There’s no question that we could all stand to learn a thing or two from Iggy Pop. The “Godfather of Punk”—who is still kicking serious ass well into his sixties, despite having weathered lengthy relationships with heroin and numerous other personal demons along the way—remains a shirtless object lesson in survival, resilience, and staying true to yourself throughout your life and career. And as a performer, Iggy has always been far more savvy in his approach to stagecraft than his “wide-eyed wild man” persona might otherwise lead one to expect, which is why we think the contestants on NBC’s The Voice would do well to heed the lessons imparted by these five fantastic Iggy concert clips.
Lesson One: Interact with your audience
Barely two minutes into the Stooges’ speaker-shredding rendition of “TV Eye,” Iggy is already making his first foray into the crowd at 1970’s Cincinnati Pop Festival, and it certainly won’t be his last. The highlight of this clip comes at the 4:00 mark, when Iggy hoists himself up onto the hands of the assembled multitude before accepting (and smearing himself with) a proffered jar of peanut butter—much to the complete befuddlement of former Today announcer Jack Lescoulie, whose thoroughly squaresville play-by-play of the event makes Carson Daly sound like Hunter S. Thompson.
Lesson Two: Utilize the lower end of your vocal range
Thanks to the likes of Mariah Carey and Muse’s Matt Bellamy, an entire generation of singers has grown up thinking that flights of falsetto are the ultimate in vocal money shots. But as demonstrated in this 1977 performance of Iggy’s classic track “The Passenger” (which begins at the 2:15 mark, following his interview with Tony Wilson for the U.K. TV show So It Goes), there’s also substantial power and mystery in a good croon. That “pony tail” he’s wearing out of the back of his pants has its charms as well.
Lesson Three: Just be natural
That’s what Iggy tells his band, right before they launch into this searing 1981 performance of “Five Foot One” on The Tomorrow Show, and you could hardly accuse him of failing to follow his own advice. Sure, he inexplicably keeps his shirt on for once, but his bug-eyed delivery and high-kicking, back-bending stage moves—and the chorus of “I wish life could be/Swedish magazines”—are all pure Pop.
Lesson Four: Dance like you mean it
There’s nothing remotely graceful about Iggy’s dancing during this 1991 Paris performance of “Lust for Life”; in fact, his movements greatly resemble a playground spazz-out from a petulant, sugared-up six year-old. But that’s kind of the point: after all, pairing this unrepentant anthem of survival with a choreographed dance routine would be far more ridiculous than Iggy hopping around the stage with his pants around his ankles.
Lesson Five: Own it
On paper, the prospect of a gristly, half-naked 67-year-old man belting out a 40-year-old song about groupie action sounds like a pretty dicey prospect, indeed. But this Iggy and the Stooges performance of “Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell”—captured live in Australia in the spring of 2013—works precisely because Iggy doesn’t give a damn about others’ perceptions, or how a man of his age should or shouldn’t comport himself. He simply dives into the song and lets it all hang out, essentially reveling in the fact that his own pretty face went to hell years ago.
Oh, and if you’re going on The Voice and don’t know which Iggy song to cover, here’s our Iggy introduction playlist with a few tracks to consider.