The Idiot is the debut solo album by American rock singer Iggy Pop. It was the first of two LPs released in 1977 which Pop wrote and recorded in collaboration with David Bowie. Although issued after Low, the opening installment of Bowie's so-called Berlin Trilogy, the pair began writing and recording songs for The Idiot in mid-1976, before Bowie started work on his own album. As such, The Idiot has been claimed as heralding the unofficial beginning of Bowie's 'Berlin' period, being compared particularly to Low and "Heroes" in its electronic effects, treated instrument sounds, and introspective atmosphere. A departure from the hard rock of his former band the Stooges, the album is regarded by critics as one of Pop’s best works, but is not generally considered representative of his output. Its title was inspired by Dostoyevsky's novel The Idiot, three of the participants in the recording—Bowie, Pop and Tony Visconti—being familiar with the book
Although the bulk of The Idiot was recorded before Low, the initial installment of the 'Berlin Trilogy', Bowie's album was released first, in January 1977, while Pop's was held over until March. Laurent Thibault opined that "David didn’t want people to think he'd been inspired by Iggy’s album, when in fact it was all the same thing". In 1981, NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray suggested that The Idiot's electronic sound had been "pioneered" on Low whereas by 2000, Nicholas Pegg would describe it as "a stepping stone between Station to Station and Low.
The Idiot made #30 in the UK, the first time any of Iggy Pop's records had cracked the Top Forty. It also peaked at #72 in the U.S. charts. "Sister Midnight" and "China Girl" were released as singles in February and May 1977, respectively—both with the same B-side, "Baby". Biographer Paul Trynka has written that The Idiot "would remain an album that was more respected than loved, the reviews mostly neutral" but that it "prefigured the soul of post-punk" On its original release Rolling Stone termed it "the most savage indictment of rock posturing ever recorded ... a necrophiliac's delight".