Top 10 Paul Stanley ‘Can Do!’ Kiss Songs
Believe it or not, as this list of Paul Stanley “Can Do!” Songs demonstrates, the Kiss frontman isn’t always singing about his love gun. In fact, the importance of hard work and a positive attitude is referenced on many of Stanley’s most popular tracks.
As chronicled in his 2014 memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed, Stanley’s upbeat attitude has helped him overcome many obstacles in his personal life, and to weather the numerous ups and downs of of Kiss’ four-decades-and-counting career. You can call his persistent “you can do this” messaging corny if you’d like, but keep in mind that it’s probably part of the reason he’s still one of the most popular and talked-about rock stars in the classic rock world after all these years.
“Live to Win”
We’re cheating just a slight bit, choosing a song from Stanley’s sophomore solo album instead of a Kiss anthem to kick off our “can do!” list. But he’s never spelled out his upbeat life philosophy clearer than he does here: “Live to win ’til you die / ‘Til the light dies in your eyes / Live to win take it all / Just keep fighting ’til you fall.” Plus, it provided the soundtrack to a hysterical South Park montage, so how could we resist?
“King of the Mountain”
Apparently feeling his oats after spearheading Kiss’ early ’80s comeback, Stanley gleefully uncorks a series of boasts that would make L.L. Cool J blush on the opening track of 1985’s Asylum. The then-unmasked Starchild declares himself cock of the walk and promises to keep climbing: “I wanna go where nobody’s ever been / I’m never gonna stop / I’m gonna reign, I’m gonna shine.”
“Rise to It”
We could be very wrong on this one. This might belong on a Paul Stanley Sex Songs list instead. After all, he’s lying in bed next to his lover and promising to “rise to it.” But… you know how Led Zeppelin‘s “Trampled Under Foot” isn’t really about a car? It’s our theory that this song actually contains a rare reverse sexual metaphor, and that the infectious “I’m gonna rise to it / You know I really can do it” chorus is about life and career goals, not sexual conquests. The video, which envisions a mid-’70s Stanley insisting that Kiss could be popular without the makeup, seems to support our theory.
“All Hell’s Breaking Loose”
First off, if everybody had followed Stanley’s ignored, potentially pioneering lead here, the ’90s rap-rock genre would have been a hell of a lot cooler than Limp Bizkit. But back to the topic at hand: despite his band having hit rock bottom commercially (even 1982’s excellent Creatures of the Night couldn’t stop their career tailspin), Stanley remained defiant and confident on the group’s first makeup-free album: “You know we ain’t always winners, but this is the life we choose / And we won’t change or rearrange, and we ain’t never ever gonna looooooose!“
“Lick it Up”
As with “Rise to It” above, it’s possible we’re reading too much into this song’s message. But hear us out: apart from a quick opening line about not wanting “to wait ’til you know me better,” Stanley stays focused on more universal issues such as the importance of living in the moment here. “Lick it Up” has gone on to surpass “Heaven’s on Fire” as the most enduring ’80s Kiss song, and Stanley’s “It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself” message seems to be a big part of the reason why.
“Shout it Out Loud”
Yes, “Shout it Out Loud” is primarily a pro-party, anti-authority anthem advocating crowd-pleasing positions on loud music and late nights. But there’s some serious “can do!” subtext in there, such as Stanley’s plan to combat the self-pity blues (“If you don’t feel good, there’s a way you could / Don’t sit there brokenhearted / Call all your friends in the neighborhood / And get the party started!”) and more crucially, this bit of advice from the opening verse: “You’ve got to treat yourself like number one / Do you need to be reminded?”
Same album, same anti-authority stance, with Stanley once again taking his young audience’s side against the parents who accuse them of being lazy and directionless. Relax, he tells the still-growing Kiss army, they accused me of the same thing, and if you work hard this world can be yours: “My parents think I’m crazy and they hate the things I do / I’m stupid and I’m lazy, man, if they only knew / How flaming youth will set the world on fire.”
“God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”
When Kiss covered this 1973 Argent single, they dropped all of the hippy-dippy “love your life / love your neighbor” verses in favor of expanding on the original version’s “you’ve gotta sweat or you won’t go far” message with new lyrics such as “You can take a stand, or you can compromise / You can work real hard or just fantasize.”
The fact that this strange, medieval times-set concept album exists at all is, if nothing else, a tribute to Stanley and fellow founding Kiss star Gene Simmons‘ “never say die” spirit. Their original idea of making a “back to basics” record got warped into an ill-advised attempt at earning critical praise – but at least it all climaxes with this extremely catchy celebration of the power of positivity. The hero of the Elder’s adventure overcomes his doubts, and realizes there’s nothing he can’t do: “I just need a will of my own / And the balls to stand alone / Yes, I believe in me.”
“Get All You Can Take”
With Simmons – the only other remaining, founding member of Kiss – suddenly more focused on his own film career, Stanley was left to try to solidify the comeback success of Lick it Up largely on his own. Animalize is best remembered as the home of the band’s biggest hit in years (“Heaven’s on Fire”), but it’s this unheralded album track that best explains Stanley’s “can do!” approach to the problem, as he once again cautions against wasting time waiting for a lucky break: “If you’ve got half a chance, you take it.”