The original Alice Cooper band -- a quintet led by Detroit native Vincent Furnier, who took the group's name as his own -- lasted a little more than five years. During that time, the band practically invented a style of theatrical horror rock that would be adapted by countless (and lesser) artists over the years. But Alice Cooper, the band and the man, were more than just guillotines, electric chairs and big-ass snakes; they had great songs that fed their visually exciting stage shows, which were like splashy Broadway productions for people who liked bloody monster movies. The singer went solo in 1975, taking the name and the shock-theater shows with him. Our list of the Top 10 Alice Cooper Songs spans 20 years of mayhem.
"Desperado"From: 'Killer' (1971)
At various times Cooper has stated that the Killer album track "Desperado" was about Jim Morrison or a character in the movie The Magnificent Seven. Either way, the song chronicles the story of a young guy with a death wish. It's part western fantasy, part gunslinger tale and all fuzzy bluster from a self-mythologizing renegade.
"Welcome to My Nightmare"From: 'Welcome to My Nightmare' (1975)
By the time Cooper went solo in 1975, he was fully invested in his persona as host of whatever horrors haunt the modern world. The Welcome to My Nightmare LP was both concept album and soundtrack to a TV special (yes, it had gotten to that point). It even included a hit ballad, "Only Women Bleed." The title track shuffles along a groove that steers from disco to jazz to hard rock to horn-blasted R&B in a matter of five minutes.
"Be My Lover"From: 'Killer' (1971)
With a riff borrowed from the Velvet Underground and an attitude copped from the Rolling Stones, "Be My Lover" ranks as one of the original Alice Cooper band's best and most conventional songs. The song didn't make the Top 40 (it stalled at No. 49), but its arena-ready guitar lines and pop-leaning chorus are among Cooper's best.
"Poison"From: 'Trash' (1989)
After a decade of irrelevance, Cooper returned in 1989 with his best album in years, Trash. "Poison," its opening track and first single, became Cooper's first Top 10 hit since 1977's icky ballad "You and Me" and tied "School's Out" (see No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Alice Cooper Songs) as his highest-charting song. "Poison" sounds like a typical '80s pop-metal number at times, but Cooper's intensity brings it to a whole other level.
"Under My Wheels"From: 'Killer' (1971)
The first single from the band's fourth album features one of the original quintet's best-ever performances. From the stumbling drums that intro the song to the chugging guitar riff that fuels it to one of Cooper's toughest vocals, "Under My Wheels" is straight-up rock 'n' roll played by a band whose greatness was often overshadowed by its theatrics.
"Billion Dollar Babies"From: 'Billion Dollar Babies' (1973)
One of the last great blasts by the original Alice Cooper band was also the title track of their only No. 1 album. Featuring vocal assist by hippie-dippy '60s Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan, "Billion Dollar Babies," like "Elected" (see No. 3 on our list of the Top 10 Alice Cooper Songs), works better within the context of the album than as a single. Still, last hurrah and all that.
"No More Mr. Nice Guy"From: 'Billion Dollar Babies' (1973)
Unlike the other singles released from Alice Cooper's only No. 1 album, the fourth makes a killer radio cut. Armed with a massive hook and a jabbing guitar riff, "No More Mr. Nice Guy" remains one of Cooper's signature songs, a declaration of independence by an artist who was breaking rules from the start.
"Elected"From: 'Billion Dollar Babies' (1973)
"Elected" was originally released as a single in the fall of 1972, just in time for the presidential election. The riff-driven rocker -- the follow-up to Cooper's first Top 10 hit, "School's Out" (see No. 1 on our list of the Top 10 Alice Cooper Songs) -- made it to the Top 30. The album, Billion Dollar Babies, was Cooper's only No. 1.
"I'm Eighteen"From: 'Love It to Death' (1971)
Alice Cooper's initial appeal wasn't so much the snakes, blood and decapitated heads; it was the anthems for hopeless youth they cranked out with regularity back in the day. Their breakthrough hit captures this perfectly. Little else sums up disillusioned teens heading into even more crushing adulthood better than the immortal lines "I'm a boy and a I'm a man / I'm 18, and I don't know what I want."
"School's Out"From: 'School's Out' (1972)
The band's fifth album finally took them to the Top 10. And its opening cut, first single and title track became their first Top 10 (and first Top 40) hit. And like their breakthrough song "I'm Eighteen" (see No. 2 on our list of the Top 10 Alice Cooper Songs), "School's Out" tapped into teenage wasteland. But this time it's more celebratory: a radio-ready and totally fist-pumping anthem marking the last day of school. Few verses in the history of rock are as casually inspired as "We got no class / And we got no principles / And we got no innocence / We can't even think of a word that rhymes." A true classic.