(Debuted September 23, 1989, Peaked #7, 18 Weeks on the Chart)
The 1980s were an interesting decade for Alice Cooper. After making his name through "shock rock" and theatrics in the 1970s, he began descending into a shell caused by years of alcohol abuse. His hit songs got "softer" in the late 70s and then just disappeared after 1980. He was still recording, but he clearly wasn't the performer he once had been. In the late 1980s, Cooper was helped by the fact that a lot of the kids who dug his 1970s material were perched on the charts. By 1989, many of the biggest acts were influenced by his look and stage presence (Guns 'n' Roses, Poison, Bon Jovi), while even some of his former associates (like Kip Winger) were notching hits of their own. By that time, Alice Cooper was remembered fondly by many.
In short, it was time for him to return. With his 1989 LP Trash, he did that...in a big way. After a long time away (seemingly), he was back. He was in heavy rotation on MTV, holding court around the kids who once sat in his shows and listened to his records. While not shocking or controversial, "Poison" was obviously geared to appeal to the "metalheads" that were buying a lot of music at the time. Its guitar-driven sound was formulaic but fun.
And then there were the lyrics. They tell a tale of a relationship that isn't good, but that fact somehow enhances it. I understood that -- I was in one of those relationships about six months earlier -- and picked up the message underneath all that sonic sheen.