Before Alice Cooper was a man, it was a band. Formed in 1964, Alice Cooper featured Vincent Furnier on vocals and harmonica, Glen Buxton on lead guitar, and Dennis Dunaway on bass. A couple of years later, they expanded their ranks to include Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar and Neal Smith on drums. Between 1969 and 1975, they released 7 albums (bands worked quickly in those days). Eventually, internal disagreements and a heavy touring schedule got the better of them. In 1975, the band disbanded. Alice Cooper, however, lived on. Having taken a liking to the name, Furnier decided to keep it, adopting it as both his legal name and his stage name. Irrespective of whether we’re talking about the band or the man, Alice Cooper has helped shape the sound of heavy metal and, thanks to a very particular brand of horror, its look too. These are the 10 best Alice Cooper songs of all time.
Some people hate it, some people love it. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, you can’t deny that Poison was a huge hit, giving Cooper his first Top Ten hit in over a decade and signaling the end of his wilderness years. Any list of the best Alice Cooper songs of all time (or the best classic rock songs of all time, for that matter) simply wouldn’t be complete without it. Sure it’s so ’80s it makes your teeth hurt, but Cooper’s raw intensity keeps it from sliding into pop-metal hell in the metal genre.
9. Under My Wheels
By 1971, Alice Cooper was four albums into his career with Alice Cooper the band (yep, it’s confusing) and about to deliver one of his/ their best ever performances. Under My Wheels is a showstopper, driven along by a chugging guitar riff and some of Cooper’s most devastating vocals. For once, the signature theatrics have been laid aside in favor of some straight-up rock and roll. It was a wise move and one that, after listening to this, you kind of wished they’d done more often.
Pretties For You, Alice Cooper’s debut single, is criminally underrated. Those that have heard it (and there’s not many), either hate it with a passion or love it to the moon and back. Those who hate it should really lay aside their prejudices and take another listen. It may have more in common with garage rock than shock rock, but it’s still a wonderful thing, with Living standing out as one of its highlights. A chaotic, raunchy rocker with some fabulous guitar licks and even more fabulous vocals, it’s one of the lost wonders of rock.
7. Generation Landslide
In 1973, Billion Dollar Babies sent Alice Cooper’s career skyrocketing. It went to No.1 in the UK, No.1 in the US, and spawned a series of hit singles. Generation Landslide wasn’t one of them, but that doesn’t make it any less noteworthy. An acoustic guitar-driven piece of ballsy rock and roll, it drips with attitude. Cooper sounds as tough as nails, spitting out the lyrics (which rank as some of his best ever) with enough venom to floor an army.
6. No More Mr. Nice Guy
As Louder Sound says, No More Mr. Nice Guy is one of those classic pieces of riff-rock that you instantly recognize from hearing the opening riff. A classic rock radio staple, it sailed to No. 25 in the US and No. 10 in the UK, helping turn Billion Dollar Babes into Alice Cooper’s most commercially successful album. According to Cooper, he wrote the song after his mother’s church group took offense at his stage performances. Feeling there were worst things he could be doing with his life than ripping the heads off chickens and drinking their blood (although apparently, that never really happened), he decided the gloves were off and proceeded to produce this vitriolic declaration of independence.
5. Billion Dollar Babies
Billion Dollar Babies was the band’s biggest commercial hit, reaching number 1 in the album charts. Its titular track, like the rest of the album, is excellent. Somewhat oddly, it features a guest vocal from Donovan, the hippie-dippie Scottish singer who five years earlier had been boasting to all and sundry about how he was going to be bigger than Bob Dylan. Obviously, that didn’t happen, but for all the weirdness of the combination, he and Cooper sound a remarkably good fit.
4. Halo of Flies
Named by ultimateclassicrock.com as one of Alice Cooper’s most underrated songs, Halo of the Flies is little short of electrifying. It has the theatrics, the pomp, and the circumstance, but it’s daring and eclectic enough not to be overwhelmed by them. When Cooper finally kicks in with the lyrics after the long instrumental intro, it’s spine-tingling.
3. Dead Babies
Dead Babies may have given Cooper an excuse to chop the heads off of dolls onstage, but it also gave us an incredible tune. An anti-child abuse anthem that describes (in typically gruesome detail) what happens when you leave the kids home alone, it manages to be part horror movie, part true-crime documentary, and all the better for both.
2. I’m Eighteen
As azcentral.com writes, very few rock songs have managed to capture the angst and the glory of those awkward teen years quite so well as I’m Eighteen. Written before Alice Cooper turned themselves into the sonic equivalent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the song finds them doing what they did best – writing songs for and about the disillusioned, the hopeless, and the young. “I’m a boy and I’m a man / I’m 18, and I don’t know what I want,” Cooper sneers, thus verbalizing the dilemma of every 18 year old kid in existence.
1. School’s Out
After years spent trying and failing to make it, Alice Cooper finally cracked the Top 10 with their fifth album, School’s Out. Its titular track, meanwhile, gave them their first Top 10 single. It was most people’s first introduction to the world of Alice Cooper, and even today, it still serves as their best-known song in the rock music world. A fist-pumping celebration of freedom, it showcases the band’s talent for tapping into teenage dreams and putting them to words. “We got no class / And we got no principles / And we got no innocence / We can’t even think of a word that rhymes” – witty, insightful, and incredibly radio-friendly, School’s Out represents everything there is to love about Alice Cooper… man and band alike.