Nicole Scherzinger’s the latest popstar to sing about poison, but how does it compare to the greats of the canon? And which poison is she?
ABC – Poison Arrow
What’s it like?: Jauntily dramatic, with big drum crashes, dadfunk bass, ghostly piano, a deadpan spoken interlude and SOLO SAX. Pretty much perfect.
The lyrics?: The central conceit that Cupid’s arrow has been tainted is elegantly matched with a series of classic reversals: Right on the target but wide of the mark, what I thought was fire was only the spark, etc etc. Bonus points for no rhythm in cymbals, no tempo in drums.
Culture Club – Church of the Poison Mind
What’s it like?: Well I suppose it’s got a good beat. Otherwise it’s a church with a wonky organ, wall-to-wall harmonica and a lot of unholy wailing all over the shop.
The lyrics? They work the ‘church’ side of the metaphor a lot more than the ‘poison’ one. There’s love will make you blind, but otherwise disappointing.
What poison are they? A Silk Cut dipped in poppers.
Alice Cooper – Poison
What’s it like?: Oh it’s a right old racket. But you know how it goes, don’t you.
The lyrics? Very impressive, from the opening Your cruel device onwards. The object of Alice’s affection has a call that’s like needles and pins, eyes that could kill with a look, and of course her lips are venomous poison which ends up running through Alice’s veins. Nicely sustained.
What poison is he?: Snakebite. By which I mean I’m sure Alice’d like to come off as something fanged and bitey and exotic, but he seems like such a gentle, humourous soul in reality that the classic UK cocktail of beer and cider would probably do.
Britney Spears – Toxic
What’s it like?: Strings that are woozy and swoopy, all at the same time. Croaky sex Mehitabel enthuses over gulpy descending bass with hilarious consequences. One of the best songs of all time.
The lyrics? It’s pretty much a direct sequel to the Alice Cooper song, to the extent that his your mouth, so hot/ your web, I’m caught/ your skin, so wet/ black lace, on sweat verse could be slipped right in here without anyone noticing. And as Britney ALSO fixates on the idea of her lover’s lips being a poison paradise, I suggest we consider this a classic ‘answer record’ to Alice, while we leave her salivating over the thought of a sip from the devil’s cup. WHATEVER THAT IS.
What poison is she?: Anything that’s going, I suspect. Dishwasher rinse-aid, a few too many Junior Disprins, an overdose of nutmeg. Whatever gets her there.
Nicole Scherzinger – Poison
What’s it like?: Like ejaculating over and over again while trying to bust a move on a crowded dancefloor with someone shouting at you over a pneumatic drill and a rave horn going off (brilliant).
The lyrics?: Finally, after decades of popstars serenading their poisonous lovers, Nicole positions herself as the toxic one. It’s her lips that are dripping venom, and her own bad girl power she’s itching to abuse. Otherwise the words are largely incomprehensible (Sexy little dirty screen? Stick to a stick?) but I think we can consider this a triumph.