Pearl Jam, still jammin'.


pearl jam BY: Jean Fitz

Pearl Jam: The Gem of Rock Music?

In the early 1990s, Pearl Jam piggybacked Nirvana into the grunge rock scene, soon surpassing them to be one of the most popular bands of the genre. By mixing the sounds of The Ramones with that of Nirvana, Pearl Jam formulated a unique and beloved grunge-classic rock hybrid that remains both true to its roots while keeping up with the times. Pearl Jam’s latest album, Lightning Bolt, dropped October 15th and is already number 1.

How does a band survive successfully for 25 years without losing momentum, fans, or dignity? The world may never know the secret, but try to think of a negative situation involving Pearl Jam or its members. They have been relevant for their pure music and sound rather than plain image or the “celebrity” of the members. Media has yet to take this band and distort its image. It’s a kind of purity of the music that even bands like AC/DC, the Beatles, or Poison had been incapable of balancing with their personal lives. Most of Pearl Jam’s influences, like The Who, had major controversies both related and unrelated to their music.

This trend is not only common but expected in the music industry, no matter what time period or genre, because curiosity is in our nature. Especially today, we want to know everything about a band and its members; who they date, who they know, what they do, if they’re doing drugs or are alcoholics… all of these questions typically burn within us until someone finds, or forces, an answer. Moreover, many musicians “sell out” once they hit the limelight.

Being labeled a sell out is possibly the biggest insult to any artist, or anyone in general. In laymen’s terms, it is to take your personal vision,desire, idea,whatever and flush it down the toilet for money, fame, or image. This can also be called the “pop star effect” due to the fact that many artists in the beginning of pop’s life were simply a shell to be mutilated into a singing, dancing, sparkling, pleather-wearing machine with a headset and a triple platinum record. I digress. The point is that fans typically want more from musicians than just music, resulting in downward spirals and cookie-cutter pop stars.

Pearl Jam is in the category of the type of band that stays true to itself and its music, captivating a nation solely by its lyrical and musical genius, managing to stay relevant not by who the members were sleeping with or what drugs they got busted for but because of their talent. I love when a band is popular without being “top 40”. Their sound is nowhere near cliché nor is it easy to imitate. Even after 25 years on the music scene, they have stayed in the perfect cycle of “new” and “different” while remaining true to their garage rock, classic 70s rock, 90s grunge, experimentalism fusion.

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