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Best Alice Cooper Songs: 10 Classics From The Iconic Shock-Rocker
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List & Guides

Best Alice Cooper Songs: 10 Classics From The Iconic Shock-Rocker

The face paint and pythons are just props – it’s high-octane rock’n’roll which make the best Alice Cooper songs the stuff of legend.

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The original Alice Cooper band were a quintet from Phoenix, Arizona, led by Detroit native Vincent Furnier (born 4 February 1948), who later took the group’s name as his own. Their classic line-up existed barely five years but, in that time, they devised a unique brand of theatrical horror-rock that would be adapted by countless (and lesser) artists over the years. Yet Alice Cooper – both the band and the man – amounted to far more than guillotines, electric chairs and ominously large snakes. They also wrote era-defining, hard-driving rock songs which helped sustain their singer’s legacy after he embarked on his highly successful solo career in 1975. In celebration of this singular icon, we present the ten best Alice Cooper songs, both solo and with the band.

Listen to the best of Alice Cooper here, and check out our best Alice Cooper songs, below.

10: Only Women Bleed (from ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, 1975)

With seven albums and multi-platinum sales under their belt, the Alice Cooper band had already cemented their legend before their leader struck out as a solo artist, in 1975. He opened his account in spectacular fashion with Welcome To My Nightmare, a highly accomplished concept album based around the nightmares of a child named Steven and polished to perfection by KISS and Lou Reed producer Bob Ezrin.

One of several tracks on the album that could stake a claim to being among the best Alice Cooper songs, the glorious Only Women Bleed featured a smartly-observed lyric about domestic violence, viewed from a female perspective (“Man makes your hair grey/He’s your life’s mistake/All you’re really looking for is an even break”) and it benefitted from one of Cooper’s most emotive vocal performances, plus Ezrin’s bells-and-whistles production job. A brave and brilliant ballad, Only Women Bleed peaked at No.12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975 and later enjoyed a second season in the sun when Julie Covington’s impressive cover version made the UK Top 20 in 1978.

9: Be My Lover (from ‘Killer’, 1971)

Influential US rock writer Lester Bangs greeted the release of Alice Cooper’s fourth album, Killer, with a review which suggested the group were “a vital band, and they are going to be around for a long, long time”. Bangs was spot on: Killer later went platinum, and it remains a propulsive album that all discerning rock fans should make a beeline for. Strangely, its fantastic second single, Be My Lover, was only a minor hit on release, but its Sweet Jane-esque riff, infectious chorus and raunchy swagger have long since conspired to ensure its place among the best Alice Cooper songs.

8: Billion Dollar Babies (from ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, 1973)

Hitting their commercial peak with their sixth album, Billion Dollar Babies took the Alice Cooper band to No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic – quite a result for a record featuring songs dealing with difficult topics such as sexual harassment and, in the case of the controversial Raped And Freezin’, even necrophilia. The record’s chart success was matched by its artistic ambition, and it included several classic moments. Undeniably one of these, the album’s title track is a classic Alice Cooper rocker driven along by Neal Smith’s busy drumming, duelling lead guitars and Cooper’s creepy vocal, which was bolstered by guest star Donovan’s brilliant falsetto part.

7: Poison (from ‘Trash’, 1989)

Hard rock and heavy metal had moved into the realms of thrash by the time Alice Cooper released his final solo album of the 80s, but the singer proved his longevity with Poison, a high-gloss power ballad produced by Desmond Child, who was also responsible for then on-trend smashes such as Aerosmith’s Dude (Looks Like A Lady) and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer. Cooper stuck with Child for 1989’s Trash: a multi-platinum return to form which also featured the likes of Steven Tyler and Joan Jett, and thrust the singer right back into mainstream contention.

6: Welcome To My Nightmare (from ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, 1975)

Alice Cooper is renowned primarily for his theatrical stage shows and his trademark glam-rock sound, but his catalogue is more versatile than that suggests. Easily taking its place among the best Alice Cooper songs is the title track from the Detroit rocker’s high-profile 1975 solo debut album, Welcome To My Nightmare. A shape-shifting epic sprawling across five exhilarating minutes, it begins as an eerie acoustic outing before taking a jazzy detour or two and then riding a sinewy, Doors-like groove embellished with stabs of Stax-inflected brass.

5: No More Mr Nice Guy (from ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, 1973)

By some way the most linear-sounding of the singles culled from Billion Dollar Babies, No More Mr Nice Guy was driven by a neat, Keith Richards-esque riff, and it remains one of Alice Cooper’s signature songs. The track was reputedly inspired by the reactions of the singer’s mother’s church group to her son’s controversial stage performances, which were liable to include snakes, fake blood and decapitated heads. But while the lyric celebrates the outrage (“He said, ‘You’re sick, you’re obscene’”), the music kept things clean, and the song’s well-crafted catchiness ensured it seduced the airwaves and rewarded Cooper and co with a transatlantic Top 30 smash.

4: Under My Wheels (from ‘Killer’, 1971)

Under My Wheels was most UK fans’ first introduction to Alice Cooper, as the group performed a raunchy, reputation-building version of the song on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1971. The lead single from their terrific fourth album, Killer, this hard-driving rocker has served Cooper well, as he’s performed it without fail on all of his tours since. The song’s broad appeal has also led to numerous bands, including Hanoi Rocks, Manic Street Preachers and Foo Fighters, tackling it in their own live sets.

3: I’m Eighteen (from ‘Love It To Death’, 1971)

In different guises the Alice Cooper band slogged around the US underground from the mid-60s on, with their first two psychedelia-flavoured albums making little impression during the decade’s final years. However, that situation changed dramatically when the band signed with Warner Bros and enlisted an ambitious young producer, Bob Ezrin, who streamlined their sound and tightened up their songwriting smarts.

The new pairing soon paid dividends when the group’s 1971 album, Love It To Death, cracked the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 after its lead single, I’m Eighteen, peaked at No.21 in the Hot 1000. It’s easy to appreciate why this brooding anthem had such a universal appeal, for its most resonant lines (“I’m a boy and I’m a man/I’m 18 and I don’t know what I want”) perfectly encapsulate what most people feel as they journey from confused adolescence to disillusioned adulthood. Indeed, I’m Eighteen isn’t just one of the best Alice Cooper songs – it’s arguably the ultimate expression of teenage angst.

2: Elected (from ‘Billion Dollar Babies’, 1973)

Propelled by Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce’s dynamic riffing, the shape-throwing, Who-esque Elected was rush-released for the 1972 US presidential election, which resulted in Richard Nixon’s highly controversial second term at the White House. Fans may have baulked at the – some might say healthy – cynicism in Cooper’s lyric (“Kids want a saviour, don’t need a fake/I wanna be elected”), so while Elected was – and still is – an absolute belter of an anthem, it stalled at No.26 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, however, the song screamed up to No.4, and it remains as eloquent a commentary as any in rock about the hubris of politics and how easy it is to get fooled (again) down at the polling station.

1: School’s Out (from ‘School’s Out’, 1972)

Collectively, the best Alice Cooper songs provide our hero with a catalogue as enviable as any in the hard rock genre, but when it comes to singling out his ultimate anthem, School’s Out simply picks itself. Also the title cut of the Alice Cooper band’s fifth album, this rip-snorting, anti-establishment rocker again homed in on the teenage wasteland of I’m Eighteen, but this time it was celebratory rather than purely nihilistic, and its bang-on lyric (“We got no class, and we got no principals/And we got no innocence”) appealed to just about every teen (and pre-teen) on the planet. As one of the best songs about school – and its attendant drudgery – School’s Out retains that appeal half a century later.

Find out where School’s Out ranks among our best songs about school.

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