"Hello! Hooray! Let the show begin. I've been ready...."
A heavy metal/hard rock artist from Detroit
, Michigan, Vincent Damon Furnier (February 4, 1948-) was originally the frontman of a band called Alice Cooper. However, with the release of his first solo album, Welcome to My Nightmare
, in 1975, Furnier started to use the name of the band as his stage name. He has since legally changed his name to this. The split was entirely amicable, probably because Furnier pays royalties to his former bandmates for the right to use the name.
Cooper's career started in 1964, when his band was named The Spiders. In 1969, they renamed themselves Alice Cooper and released their debut album, Pretties for You
. Their first major breakthrough was in 1971 with the release of the song "I'm Eighteen" on the album Love it to Death
. The song was followed up with what is considered Cooper's Signature Song
, "School's Out" in 1972. In 1973, they released their most commercially successful album, Billion Dollar Babies
, which reached #1 in both the US and UK. Their next album, Muscle of Love
, was less successful, but still reached #10 on the Billboard Pop Albums
chart. This was the last album recorded by the original Alice Cooper band, which afterwards, as mentioned before, Furnier took the name Alice Cooper and released Welcome to My Nightmare
. His most recent release is Welcome 2 My Nightmare
, in 2011.
Cooper's career spans 45 years with 26 albums, and is often cited as one of the most influential performers in the hard rock genre. Bob Dylan
even commented in a 1978 interview that he thought "Alice Cooper is an overlooked songwriter". Cooper's stage shows are known for their shock value and vaudevillian influences, of which Groucho Marx
and Mae West were both fans. Starting in 2004, he began hosting a Detroit-based radio show, Nights with Alice Cooper
As the band "Alice Cooper":
- Pretties for You (1969)
- Easy Action (1970)
- Love It to Death (1971)
- Killer (1971)
- School's Out (1972)
- Billion Dollar Babies (1973)
- Muscle of Love (1973)
As a solo artist:
- Welcome to My Nightmare (1975)
- Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (1976)
- Lace and Whiskey (1977)
- From the Inside (1978)
- Flush the Fashion (1980)
- Special Forces (1981)
- Zipper Catches Skin (1982)
- DaDa (1983)
- Constrictor (1986)
- Raise Your Fist and Yell (1987)
- Trash (1989)
- Hey Stoopid (1991)
- The Last Temptation (1994)
- Brutal Planet (2000)
- Dragontown (2001)
- The Eyes of Alice Cooper (2003)
- Dirty Diamonds (2005)
- Along Came a Spider (2008)
- Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)
This singer's works provides examples of:
- Bowdlerization: Due to Moral Guardians thinking the title might be seen as a reference to menstruation, the title of "Only Women Bleed" was censored to "Only Women" when it was released as a single.
- Break the Cutie: From the Darker and Edgier Brutal Planet and Dragontown albums, we have "Take It Like a Woman" and "Every Woman Has a Name", respectively. While we're at it, they both also contain something of a Downer Ending and Broken Bird.
- The Cameo:
- Car Fu: "Under My Wheels" is about a man murdering his wife by running her over.
- Chair Reveal: The music video "He's Back (Man Behind the Mask)" ends with the son telling his hidden father that he didn't understand the film. The dad's chair spins around, revealing that he was actually Alice Cooper all along, and he offers to explain it to him.
- Teens Are Monsters:"Well we got no class/And we got no princ
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In "The Congregation", the defrocked priests and telemarketers are kept in Hell's "eternal mariachi room".
- Cool Old Guy:
- Cosy Catastrophe: The song "Last Man On Earth" is about a guy who wakes up one morning to find that he's, well, the last man on earth. And instead of being depressed about it, he proceeds to sing about why it's awesome.
- Darker and Edgier:
- His albums "Brutal Planet" and "Dragontown."
- "When Hell Comes Home" is this compared to the rest of Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
- Deal with the Devil: The plot of The Last Temptation.
- Do Not Call Me Paul: His real name is Vincent. Don't call him Vincent.
- Technically, his real name is Alice—he had it legally changed to Alice Cooper. That's how much he dislikes the name Vincent.
- Actually, he had it legally changed so that he could use the name without having to trademark it, otherwise there was a possibility the other band members could trademark it. Of course, his relatives and childhood friends all call him Vince and he lives with that, but prefers fans to call him Alice.
- Eagleland: Type 2, referenced in "Lost In America"
I can't go to school cos I ain't got a gun
I ain't got a gun cos I ain't got a job
I ain't got job cos I can't go to school
So I'm lookin for a girl with a gun and a job
And a house, with cable!
Don't you know where you are?
- Early Installment Weirdness: The band's first two albums, Pretties for You and Easy Action, were very psychedelic-sounding, influenced by Frank Zappa and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Alice hadn't developed his vocal style yet, either, and the albums rely mainly on instrumentals and Word Salad Lyrics.
- Epic Rocking: "Halo of Flies". According to Alice himself, the song was written to prove that the band could perform long progressive suites
- Filk Song: "He's Back (Man Behind the Mask)", which is based on Friday the 13th franchise's undead killer Jason Voorhees, and was featured in the series' sixth installment.
- Freudian Excuse: Defied in "Wicked Young Man," where the narrator explains that movies, music and videogames didn't corrupt him and being evil is just his nature.
- Gender-Blender Name: But of course. He once described a trip to the bank where he was asked his name and gave "Alice Cooper." The teller said "I have about six Alice Coopers here, which one are you?" His response? "I'm the one whose account says mister Alice Cooper."
- Hair Metal: The albums Trash and Hey Stoopid ventured into this direction.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: While Alice had worn leather before he took it to new heights when returned to the music industry in 1986 wearing a studded leather jacket with a leather shirt, leather gloves, leather pants and leather boots.
- Hospital Hottie: "Nurse Rosetta", from the point of view of the priest fantasizing about her.
- Hot as Hell: The song "You're My Temptation" is about the narrator trying to resist a seductive female trying to tempt him into Hell.
- Human Popsicle: "Refrigerator Heaven", wherein the POV character gets frozen until they find a cure for cancer.
I'm freezing, I'm frozen, I'm icicle blue
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: The song "Feed My Frankenstein" jam-packed with euphemisms for genitalia and various sex acts.
- Iconic Item: The straitjacket Alice escapes from at every concert.
- I Love the Dead: The Trope Namer.
- Ill Boy: As a child, Alice had severe asthma and other health problems, and nearly died of a burst appendix at age 12. One of the reasons his family moved to Phoenix was the hope that the warmer climate would improve his health. And it did improve as he got older.
- Intercourse with You: Many songs, perhaps most blatantly "I'm Your Gun". There's also "Feed My Frankenstein", which includes the line "Let me drink the wine from your fur tea cup."
- Last Note Nightmare: "Wind-Up Toy" ("You have to go now, it's bedtime") and the white noise freakout at the end of the album Killer, which represents Alice being killed in the electric chair, which is also featured in the stage show.
- Letters 2 Numbers: Used in the title for the album Welcome 2 My Nightmare.
- Long Title: "Look at You Over There, Ripping the Sawdust From My Teddy Bear" from Special Forces, and "I'm Alive (That Was the Day My Dead Pet Returned to Save My Life)" from Zipper Catches Skin.
- Lyrical Dissonance:
- "Millie and Billie" from From The Inside sounds like a corny pop duet, but the lyrics are about the two characters murdering each other's partners so they can be together.
- "The Man Behind The Mask," written for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, is the most cheery, uplifting song you'll ever hear about a deformed guy in a hockey mask who murders teenagers, though the original demo version of the song(which eventually became "Trick Bag") is more suitably dark.
- Madwoman in the Attic: "Former Lee Warmer" is sung from the perspective of a man who keeps his mute and apparently insane brother locked up in his attic.
- Mean Character Nice Actor: In private life, Cooper is a devout Christian, and a substitute Bible Studies teacher at his local school, and a great golfer. Then he goes to work and records songs about Serial Killers. He makes it clear on many occasions that his onstage persona is a character he plays to entertain people, but that he doesn't act that way in real life. Moral Guardians frequently accused him of satanism until he made it clear he was in fact christian.
- And boy, does he love showing off his nice side, mostly because it freaks people out more than his nasty side.
- He's generally pretty nice in his currently running radio show.
- This is played up in Wayne's World, where he plays himself as a highly philosophical gentleman backstage.
- He also owns a popular family restaurant in Phoenix, AZ, infamous for its "Big Unit" two-foot-long hot dogs (named for Randy "Big Unit" Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a co-investor in the restaurant), and appeared on Man v. Food when the host did a Phoenix-themed episode. The host even referenced the "We're not worthy" Wayne's World bit when Alice brought out his food personally.
- Meaningful Name: He chose from a book which listed of the most calm, inoffensive first and last names - number one on each were Alice and Cooper.
- Missing Episode: The Special Forces, Zipper Catches Skin, and DaDa albums, for Alice himself. He was so deep in the throes of alcoholism in the early 80s that he says he has no memory of recording them. He sobered up for good soon after recording DaDa.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Since his albums frequently combine satire, more light-hearted humor, and both comically and genuinely dark themes, this is frequent. A good example is "When Hell Comes Home" from Welcome 2 My Nightmare—a heavy, creepy, completely serious song in which the narrator plans to kill his abusive father sandwiched between a love song to a corpse and a song featuring Ke$ha portraying the devil.
- Just about any of his "serious" ballads ("Only Women Bleed", "I Never Cry", etc.) are musically and often lyrically quite different from the rest of the album that they appear on.
- VERY common lyrically on the Darkerand Edgier Brutal Planet and Dragontown albums, as they focus on "real-world" issues far more than usual, alternating between dark but somewhat humorous satire and pure, well, brutality.
- "Man of the Year" from The Eyes of Alice Cooper. The narrator spends the entire song talking about how great he is, then in the bridge suddenly reveals that despite this, he's incredibly lonely and depressed and then proceeds to kill himself. For the final verse he reverts to talking about how great the funeral was and how he bets God can't wait to meet him. Played for Laughs, obviously.
- New Sound Album:
- The New Wave album Flush the Fashion
- Alice seems to love this trope. The original Alice Cooper band was mainly straightforward hard rock, but when Alice went solo he adopted a more sophisticated sound that included strings, horns, disco influences, a love ballad as well as keeping the hard rock edge which ultimately made an album more friendly for the masses. Alice kept this style until the aforementioned New Wave Flush the Fashion before jumping into a more modern 80s sound a few years later which got progressively commercial sounding, culiminating in the glam rock album Trash. After two more albums in roughly the same style he switched to heavy, detuned Industrial Metal for two albums, then came full circle and went back to straight forward rock. The Alice Cooper band also did this, with their first two albums featuring long psychedelic influenced songs before Bob Ezrin came onboard and got them writing the shorter hard rock tunes they became famous for.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Poison", possibly. Also "Bed of Nails" "Little By Little" and "Dangerous Tonight".
- Pie in the Face: On one of VH-1's countdown lists of the craziest concert moments, a fan hits him in the face with a cream pie while he's crouched down on the stage during a dramatic moment. He just rolls with it, wiping the filling off his face and licking his finger. In the accompanying interview he says that afterwards it occurred to him that it wasn't a smart thing to do, since he didn't know what the pie might be laced with. It turned out all right though.
- Power Ballad: "Hell Is Living Without You" and "Might As Well Be On Mars"
- Sanity Slippage Song: Many of his songs. "Steven" is one examples. "From the Inside" is a whole album of insanity songs.
- Religious Horror: The concept albums Go to Hell and The Last Temptation. Also Brutal Planet and especially Dragontown.
- Royal Rapier: Wields one (which belonged to Errol Flynn) during concerts. It usually has money skewered on it during "Billion Dollar Babies" and is occasionally used to decapitate a baby at the end of the song.
- Self-Deprecation: The commercial break outros for Nights with Alice Cooper crack a lot of jokes at Alice's expense. "You're listening to a man whose first album was called a tragic waste of plastic..."
- Sesame Street Cred: Guest starred on The Muppet Show (an obvious Take That, Critics!, where he was an agent for the devil in the storyline, though not a very competent one).
- Transformation Sequence: While Alice usually comes onstage already in-character, in a few tours he started the show as Alice Cooper (the performer) and partway through became the evil Alice Cooper (the character) in a transformation sequence, which usually involved the melodies from "Steven" being played while a nurse or doctor forcibly applied his greasepaint.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: From "No More Mr. Nice Guy" - "I used to be such a sweet sweet thing till they got a hold of me..."
- Video Full Of Film Clips: "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)", which uses the clips from Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
- You Are Number Six: Featured in the song "Clones" ("6 is having problems adjusting to his clone status...").