They Say It’s Your Birthday celebrates an artist’s special day with other people singing his or her songs. Let others do the work for a while. Happy birthday!
Iggy Pop, born James Osterberg in Muskegon, Michigan, turns a remarkable 64 years old today. Remarkable because he spent so much time living on the edge. He arguably created punk rock with his band The Stooges in 1968, uniting the D.I.Y. ethic of mid-’60s garage rock with a nihilistic attitude and Jim Morrison-inspired performance antics. After three albums, Pop’s extreme drug abuse led to the demise of the band and a stint at an L.A. mental institution.
Rescued from becoming a cultural punchline by friend David Bowie, Pop has enjoyed a successful solo career ever since, including a mid-’90s revival spurred by the inclusion of several songs in the soundtrack to the movie Trainspotting. More recently he revived the Stooges and inducted Madonna into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! To celebrate his big day today, we’ve compiled our favorite Iggy Pop covers. In true Iggy fashion, it’s a rather bizarre set.
MP3: Grace Jones – Nightclubbing (Iggy Pop cover)
Grace Jones named her 1981 album Nightclubbing for the Pop song of the same title. Her cover sounds remarkably fresh for an artist so associated with the early ’80s, although she plays down the stalker-like foreboding of the original.
MP3: Siouxsie and the Banshees – The Passenger (Iggy Pop cover)
Siouxsie and the Banshees rose out of the punk movement that Pop inspired and paid tribute to him with this cover, off of their 1987 covers album Through The Looking Glass. This sunny (somewhat) makeover contrasts sharply with the dark lyric.
MP3: Peaches – Search and Destroy (The Stooges cover)
While musically different, Peaches shares Pop’s gonzo, in-your-face attitude. She shows her love here with her electro makeover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy,” the lead track from their last album Raw Power.
MP3: Kelly Willis – Success (Iggy Pop cover)
Kelly Willis countrifies Pop’s tongue-in-cheek ode to “Success.” The result is surprisingly faithful to the original, maintaining the song’s energy and even sounding like she recruited David Bowie to reprise his role as background vocalist!
MP3: Tom Jones with the Pretenders – Lust for Life (Iggy Pop cover)
Tom Jones, of all people, united with The Pretenders to record this track for his 1999 album Reload. Jones, who shares vocal duties with Chrissie Hynde, sounds surprisingly credible, although it is strange to hear him singing about having “had it in the ear before!”
Check out more Iggy Pop on his website.