Fan poll: Top 5 PEARL JAM songs | Revolver

Fan poll: Top 5 PEARL JAM songs

See which grunge classic took the No. 1 spot
pearl jam eddie vedder GETTY 1992 LIVE, Gie Knaeps/Getty Images
photograph by Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

When Revolver picked the 10 heaviest grunge songs of all time, Pearl Jam weren't represented. Unlike their metallic (Alice in Chains, Soundgarden) and punky (Nirvana, Mudhoney) grunge contemporaries, Pearl Jam offer a jammier, more classic-rock-inflected take on the idiom — one that made them commercial giants with a decidedly alternative spirit.

However, metalheads who've overlooked Pearl Jam should reconsider. Eddie Vedder and Co. won't clobber you over the head with heavy riffs, but their songcraft is unparalleled, and the raw power of their songs will sneak up on you.

We asked Revolver readers to comb through the Seattle greats' prolific discography and select the single best Pearl Jam track. The band's old-school material dominated the votes, and top five results are ranked accordingly below.

5. "Rearview Mirror"

Every other song in this top five comes from Pearl Jam's 1991 debut, Ten, but "Rearviewmirror" is a standout from the band's second album, 1993's Vs. The track begins with a mid-tempo drive, but eventually picks up energy and aggression as Vedder snarls over the squealing lead lick, his voice growing more distressed as the song careens into a ferocious scrum of drums and gnashing feedback. No wonder Revolver readers love it.

4. "Release"

Basically any song on Ten could be considered a hit, but "Release" is one of the deeper cuts on the album (one of the best-selling in all of music history, mind you). The closing track's psychedelic intro lick sets a hypnotic mood, and then Vedder's voice comes in with what sounds like a Seattle version of Mongolian throat singing.

Slowly, the power in this ballad builds up, and by the end it's a crunching rocker laced with some of Vedder's most cathartic warbles. "Release," indeed.

3. "Jeremy"

Sometimes mocked for just how "angsty" it could get, grunge never shied away from dark subject matter. To that end, Pearl Jam's iconic anthem "Jeremy" spoke to the suicide epidemic that would, at times, hit all-too-close to home within their peer group of Nineties alt-rock bands.

Written about a 15-year-old boy who took his life in front of his classmates, the song follows a chillingly true storyline that Vedder narrates with genuine pain his voice. The way he screeches, "TRY to forget this," is palpable, and "Jeremy"'s harrowing music video brings the grim reality of its subject to life.

2. "Even Flow"

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard "Even Flow." It's Pearl Jam's most popular song, and one of several blockbuster Ten singles that rocketed the band to the forefront of grunge, and made them MTV mainstays.

Vedder's first line, "freee-zin," might be one of the most defining lyrics of 1990s rock, and the bluesy riff on this thing is instantly recognizable no matter what portion your ear catches. It's an entry-level Pearl Jam song, but an undeniably awesome one at that.

1. "Black"

We certainly wouldn't have guessed that Revolver readers would put a power ballad at the peak of Pearl Jam's top five, but we can't argue with them here. "Black" is among the group's finest slow-burners, with a truly epic groove, plinking keyboards and a howling vocal performance from Vedder.

Woozily, the song grows and grows before Vedder drops a devastating plea of unrequited love: "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life/I know you'll be a star/In somebody else's sky/But why can't it be mine?"

His "why?"'s echo atop a smoldering guitar solo, and the song burns bright for another minute before the flame gently recedes. Damn, what a hugely powerful moment. "Black" is an all-timer.