Since day dot, Pearl Jam have staked their claim as grunge greats and a key band in rotation throughout the Rock 2000 countdown.
Coming together after former bands fell apart, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, and Eddie Vedder wasted no time in making Pearl Jam a household name. Their debut album ‘Ten’ dropped in 1991 and received immense critical and commercial success.
Originally calling themselves Mookie Blaylock, in reference to an NBA player at the time, the band changed their name to Pearl Jam after signing to a record label. Pearl is the name of Vedder’s Native American great-grandmother, who apparently made an incredible peyote-laced jam.
The following list delves into data from across every single Rock 2000 countdown (including Rock 500, and Rock 1000, 1500 countdowns), to explore Pearl Jam’s 20 most successful songs, as voted by Rock listeners.
THE 20 BEST-PERFORMING PEARL JAM SONGS ACROSS ALL ROCK 2000 COUNTDOWNS:
20. The Fixer (2009)
‘The Fixer’ from Pearl Jam’s ninth album ‘Backspacer’ peaked at number 53 in 2009, the year it was released. It’s stayed in the countdown every year since then, signalling it as a favourite since it first graced the ears of Pearl Jam fans.
Guitarist Mike McCready introduced the catchy guitar riff, and Eddie Vedder wrote the lyrics about how men think they can fix anything, especially in relationships.
19. Immortality (1994)
As the title suggests, ‘Immortality’ from Pearl Jam’s third album ‘Vitalogy’, has stood the test of time. It’s appeared in every single Rock 2000 Countdown, peaking at #88 in 2002 in what was then the Rock 500 Countdown.
This haunting and introspective song is said to have been inspired by the passing of Kurt Cobain as it explores themes of mortality and the impermanence of life.
18. Rearviewmirror (1993)
‘Rearviewmirror’ made its debut appearance in the countdown in 2008, 15 years after it was released on the band’s second album ‘Ten’. For a song all about change and leaving the past behind, it hasn’t done much of that, staying in the countdown for the past decade and a half, peaking at #134 in 2011.
Dave Abrubruzzese destroyed his drum set after recording the song due to feeling a bit of pressure from one of the producers. At the end of the studio cut of the track, you can hear Dave throw his drumsticks against a wall in a fit of anger.
17. Nothingman (1994)
When it comes to the Rock 2000, ‘Nothingman’ has been something, man. It’s appeared on every single countdown, reaching its highest spot in 2018 when it landed at #137.
Live performances of the song became highly anticipated and popular amongst fans due to the one and only Neil Young playing the guitar on it during some of the band’s concerts.
16. Dissident (1993)
‘Dissident’ has appeared in the countdown 14 times. It peaked last year at #144, climbing 400+ spots since 2020. It was completely left out from 2010 - 2013 and in 2006 - 7 but when it is in, it averages at around the #500 spot.
Vedder wrote the song about a woman who takes in a refugee on the run before eventually having to turn them in, “betraying the one thing in life that gave her meaning”, as Eddie put it to author Allan Jones.
15. Corduroy (1994)
‘Corduroy’ was inspired by a shirt given to Eddie by his ex-girlfriend, he didn’t take it off for weeks.
Just like that shirt stayed on the frontman, the track has stayed on the countdown. Appearing all 21 times with a peak of #98 in 2013.
14. State Of Love And Trust (1994)
‘State Of Love And Trust’ was written for the soundtrack of the 1992 film ‘Singles’ which is all about a bunch of young Seattlites living during the grunge revolution.
From its 14 Rock 2000 Countdown appearances, its median placing is #387, with the track almost cracking the top hundred when it reached #108 in 2018
13. Garden (1991)
'Garden' didn’t appear in the countdown until 2015, twenty-four years after it was released. However, ever since then, it’s been in a commendable spot, not dipping below #500 in the last five years.
Eddie wrote the song after George H.W. Bush went on TV to announce the US invasion of Kuwait. “Why were we doing this?” he said in a Billboard interview the year the track came out.
12. Release (1991)
‘Release’ was written by Eddie as a tribute to his late father. He only found out the man was his biological dad later in life.
The emotionally heavy song has struck a chord with Rock listeners as it’s appeared on the countdown 18 times, peaking at #103 in 2018.
11. Given To Fly (1998)
‘Given To Fly' has appeared in all our Rock 2000 Countdowns, never falling out of the top 1000. It did come close back in 2009 - when it was the Rock 1000 - sneaking in at #999.
Peaking at #127 in 2018, the track is somewhat of an ode to Led Zeppelin, loosely inspired by the legendary rock band’s tune ‘Going To California’.
10. Last Kiss (1999)
‘Last Kiss’, a cover of Wayne Cochran’s 1961 song, was released as a charity single with all proceeds going to aid refugees of the Kosovo War.
It’s appeared in all but one Rock 2000 Countdown (2002), cracking the top 400 each year since 2011, with an average ranking of #306 and a peak of #124 in 2015.
9. Animal (1993)
Another song that’s appeared in every Countdown, ‘Animal’ was in the top 300 in all but one year from 2002 to 2015. Its highest placing ever was #104 in 2006.
‘Animal’ originally started as a demo called ‘Weird A,’ written by Stone in 1990.
8. Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town (1993)
Peaking at #34 a decade ago in 2013, ‘Elderly Woman’ has been in the top 300 since 2006. The only time it didn’t make an appearance was in the first-ever countdown we did.
It took Eddie twenty minutes to come up with the lyrics, not even writing them down. Stone liked what he heard and the band recorded it the same day.
7. Even Flow (1991)
The band did not like ‘Even Flow’ when recording it for their debut album.
“We played that thing over and over until we hated each other,” said Mike McCready. “I still don’t think Stone is satisfied with how it came out.”
Rock listeners are satisfied though, it’s appeared in every single countdown with an average placing of #116 and a peak of #52.
6. Jeremy (1991)
‘Jeremy’ is a staple track in the Rock 2000. It peaked at #27 in 2002 and hasn’t fallen lower than #206.
The song’s dark music video is widely celebrated, winning the MTV Music Video of the Year award and putting director Mark Pellington on the map.
5. Yellow Ledbetter (1992)
Once it was recorded, ‘Yellow Ledbetter’ didn’t make it onto the band’s debut album. Instead, it was released a year later on the B-side of ‘Jeremy’, and fans loved it.
Especially Rock listeners in the past decade. It first appeared on the 2007 countdown, but since 2016 it’s always been in the top 75. Over two decades after it was released, the song peaked at #20 in 2019.
4. Alive (1991)
‘Alive’ - the first ever single the band released - has cracked the top 10 twice, peaking at #10 in the first two years of the countdown and making an appearance every year since.
Originally an instrumental called ‘Dollar Short’, the track was included on a demo tape in hopes of finding a singer for the group. Eddie got his hands on a copy and the rest is history.
3. Better Man (1994)
Always a mainstay in the countdown, last year was ‘Better Man’s’ lowest appearance ever at #100. It’s appeared in the top ten five times, including its peak of #2 in 2005.
Eddie wrote the song in high school and first performed it (at a slightly higher tempo) with a band called Bad Radio. Eventually, Pearl Jam learned it and became one of the band’s most beloved tracks.
2. Daughter (1993)
Inspired by a true story of a girl with a learning disability, the lyrics and catchy melody of ‘Daughter’ have resonated with fans worldwide, making it an enduring and impactful piece.
It took out the #1 spot in 2003 and appeared in the top ten another three times. It didn’t leave the top 100 until 2016 and has always made it into the countdown.
1. Black (1991)
It’s not the Rock 2000 without ‘Black’ getting some air time. The ballad deals with Eddie’s personal experience of heartbreak.
In the first countdown, it placed at #207, but since then it’s only fallen out of the top 20 three times. In 2018 it was the #1 tune and it’s placed in the top ten for the past six years.
What a track, what a band.
Pearl Jam are always players in the Rock 2000 Countdown with the massive, f*ck off spreadsheet of data we use for these rankings providing the evidence.