"I'm Eighteen" is a song by rock band Alice Cooper, first released as a single in November 1970 backed with "Is It My Body". It was the band's first top-forty success—peaking at number 21—and convinced Warner Bros. that Alice Cooper had the commercial potential to release an album. The song and its B-side feature on the band's first major-label album Love It to Death (1971).
The anthemic song is driven by a lumbering, arpeggiated guitar riff and aggressive, raspy vocals. The lyrics tell of the angst of being "in the middle" between youth and adulthood. It began as an eight-minute jam that young Canadian producer Bob Ezrin persuaded the band into tightening into a tight three-minute rocker.
The lumbering, distorted, and arpeggiated main guitar riff is in E minor drives the dark, aggressive song.Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce play similar rhythm guitar parts with slight differences; both used Gibson SG guitars. A pair of acoustic guitars subtly round out the sound—one filtered through a Leslie speaker.Dennis Dunaway plays a moving, melodic bass part rather than taking the typical rock strategy of holding to the root. The performance also features some distorted lead guitar, vocalist Cooper on harmonica during the intro, and an organ that joins the band for the closing chord.
Cooper's sings with raspy vocals of the existential anguish of being at the cusp of adulthood, decrying in each verse being "in the middle"—"of life" or "of doubt". The chorus switches to a series of crashing power chords building from A, the vocals proclaiming: "I'm eighteen / And I don't know what I want ... I gotta get out of this place / I'll go runnin' in outer space". The song turns around at the conclusion with an embrace of those things that had been such anguish: "I'm eighteen and I like it!" There are no harmonies or doubling in the vocals.