Put simply, Pearl Jam has had a great career. Their records have sold like hotcakes, they’ve toured around the world to great success, and they consistently put out high quality music in their heyday. Today, I’m going to attempt to pick my three favorite albums by the group. I don’t say “attempt” for no reason. I hold more than three Pearl Jam records in high regard, so picking was difficult. But isn’t picking always difficult? I’m going to give you two different top threes: one by personal choice, and one based on quantity (specifically, which albums have the most songs I like). To end things off, I’ll name my favorite song off of all of the records that made the cut.
Pearl Jam’s Best By Quantity
3. No Code/Ten
This one is a bit of a technicality, but both No Code and Ten tied for third place. I went through both records and found that I liked 11 songs off of each. Ten has 11 songs total, though, so credit where its due.
I think Vitalogy is really slept on, personally. I found that 12 out of the 14 original songs off of the record were good. And at the risk of being vilified by the Pearl Jam fanbase, I am including “Bugs” on that list. How could I not like it? It’s a complete joke, and that’s awesome.
Vs. can never seem to escape the shadow of Ten, unfortunately. Hell, Pearl Jam as a whole can’t escape the shadow of Ten, but I digress. Of the 15 songs on the record, I like 13. I’ve excluded “Cready Stomp” and “Crazy Mary” because I could never get into them. I’d rather listen to “Go” or something else, honestly. But as far as quantity goes, Vs. is on top.
Before I move on, I’d like to give two albums an honorable mention: Yield with 10 songs, and Binaural with 7. These are both great records, and I highly recommend them.
Best By Personal Choice
First, I have to give Ten an honorable mention. It’s iconic, all of the songs are great, and it launched Pearl Jam into the stratosphere. As much as it seems overplayed to me or even overrated, there’s no denying how important it is. Whenever I’ve felt that Ten is overrated, giving the album another listen has changed my mind. You know it, you love it, and I do too. With that said, let’s get into the top three.
Favorite song: “Release”
For a long time, I thought Vitalogy was my favorite Pearl Jam record. It has some of the best songs in their entire discography, like “Last Exit” or “Corduroy”, and some of their strangest (“Bugs” definitely included). I always loved that it was more experimental, and that the group actively tried to take risks and make something new. Today, the record has a special place in my heart for that reason. I have since reconsidered this choice, and now I feel more certain about what my favorite Pearl Jam record is. I’ll probably have a change of heart in a few years, but regardless, Vitalogy means a lot to me. Really, the only reason this album is number three is because I had to list favorites. To me, it’s number one, and so are my other favorite Pearl Jam records.
Favorite song: “Immortality”
2. No Code
I’m not gonna lie, a lot of my love for No Code goes to “In My Tree”, which is probably my favorite Pearl Jam song period. It stands out compared to the rest of their discography, with awesome drumming, a memorable melody and bassline, and powerful lyrics. I grew up with this song and with its message, and I always felt like I was soaring when I listened to it. This isn’t to say that the rest of No Code is bad, though. The album has some amazing tracks, like “Sometimes”, “Habit”, “Lukin”, and I could go on.
Favorite song: “In My Tree”
I had to choose Vs. again, because it’s so consistently awesome. Every single song, excluding “Cready Stomp” and “Crazy Mary” in my personal case, hits and hits fucking hard. It’s raw, angry, and most importantly, authentic. Vs. arrived during a time where the group was young and rebellious. In the face of newfound fame, they often went in the opposite direction of what people were expecting. This includes their infamous legal battle with Ticketmaster, among other things.
Favorite song: “W.M.A.”
What are your favorite Pearl Jam songs? Do you agree with my list? Don’t be shy, and post your thoughts! Just please don’t waste your characters on hating me for liking “Bugs”, as I was partially joking. Only partially, though; I will die on this hill. And I know that me not putting Ten as number one for everything seems blasphemous, but remember: some of us Pearl Jam fans have something different to say for a change! Okay, I’ve kicked the hornet’s nest enough.