10 Best Pearl Jam Videos
After beginning their career as one of MTV’s most played artists, Pearl Jam went camera shy for several years, which made the occasions when they actually did shoot music videos all the more anticipated. Whether it be shining a light on their stellar live shows, delivering an important message via the visual medium or simply telling a story, Pearl Jam have continually generated quality clips.
And speaking of quality videos, the band has had their pick of fine directors, with Cameron Crowe, Todd McFarlane, Mark Pellington and Danny Clinch just a few of the name auteurs who have stepped behind the camera for Pearl Jam. Noisecreep celebrates the band’s visual artistry with this look at the 10 Best Pearl Jam Videos.
‘I Am Mine’
Pearl Jam worked extensively with director James Frost for their ‘Riot Act’ album, and ‘I Am Mine’ was the band’s first visual representation in nearly four years. This understated video, shot at Seattle’s Chop Suey club, shines a dimly lit spotlight on the band’s performance. Though there’s little to this performance clip, the shiny blue backdrop, visible shadows and use of split-screen give the promo an artistic feel.
Pearl Jam turned to Josh Taft for several of their early videos. Though not as popular as some of their other clips, ‘Oceans’ deserves a spot on the 10 Best Pearl Jam Videos list for the director’s artistic vision. This beautifully shot black-and-white clip focuses more on the band members enjoying a day at the beach while surfing under a clouded sky with only a small amount of performance footage worked in.
Acclaimed photographer Danny Clinch got the call for Pearl Jam’s ‘Sirens’ video and his eye for shading gave the clip the feel it needed. This performance piece was shot in a nearly pitch black studio, with only a few spotlights used to light the band. The result makes it seem like the group is lit by moonlight and gives the ‘Sirens’ video a very distinctive look.
‘Do the Evolution’
After shunning the video format for several years, Pearl Jam turned over their ‘Do the Evolution’ video to ‘Spawn’ creator Todd McFarlane and ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ director Kevin Altieri. Together they came up with a widely-hailed animated clip exploring survival of the the fittest themes applied to both social and environmental issues. For their efforts, Pearl Jam and the directors received a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form.
Who doesn’t remember the tsunami-like wave that opened Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ video? The image alone backed by the siren-like guitar open of the song is forever seared into our memory, thus making ‘Alive’ an easy pick for the 10 Best Pearl Jam Videos. The remainder of the clip, shot in black-and-white by Josh Taft, is a performance piece showcasing the intensity of frontman Eddie Vedder and the band’s ebb-and-flow musical expression.
Film director Cameron Crowe, who worked with Pearl Jam early in his career on the film ‘Singles,’ stepped behind the camera for the jarring video to ‘The Fixer.’ The group’s performance is often set against a backdrop of another performance. The effect, along with several extreme close-ups, split screen shots and other camera tricks, demands your attention, which is exactly what you want if you’re introducing a new song.
‘Mind Your Manners’
Pearl Jam have never been one to shy away from delivering a message and the clip for ‘Mind Your Manners’ does just that. There’s no disguising the intent here as the often silhouetted band members perform against the backdrop of both manmade and ecological disasters. Just to drive home the point, a voiceover at the end beckons, “So let’s try to count the number of obvious blunders.”
Is director Josh Taft getting a tongue-lashing from Eddie Vedder at the beginning of the ‘Even Flow’ video? Even if he is, that little bit of authenticity only adds to the performance-based clip. ‘Even Flow’ is the perfect document showcasing the energy and passion of a Pearl Jam show just as the band were starting to break huge. And yes Eddie, this most definitely is a rock concert.
‘Amongst the Waves’
Pearl Jam have continually shown their love for the ocean, but it’s never more resonant than in the ‘Amongst the Waves’ clip. In it, father and child rush toward the ocean with beautifully shot images both above and below the water’s surface. The touching piece is offset at the end with a ocean clean-up operation and a plea to protect the ocean environment for future generations.
It’s hard to argue against ‘Jeremy’ as No. 1 on our 10 Best Pearl Jam Videos list. This controversial Mark Pellington-directed clip centered on a bullied teen resorting to gun violence at a school. The clip won four MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year and because of the impact of the clip, the band stepped away from the visual medium for several years for fear that their videos would overshadow their music. ‘Jeremy’ remains an iconic clip to this day and frequently turns up on many “all-time best” video lists.