10 Essential Iggy Pop Songs


Dark image of punk vocalist Iggy Pop.

Audio Ink Radio presents 10 essential Iggy Pop songs – Author Anne Erickson, Photo via Rob Baker Ashton

Audio Ink Radio names 10 essential Iggy Pop songs from his discography

There’s a reason Iggy Pop is called the “Godfather of Punk.” He’s simply the blueprint for punk, in its purest form. The rowdy, rambunctious punk musician got is start causing mischief and mayhem in the late 1960s, launching one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most influential bands, the Stooges. Today, Pop is still releasing new music and still making waves, even in his 70s. So, what are some of the best Iggy Pop songs? These are essential songs that every punk fan should have in their collection.

Iggy Pop was born as James Newell Osterberg, Jr. in 1947. He formed the Stooges, one of the greatest proto-punk bands in the movement, in 1967. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 with the Stooges and have received many honors over the years. At this point, he has outlasted pretty much every punk movement, and he still stands with his own sound and style. That’s why Audio Ink Radio recently named Iggy Pop one of the greatest punk vocalists of all time.

Pop’s discography is lengthy and detailed. His first album with the Stooges, a self-titled release, dropped back in 1969. He released his first solo album, “The Idiot,” in 1977. He’s still churning out music today. Pop’s latest solo album, “Every Loser,” dropped in January 2023. His most recent record with the Stooges, “Ready to Die,” arrived in 2013. His live shows aren’t quite as blood-drenched as they were back in the day, but he can still bring it in concert.

In honor of the fearless and fiery musician, Audio Ink Radio names 10 essential Iggy Pop tracks to have in your collection. Moreover, reach out to us with your picks for the best Iggy Pop songs on our social media.

10. “Strung Out Johnny,” off “Every Loser”

It says a lot about Pop’s staying power and longevity that we’re including a brand new one of his tracks on this list of the best Iggy Pop songs from his entire career. “Strung Out Johnny” arrived on 2023’s “Every Loser,” offering a low-fi, sparse instrumental backing against Pop’s dark, charismatic vocals. Lyrically, “Strung Out Johnny” is about life as an addict, and it’s a very real song that shows Pop isn’t afraid to get serious and personal as the years go on.

9. “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” off “Ready to Die”

As with “Every Loser,” “Ready to Die,” which arrived in 2013, is another very strong release from the latter part of Pop’s career. The album marked the fifth and final studio album from Iggy and the Stooges. It proved Pop’s popularity, too, as it was the band’s highest-charting album on the Billboard 200 chart, debuting at No. 96. Furthermore, the album’s big single, “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” which starts with lots of great noise and feedback and launches into a vicious riff-heavy track. It’s a rager.

8. “Sunday,” off “Post Pop Depression”

When Pop released his 17th studio album in 2016, “Post Pop Depression,” there was little doubt that it would be a mammoth release. The record, Queens Of The Stone Age main man Josh Homme produced and co-wrote, was one of the most celebrated records of the year, proving that Pop will also be on top. While all the songs off “Post Pop Depression” have their moment, “Sunday” is the most dramatic. It’s a grandiose mid-tempo rocker that brings Pop’s dynamic vocals together with Homme’s razor riffs to great accord.

7. “Bang Bang,” off “Party”

We know what you’re thinking. How could we include a song off “Party” on this list? Many consider the 1981 album one of Pop’s weakest, as it’s very heavy on the pop vibe. But, it showed that Pop could flex his musical muscles. All in all, “Bang Bang” is a polished, pop-fueled nugget that shows Pop knows how to have fun.

6. “Funtime,” “The Idiot”

“The Idiot” arrived in 1977 and brought Iggy back together with Bowie. The two had worked together on some of Pop’s previous albums, but took a short hiatus before reconvening for “The Idiot.” “Funtime” truly brings Pop and Bowie’s sounds together, meshing Pop’s biting sound with Bowie’s theatrical style. That said, “Funtime” has become a signature song for Pop.

5. “Kill City,” off “Kill City”

The Stooges broke up in 1974, but that didn’t get Pop down. He started working with guitarist James Williamson, and the two put together songs that eventually became the “Kill City” record. The material was on hold for a few years, until Bomp Records decided to release the album. Bomp made a good decision, as “Kill City” is one of punk’s most legendary records. The album’s title track is a short, fast-paced punk anthem with a catchy hook.

4. “Johanna,” off “Kill City”

“Johanna” is another bright spot on “Kill City,” offering a super slippery groove that makes the listener want to move their hips. The song brings together a bevy of classic Iggy Pop sounds, including his coarse vocals and Williamson’s wicked guitars. It’s a shame that “Kill City” almost didn’t get released, because diamonds such as “Johanna” could have gone silent for decades or longer.

3. “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” off “The Stooges”

The Stooges’ 1969 self-titled debut album is one of the pillars of the punk genre. On it, “I Wanna Be Your Dog” stands out as Iggy Pop’s first real proto-punk hit. The song features thick, distorted guitars and simple three-chord progressions, which laid the groundwork for much of the punk movement. Moreover, Pop’s raw, rough, passion-drenched vocals are all over the song, and they compliment the track’s throbbing bass, sharp guitars and psychedelic bent.

2. “The Passenger,” off “Lust for Life”

David Bowie produced “The Passenger,” off “Lust for Life,” and he really captured Pop’s presence and talent with the recording. It’s a deep, dark travelogue, with a swaying tempo and unmistakable reggae-infused guitar riff. Along with the unique music in “The Passenger,” Pop provides a one-of-a-kind description of his dark journey in the song’s lyrics, which takes the listener though many dramatic ups and downs.

1. “Lust For Life,” off “Lust for Life”

It would be blasphemy to include anything but “Lust for Life” as the No. 1 song on our list of essential Iggy Pop songs. Not only is “Lust for Life” the epitome of an Iggy Pop song, it also sums up his aura in a simple, three-word phrase. The song actually was inspired by David Bowie’s attempt to imitate the Armed Forces Network call signal on a ukulele. It’s said there was reportedly a little rivalry in the recording sessions between Pop and Bowie, which made the recording extra fiery. Musically, the song brings Motown riffs, rebellious lyrics and an overall gusty presentation. “Lust for Life” is simply one of the greatest punk songs of all time. In fact, it’s also No. 1 on our tally of the best punk songs of all time.

Staying in the punk realm, find Audio Ink Radio’s feature on the best punk drummers of all time here.

Have an idea for a feature or comment? Contact Audio Ink Radio’s Anne Erickson at anne@audioinkradio.com.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Alternative, Music, Rock

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