Just What is Pearl Jam’s Chart History?

by Kathy Davis , Jessica Letkemann on March 23, 2009

Just What is Pearl Jam’s Record Chart History? The re-visiting of the Pearl Jam back catalog starting with the re-issue of “Ten” on March 24th, 2009, and the newsworthy entrance of 18-year-old song “Brother” into the Billboard charts got us wondering – just what is Pearl Jam’s record chart history?  What songs and albums charted, on what charts, and what were the peak positions? How many Number Ones does Pearl Jam really have?   Let’s explore!  We’re passionate about Pearl Jam here at TwoFeetThick.com, and we’re happy to let our PJ Geekdom flag fly high -and we loves us some stats.  So here’s a look at Pearl Jam’s relationship with the record-buying and radio-programming public, as documented by Billboard magazine over the years.

Our Heroes - circa 1992
Our Heroes – circa 1992

What does “having a song on the charts” mean, anyway? Yeah yeah, we know – it’s all about the music and the art and who cares about all this, really? Well, we care.  Selling records and getting them played on the radio is a huge measure of acceptance when you make music for a living – and besides playing live shows, it’s what helps a band be able to continue to create.  And we most surely want Pearl Jam to keep making music!  When a band starts out, having people buy and listen to the music created is one of the main motivators to making the art.   That Pearl Jam has been, and will continue to be recognized as the brilliant artists and musicians we think they are is kind of a big deal in our world! So that’s why we care.

Unquestionably the most accurate and respected recorded music chart in the industry, Billboard Magazine has been tracking and reporting U.S. sales and radio airplay of recorded music since 1936.  The “Hot 100″ chart debuted in 1958, and is the cross-genre music chart that is referenced when a song is reported to be a “Top Ten Hit”.  As a kid, I listened religiously to “America’s Top 40″ with Casey Kasem, which counted down the top 40 songs in America based on the Hot 100, so it holds a lot of weight in my world and has for many, many years. Our PJ boys have a long and rich history of charting on various Billboard charts – and there are many types of them!  All genres, all recording types…Billboard tracks it all. Their charts measure a mix of music distribution, and have evolved to include radio airplay, streaming, digital sales as well as physical sales.  So let’s have a look at how Pearl Jam figures into all of that.

In The Beginning:  When Did Pearl Jam debut on the Billboard charts? “Ten” was first detected by Billboard magazine’s radar on the “Heatseekers” chart published Nov. 2, 1991.  ”Heatseekers” are “the best-selling albums by new and developing acts”.  PJ debuted at No. 38 on that chart, right between 2nd II None and Electronic [a short-lived collaboration between Johnny Marr & Bernard Sumner of New Order]. That week, Gerald Levert’s “Private Line” was No. 1 on “Heatseekers”.  So from Ten’s release August 27, 1991, it took a bit over two months to enter the charts (charts are typically published a week prior to the date on the chart).   ”Ten” debuted on the Billboard 200 album chart on January 4, 1992 at Number 155, right above Travis Tritt.  The Billboard 200 is based on album sales only, and is the chart to which people refer when they say that an album is Top Ten or Number One.

Pearl Jam’s first single to chart was “Alive” on Jan. 11, 1992, reaching the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, which tracks airplay. It entered at #32. U2 was No. 1 that week with “Mysterious Ways.”  Good company!  Ironically, “Alive” never entered the big singles chart, the Hot 100.

What is “Ten”‘s Chart History? “Ten” had a fascinating ride on the Billboard 200, remaining on the chart continuously for over four and a half years! When it last charted,  leaving the chart at #186 the week of October 12, 1996, “No Code” was at #10 on the same chart.  The album entered the Top Ten, jumping from #16 to #8, the week of May 20, 1992 – which seems to directly reflect the band’s appearance on MTV Unplugged May 13 of that year.  ”Ten”  peaked at #2 the week of August 22, 1992 – right smack dab in the middle of the band’s performance run at Lollapalooza, and around the same time the “Jeremy” video debuted and rocketed into heavy rotation on MTV. (#1 that week? Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Some Gave All”).  ”Ten” remained at #2 until the week of September 26, 1992, slipping to #3 (behind Eric Clapton at #2 and Billy Ray at #1).

Songs from “Ten” – how did they fare? “Alive” peaked at #16 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, #18 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. “Evenflow” peaked at #3 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, #21 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.  ”Jeremy” peaked at #5 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, #5 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

So how many Number Ones does Pearl Jam have? Our band topped the Billboard 200 album chart a few times:  ”Vs.” reached #1 November 6, 1993 – the week it debuted.  The album sales at that time were record-breaking, shifting 950,000-plus units the first week of release.  (Incidentally, “Vs.” sprinted ahead of Rush and Meatloaf, and knocked Nirvana’s “In Utero” down to #4 that week).  ”Vitalogy” peaked at #1 December 24, 1994, and “No Code” was #1 September 14, 1996.  Though Pearl Jam are always #1 to us,  the Billboard charts show a couple of  peaks in the #2 chart positions with “Yield” (February1998) and “Pearl Jam” (June 2007)

Songs that reached #1 (and the chart type):

1993   Daughter/Yellow Ledbetter  - Mainstream Rock Tracks

1994   Daughter – Mainstream Rock Tracks

1994   Daughter – Modern Rock Tracks

1995   Better Man – Mainstream Rock Tracks

1996   Who You Are – Modern Rock Tracks

1998   Given To Fly – Mainstream Rock Tracks

2006   World Wide Suicide – Modern Rock Track

2009   Brother – Hot Modern Rock Tracks

To date, Pearl Jam have appeared in the Top Ten of various Billboard charts 36 times. And counting!

Finally , here is Pearl Jam’s entire chart history in reverse order, culled into one handy little list (Courtesy Billboard.com)

Year Song Chart Peak

2009 Alive Hot Digital Songs 66

2009 Brother Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 8

2009 Brother Hot Modern Rock Tracks 1

2009 Evenflow Hot Digital Songs 62

2006 Gone Hot Modern Rock Tracks 40

2006 Life Wasted Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 13

2006 Life Wasted Hot Modern Rock Tracks 10

2006 World Wide Suicide Hot Digital Songs 29

2006 World Wide Suicide Mainstream Rock 2

2006 World Wide Suicide Modern Rock 1

2006 World Wide Suicide Pop 100 47

2006 World Wide Suicide The Billboard Hot 100 41

2003 Save You Mainstream Rock Tracks 23

2003 Save You Modern Rock Tracks 6

2002 I Am Mine Mainstream Rock Tracks 7

2002 I Am Mine Modern Rock Tracks 6

2002 I Am Mine The Billboard Hot 100 43

2000 Light Years Mainstream Rock Tracks 17

2000 Light Years Modern Rock Tracks 26

2000 Nothing As It Seems Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

2000 Nothing As It Seems The Billboard Hot 100 49

1999 Last Kiss Mainstream Rock Tracks 5

1999 Last Kiss Modern Rock Tracks 2

1999 Last Kiss The Billboard Hot 100 2

1998 Do The Evolution Mainstream Rock Tracks 40

1998 Do The Evolution Modern Rock Tracks 33

1998 Elderly Woman Behind the Counter In A Small Town (live)

Mainstream Rock Tracks 21

1998 Given To Fly Mainstream Rock Tracks 1

1998 Given To Fly Modern Rock Tracks 3

1998 Given To Fly The Billboard Hot 100 21

1998 In Hiding Mainstream Rock Tracks 14

1998 In Hiding Modern Rock Tracks 13

1998 Wishlist Mainstream Rock Tracks 6

1998 Wishlist Modern Rock Tracks 6

1998 Wishlist The Billboard Hot 100 47

1997 Off He Goes Mainstream Rock Tracks 34

1997 Off He Goes Modern Rock Tracks 31

1996 Daughter The Billboard Hot 100 97

/Yellow Ledbetter

1996 Hail Hail Mainstream Rock Tracks 9

1996 Hail Hail Modern Rock Tracks 9

1996 I Got Id Mainstream Rock Tracks 2

1996 Leaving Here Mainstream Rock Tracks 24

1996 Leaving Here Modern Rock Tracks 31

1996 Red Mosquito Mainstream Rock Tracks 37

1996 Who You Are Mainstream Rock Tracks 5

1996 Who You Are Modern Rock Tracks 1

1996 Who You Are The Billboard Hot 100 31

1995 Better Man Mainstream Rock Tracks 1

1995 Better Man Modern Rock Tracks 2

1995 Corduroy Mainstream Rock Tracks 22

1995 Corduroy Modern Rock Tracks 13

1995 I Got Id Modern Rock Tracks 3

1995 I Got Id/Long Road The Billboard Hot 100 7

1995 Immortality Mainstream Rock Tracks 10

1995 Immortality Modern Rock Tracks 31

1995 Jeremy/Yellow Led. The Billboard Hot 100 79

1995 Not For You Mainstream Rock Tracks 12

1995 Not For You Modern Rock Tracks 38

1994 Animal Mainstream Rock Tracks 21

1994 Daughter Mainstream Rock Tracks 1

1994 Daughter Modern Rock Tracks 1

1994 Dissident Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

1994 Elderly Woman (Live)Modern Rock Tracks 17

1994 Glorified G Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

1994 Spin The Black Circle Mainstream Rock Tracks 16

1994 Spin The Black Circle Modern Rock Tracks 11

1994 Tremor Christ Mainstream Rock Tracks 16

1994 Tremor Christ Modern Rock Tracks 16

1994 Tremor Christ/Spin The Billboard Hot 100 18

The Black Circle

1994 Yellow Ledbetter Mainstream Rock Tracks 21

1994 Yellow Ledbetter Modern Rock Tracks 26

1993 Black Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

1993 Black Modern Rock Tracks 20

1993 Crazy Mary Mainstream Rock Tracks 26

1993 Crazy Mary Modern Rock Tracks 8

1993 Daughter Mainstream Rock Tracks 1

/Yellow Ledbetter

1993 Go Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

1993 Go Modern Rock Tracks 8

1992 Alive Mainstream Rock Tracks 16

1992 Alive Modern Rock Tracks 18

1992 Evenflow Mainstream Rock Tracks 3

1992 Evenflow Modern Rock Tracks 21

1992 Jeremy Mainstream Rock Tracks 5

1992 Jeremy Modern Rock Tracks 5

Billboard Magazine Rocks!

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.
Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based digital music journalist & editor. She's currently VP & Editor-In-Chief of Digital at Fuse Media (Fuse.tv) and was previously managing editor of Billboard.com. She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

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