Alice Cooper, much like Wu-Tang, is for the children, and the Godfather of Shock Rock has some solid recommendations for young musicians just starting out.
Cooper said in a new interview with LA Weekly when asked what he looks for as a judge on the band competition show No Cover, “To me being a songwriter, I’m always saying everything revolves around how good the song is. You know, I don’t care how exciting you are up there. I said, spend your time listening to The Beatles. I tell young bands all the time, I want you to listen to The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons. They wrote perfect songs, right? Their records were perfect.”
He continued, “You can be an angry punk rock band, but write a song around it. Don’t just play a riff, or a drum part and yell at me. That’s not a song. You have to have a verse and a chorus. That’s why I want you to listen to early Beatles and the Beach Boys. You can be just as angry and have a good song. You don’t have to just throw it away. Too many bands just throw it away.”
Now, you heard Professor Cooper; go listen to the Beatles, Beach Boys and the Four Seasons! There’s probably going to be a test!
Alice Cooper: His 25 Greatest Songs
The final track on 1973’s ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ is without a doubt one of Alice Cooper’s creepiest. The song’s eerie piano-led introduction paired with scorching solos from guitarist Glen Buxton tackles exactly what Cooper is known for: humorously macabre subject matter.
One of the Alice Cooper Group’s grizzliest tracks - that features a violin solo nonetheless!
How do you take a song and make it both scary and fun? Add Vincent Price of course! “Devil’s Food” and “The Black Widow” set the scene for Alice’s first concept record. 1975’s ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ retells the nocturnal nightmares of a young boy named Steven and kicked Alice Cooper’s new solo career into high gear.
Although Alice Cooper is known for his upbeat, hard-rockin', anthemic tracks, his talents as not only a songwriter but a lyricist are vastly underrated. The sixth track on 1991’s ‘Hey Stoopid,’ clocking in at just over seven minutes, is a superb example of The Coop’s ability to write a tear-jerkin’ ballad.
In the late ‘80s, Alice Cooper - with the help of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith producer, Desmond Child - adapted to the newest generation of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. And since it was the ‘80s, of course, that also included a lot of Aquanet. The sixth track on 1989’s ‘Trash’ is a perfect example of Alice’s flawless transition to the hard rock of the time.
Since the start of Alice Cooper’s career, he’s had a reputation as a parent’s worst nightmare. But that hasn’t stopped him from appealing to the world’s youth – in fact, it probably helped. Songs like “School’s Out” and this one became youth anthems that transcended the era.
“She asked me why the singer’s name was Alice/I said listen, baby/You really wouldn’t understand.” Before ‘Wannabe’ by The Spice Girls, there was Alice Cooper. Written by original Alice Cooper Group guitarist Michael Bruce, this cut is a Cooper classic; fit with a catchy, boogie-esque riff and noteworthy guitar fills from Glen Buxton.
“Mommy, where’s daddy?/Do you think he’ll ever come home?” There’s no way this list could exist without including one of Alice Cooper’s most haunting tracks and a live show staple - usually sang in the shock rocker’s infamous straitjacket right before he gets the guillotine!
Although so many of the tracks in Alice Cooper’s catalog seem to revolve solely around the caricature of Alice Cooper, many of them translate into a way larger, more personal, picture. ‘Guilty’ seems to do the same thing, touching on the public’s consistent finger-pointing of Alice’s so-called ‘violent influence’ on the youth. “If you call that guilty/Well then, I guess I am.”
A.C. has always had a knack for writing stories, and he knocks it out of the park once again with this concept record, ‘Along Came A Spider’, which details the thoughts of a spider-obsessed serial killer on the hunt for his next victim. …we know, pretty on-brand for The Coop, right? This cut is one of the releases’ finest efforts.
Yet another example of Alice’s exquisite lyrical work. Though a tamer track from Cooper, “I Never Cry” seems to serve as a confessional and is arguably one of the rawest songs in his seemingly endless catalog
This upbeat, rockin’ track opens up the Alice Cooper Group’s third studio record; although ‘Love It To Death’ almost seems like their first (their first two albums, 1969’s ‘Pretties For You’ and 1970’s ‘Easy Action’ were good, but things really kicked in with ‘Love It To Death’). With the help of producer Bob Ezrin, also known for his later work with KISS and Pink Floyd, the Alice Cooper Group found the unique sound that would propel them into their next six records.
This atmospheric track is arguably one of the greatest album openers of the 1970s and was written with the sole purpose of opening up a mind-blowing rock and roll show… which is exactly what the Alice Cooper Group did on the Billion Dollar Babies tour. As seen in the shockingly bad, yet fantastic, ‘Good To See You Again Alice Cooper’ film.
Following a stay in a mental asylum in the late ‘70s to treat his alcoholism, Alice returned to his musical craft with a plethora of stories and characters that he used to create his greatest concept record yet, ‘From The Inside.’
After stepping out of the spotlight for three years, Cooper returned with a heavy metal roar on his 1986 record ‘Constrictor.’ The album, featuring muscle-bound shredder Kane Roberts, contains this cheesy yet memorable tune that was used in the film ‘Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.’
Originally written by Kim Fowley and the rest of The Hollywood Stars, the closer to 1975’s ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’ got the Alice Cooper treatment; including a rewrite of the verses and bridge.
Given Alice’s penchant for shock rock, it’s understandable that some fans may forget what a great balladeer he is. We love his ballads, and we hope we’ve made our point: Alice Cooper is one of the most underrated ballad writers of his generation! Every other slow jam previously mentioned on this list were just the training wheels for this one. From 1978’s ‘From The Inside’, this touching piece of musical genius chronicles the real story of Cooper coming home to his wife Sheryl after recovering from alcoholism and was based on a real letter written to Sheryl at the time.
“WE’RE NOT WORTHY! WE’RE NOT WORTHY!” This risque track is most known for its appearance in the 1992 music centric comedy, ‘Wayne’s World’, where Alice informs Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar the proper way to pronounce Milwaukee. (“It’s Mill-E-Wah-Que”).
The opener and title track of Alice’s solo debut is an instant classic, and the first time we hear the rough vocals of Cooper without the original band behind him. The song, although more atmospheric than any of Alice’s previous works at the time, contains some tasty fills from new guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. The almost funk influenced song contains a thumping bass line, horns, keys, and serves as a recipe for the next 40 years of Cooper’s career.
Featuring the Scottish singer Donovan on backing vocals, the title track from the Alice Cooper Group’s 1973 release is everything you want from an Alice Cooper song. It’s evil, rockin’, and of course, contains the band’s trademark sarcasm that’s, as always, a bit macabre.
The rubber burnin’ “Under My Wheels” is a testament to the Alice Cooper Group’s beginnings in the rock and roll city of Detroit, Michigan and displays a band that is young, hungry, and fired up. This fast paced rocker joins “School’s Out” and “I’m Eighteen” as the most performed songs in Cooper’s catalog.
Alice’s return to the world of hard rock in the mid 1980’s was led by the release of 'Constrictor’ (1986) and ‘Raise Your Fist And Yell’ (1987) - both commercial failures. With the help of producer Desmond Child, Alice navigated the terrain of ‘hair metal’ with the release of 1989’s ‘Trash,’ and most importantly, the album’s lead single: “Poison.” The song reached #7 on the Billboard 100 chart, and brought The Coop back to the forefront of hard rock and heavy metal.
In the words of Alice himself, “The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.” Although “School’s Out” wasn’t the Alice Cooper Group’s first hit on the Billboard charts, it was the hit that made them a household name. The single, celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, is still an anthem for children worldwide and signals the start of summer vacation.
This unforgettable track is the tune that brought Alice Cooper to American airwaves, garnered the attention of the mainstream masses, and proved that the group had what it takes to join the forces of hard rock. The song tackles the often confusing stage of life between adolescence and adulthood and remains a staple in Cooper’s live show.
And lastly, coming in at the coveted number one spot is the Alice Cooper track that skyrocketed 1973’s 'Billion Dollar Babies' to #1 on the Billboard 100 chart. Cooper told Ultimate Classic Rock back in 2018 that the tune was 100% “autobiographical.” He says, “Everybody at that point didn’t know whether to love us or hate us. But I was definitely, with the general public, the worst person ever. I was the Antichrist.” Well, the Antichrist with the help of his bandmates penned one of hard rock’s most remarkable tracks that features doo-wop style background vocals, a sing-along chorus, and the dark satire that makes Alice Cooper… well… Alice Cooper.