The Idiot is the debut studio album by Iggy Pop, released in 1977. Made after the breakup of The Stooges, is the first of two albums (the other being Lust for Life) written and recorded with help from David Bowie whose own albums Station to Station, Low, and "Heroes" are similar in theme.
The album is most remembered for the hits "Sister Midnight", "China Girl" and "Nightclubbing" and was a major influence on a number of post-punk, electronic and industrial rock musicians in the following decades. David Bowie would later rewrite "Sister Midnight" as "Red Money" for his own album Lodger (1979) and cover "China Girl" on Let's Dance (1983).
On a less pleasant note, the album is infamous for the fact that Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis listened to it shortly before killing himself in 1980; it was still spinning on his turntable when his body was found. A similar case would occur with R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain 14 years later. By coincidence, R.E.M. had previously covered "Funtime" as a B-Side to their 1989 single "Get Up".
- "Sister Midnight" (4:19)
- "Nightclubbing" (4:14)
- "Funtime" (2:54)
- "Baby" (3:24)
- "China Girl" (5:08)
- "Dum Dum Boys" (7:12)
- "Tiny Girls" (2:59)
- "Mass Production" (8:24)
We learn tropes, brand new tropes, like the nuclear bomb...
- Album Title Drop: "Sister Midnight"I'm an idiot for you
- Atomic Hate: "Nightclubbing"We learn dances, brand new dances, like the nuclear bomb
- Dancing Is Serious Business: "Nightclubbing", a song about people who go out to night clubs and see it as a way of life.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover.
- Den of Iniquity: The drug world portrayed in the songs.
- Dirty Old Man: "Tiny Girls"When you only want just a tiny girlAnd you hope she'll sing.So you turn aroundToward the tiny girlsWho have got no tricksWho have got no past
- Drugs Are Bad: "Dum Dum Boys", written by Iggy to commemorate all the people he knew and are now lost because of fatal drug overdoses.
- Epic Rocking: Three tracks ("China Girl", "Dum Dum Boys" and "Mass Production") are over five minutes.
- Evil Colonialist: "China Girl" is an interesting case because Pop effectively admits to being one himself. The song was cowritten by Bowie, who detested racism. (The line about "visions of swastikas in my head" probably relates to how the swastika is a good luck symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism that was appropriated and perverted by the Nazis.)I'd stumble into townJust like a Sacred CowVisions of swastikas in my headAnd plans for everyoneIt's in the white of my eyesMy little China girlYou shouldn't mess with meI'll ruin everything you areI'll give you televisionI'll give you eyes of blueI'll give you men who want to rule the world
- Face on the Cover: A photo of Iggy striking a pose in the nighttime snow.
- Growing Up Sucks: "Baby".Baby, please stay young.
- In the Style of...: Bowie advised Iggy Pop to sing "Funtime" like Mae West.
- Mistaken Nationality: Iggy Pop's infatuation for an Asian woman was the inspiration for "China Girl". Even though she was actually Vietnamese.
- One-Word Title: "Nightclubbing", "Funtime", "Baby".
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "Dum Dum Boys" was written by Iggy in remembrance of real-life people he knew who succumbed to their wild lifestyle.
- Repurposed Pop Song: Bowie re-worked "Sister Midnight" with new lyrics and a new title as "Red Money" on his 1979 album Lodger. The song "China Girl" would later be re-recorded by David Bowie on his album Let's Dance (1983).
- Self-Deprecation: Despite its unflattering title it's still Iggy who we see on the album cover.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: "Funtime", "Nightclubbing", and "Dum Dum Boys" both romanticize as well as criticize the shallow lifestyle of people just partying on.Nightclubbing we're nightclubbingWe're walking through townNightclubbing we're nightclubbingWe walk like a ghostWe learn dances brand new dancesLike the nuclear bombWhen we're nightclubbingBright white clubbingOh isn't it wild ...?
- The title is a shout-out to the literary classic The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
- The album cover was inspired by German impressionist painter Erich Heckel's Roquairol. Cover photographer Masayoshi Sukita would use the same painting as the basis for the "Heroes" album art later that year.
- "Funtime" references Dracula.
- Dum Dum Girls have said their name was inspired both by the Iggy Pop song "Dum Dum Boys" and the Vaselines song and album Dum Dum.
- Spoken Word in Music: "Dum Dum Boys" starts off with Iggy asking questions about people he knew, but all of them turn out to have either died from drug abuse or cleaned up their act.
- Studio Chatter: Some faint chatter can be heard at the start of "Funtime".
- Too Dumb to Live: "Dum Dum Boys" about people who were so stupid to take drugs and die from it.