hear a little too much Michigan in Iggy's French, but "My Love is Bad" would hardly be Pop's final Francophiliac fling – the two albums that preceded his new Post Pop Depression included multiple French-language songs.

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Death in Vegas, “Aisha” (1999)

In the days of the "electronica" boom, this British duo made a name for themselves as a hard-driving instrumental act, mixing electronics and live instrumentation over a steadily driving beat. For their second album, they brought in several distinctive guest vocalists: Jim Reid of Jesus and Mary Chain, Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream and, of course, Iggy Pop. Iggy begins his nihilistically intoned spoken-word recitation by reintroducing himself: "Aisha/We only just met/And I think you ought to know/I'm a murderer." He follows with a bizarre choking interlude and the sort of crazed yowl we weren't sure he still had in him at the time.

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

At the Drive-In, “Rolodex Propaganda” and “Enfilade” (2000)

In the late Nineties, nu-metal superproducer Ross Robinson was talking to Iggy about recording an album. That project  never happened, but he did visit the studio where Robinson was recording post-hardcore Texans At the Drive-In's high-octane commercial breakthrough, Relationship of Command. Pop can be heard distinctively on "Rolodex Propaganda" – you don't ask Iggy Pop to sing back-up if you want him to blend in – but his big moment comes at the start of "Enfilade." A woman answers the phone only to hear a cryptically creepy message from a kidnapper that begins, "Hello, mother leopard, I have your cub."

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

‘Skull Ring,’ feat. Green Day, Peaches and Sum 41 (2003)

The man who invented Pop-punk never exactly played pop-punk, but that doesn’t mean its younger practitioners weren’t eager to acknowledge their debt. On his guest-studded 14th album Skull Ring, Sum 41 back Iggy on “Little Know It All,” and the band’s singer, Deryck Whibley, would later credit Pop with helping him stay sober. Green Day also appeared on two songs: “Private Hell,” a punched-up revamp of “The Passenger” and the Clash-y shout-along “Supermarket.” But Pop’s sensibility meshes best with smutty performance artist Peaches on her two guest tracks: “Rock Show” rhymes with “big, gigantic cock show,” and their repetitive deconstruction of the word “titties” on “Motor Inn” sounds like some rediscovered dirty verse from “Surfin’ Bird.” The following year, Pop would appear on Peaches’ track “Kick It,” in which each sorts through the other’s catalog. (Peaches: “I wanna be your cat.” Iggy: “Screw that.”)

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, “Pain” (2009)

Dark Night of the Soul, a collaborative album between electronic producer Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous' indie-pop group Sparklehorse, is mostly notorious because EMI refused to release it for more than a year – the album wasn't commercially available until after Linkous' suicide in 2010. Each song features a different singer, and Linkous handed Iggy some of his darkest lyrics: "A massive headache in my aging skull/Means I do not feel well," with a simple chorus of "Pain, pain, pain."

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Slash, “We’re All Gonna Die” (2010)

The guest list on Slash's first solo album, Slash, is way more imaginative than its title – Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Levine, Fergie, Kid Rock and a bonus track featuring an Alice Cooper/Nicole Scherzinger duet. And then there's Iggy. It wasn't the first time Slash and Pop had worked together – along with his Guns 'N Roses bandmate, bassist Duff McKagan, the guitarist played on Iggy's 1990 album Brick by Brick and wrote the music for "My Baby Wants to Rock and Roll." On the chorus here, Iggy suggests different ways we should logically behave once we accept our universal mortality: "So let's get high" but also "So let's be nice," though neither of these seems to excite him nearly as much as the opportunity to "Pee on the ground/And jump around."

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Ke$ha, “Dirty Love” (2012)

Ke$ha flaunted her rock side on second album Warrior, and "Dirty Love" was one of her victories. Over a big "Lust for Life"-style beat, she shouts, "It's Iggy Pop!" and he shouts back, "Yeah! And–," then nearly whispers, "Kesha." Iggy's verse is something like a scuzz-punk take on Cole Porters' "Let's Do It," with lines like "Cockroaches do it/In garbage cans" and "Santorum did it/In a v-neck sweater." Unfortunately, Iggy's voice was excised from the version used for the music video, but at least Iggy-worthy lyrics like "Champagne tastes like piss to me" and "Keep your leopard limousine" remain for Ke$ha to sing. 

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

Iggy Pop & Bethany Cosentino “Let’s Boot and Rally” (2012)

"Iggy's people had reached out to me saying he was a True Blood fan and if any opportunities come up, to please keep Iggy in mind," the show's music supervisor, Gary Calamar, said. So when Calamar and songwriter James Combs composed a track to play over the credits of an episode from the frisky vampire saga's fifth season, they made the call. Best Coast singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino joins in on the second verse.

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

New Order, “Stray Dog” (2015)

In 2014, Iggy Pop sang Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" along with New Order's Bernard Sumner at a Carnegie Hall benefit concert. "I can imagine Ian [Curtis] smiling when we did it. It would have meant a lot to him," Sumner told Rolling Stone afterward, recalling how he and the Joy Division singer had initially bonded over The Idiot. After their live duet, Sumner began jotting some lyrics down between gigs, and when they added up to a song, he emailed Iggy to ask if he wanted to sing it. After Iggy agreed, drummer Stephen Morris, remembering the thick vinyl of his copy of The Stooges, embarrassed himself in front of the legend. He recalls himself saying, "That first Stooges record, man. That was a really heavy record. Oh, God. I meant it weighed a lot. Not that it was … Oh, fuck. I've really made a mess of this, haven't I?"

Iggy Pop; Best; Collaborations

“Post Pop Depression” (feat. Josh Homme) (2016)

Josh Homme got a text message last year. "It basically said, 'Hey, it would be great if we got together and maybe write something sometime – Iggy,'" he recalls. With no label support, the Queens of the Stone Age main man began recording Iggy Pop's first rock solo rock record in 13 years, along with QOTSA's Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders. Pop has been suggesting the album may be his last, and he and Homme have been discussing the sessions with the wearied sense of unshakable mutual appreciation you usually hear from war buddies. Pop said Homme "took me to a place I'd never been," and Homme concurred: "This was to go where neither of us had gone before. That was the agreement. And to go all the way."

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