Pearl Jam Tournament Bracket (Part One)

28 Sep

In honor of their 20th anniversary (and the release of the movie Pearl Jam Twenty), I definitely wanted to do something Pearl Jam related. I saw the film last week with my girlfriend when it came out and I give it two emphatic thumbs up. I was considering doing one of my #BandsYouNeedToSeeLiveBeforeYouDie posts, but yet I didn’t think this enough would encompass the full scope of Pearl Jam’s career. I will do one in the future, just not right now.

Instead, I decided to undertake something so time consuming and so obsessive-compulsive that only I would be able to undertake such a burden. I got this idea from a Tool message board that I am a part of, as well as a blog post who did this for Jay-Z songs. I picked 64 Pearl Jam songs, via, live shows, personal favorites, fan favorites, etc. and ordered them, split them into four groups and have them battle it out, March Madness style. This is a completely subjective task, yet I welcome all of you to put your thoughts in the comment box. I am going to split this into four posts and I’ll post one each day for the next four days. One bracket a day. On day four, the fourth post, I’ll have the final four battle it out. So keep up with the Strong Move for the next few days.

In honor of their affinity for Seattle sports, I decided to name each region of the bracket after a different Seattle Supersonic from the 1990s, the golden age of both the Sonics and Pearl Jam. Here are the four regions and the corresponding seeding for each one.

Shawn Kemp Region

1. Jeremy

2. Why Go

3. Better Man

4. Do The Evolution

5. Go

6. Dissident

7. Spin The Black Circle

8. State of Love and Trust

9. Amongst The Waves

10. The End

11. Light Years

12. Life Wasted

13. Hail, Hail

14. Love Boat Captain

15. Faithfull

16. Breakerfall

Sam Perkins Region

1. Even Flow

2. Once

3. Porch

4. Animal

5. The Fixer

6. Corduroy

7. Got Some

8. Not For You

9. Off He Goes

10. Indifference

11. Supersonic

12. Tremor Christ

13. Brain of J

14. Of The Girl

15. Leatherman

16. Brother

Detlef Schrempf Region

1. Black

2. Last Kiss

3. Just Breathe

4. Garden

5. Release

6. Nothingman

7. Rearviewmirror

8. Immortality

9. Wishlist

10. Nothing As It Seems

11. Save You

12. Who You Are

13. Man Of The Hour

14. Thumbing My Way

15. Inside Job

16. Red Mosquito

Hersey Hawkins Region

1. Alive

2. Daughter

3. Oceans

4. Yellow Ledbetter

5. Elderly Woman Behind A Counter In A Small Town

6. Given To Fly

7. I Am Mine

8. Unthought Known

9. World Wide Suicide

10. Glorified G

11. Last Exit

12. Whipping

13. Leash

14. In Hiding

15. Alone

16. I Got Id

Ok, yeah this is going to take a long time. No turning back now.

For those of you unfamiliar, the pairings look like this. Number one plays number sixteen. In the next round the face the winner between number eight and nine. Two and fifteen face off, who then face the winner of seven and ten. Three and fourteen, winner of six and eleven. Then the other two. You’ll see as we go along. There’s a good chance I was these last few sentences, because most of everyone knows how this goes.

Given their huge library, I can almost guarantee there are some people unhappy with me leaving some songs off. My reaction to that: do this yourself. Or just a comment below would suffice.

Today, we tackle the Shawn Kemp bracket.

Kemp was an intense player on the basketball court, know for his big dunks. Off of the court, he is know for other things. Likewise, this region is topped with one of PJ’s most intense songs, Jeremy. Let’s get right to the matchups.

1. Jeremy vs. 16. Breakerfall

One off of Ten and one off of Binaural. Breakerfall is a straight-up rock song, while Jeremy’s dark subject matter is foreshadowed with the ominous bass line that leads the song off. Jeremy is far more memorable with its lyrics and the breakdown at the end. Breakerfall doesn’t even stand a chance. 88-57

8. State of Love and Trust vs. 9. Amongst The Waves

State of Love and Trust was recorded in the earlier days of the band’s existence, during the Ten sessions. It was later released as part of the band’s greatest hits collection. Amongst The Waves, however is from their newest album Backspacer. How State of Love and Trust was not able to make it on an album is puzzling, it is an infectious song that simply rocks live. Amongst The Waves is one of my favorite newer songs. Expect a lot of battle between the eight and nine seeds, and this one is no exception. State of Love and Trust pulls away late in the fourth quarter 71-62.

2. Why Go vs. 15. Faithfull

Sensing a lot of Ten love? It’s a great album, it should come as no surprise. Faithull is a chill jam from Yield and is a welcome reprieve when they play it in concert. But it simply can’t stand up to Why Go. 77-61 in a game that’s closer than it looks.

7. Spin The Black Circle vs. 10. The End

Once again, two completely different songs. Spin The Black Circle is one of the hardest and fastest songs from their catalog, while The End is one of their more mellow ones. They’re two sides of the same Pearl Jam coin; they excel in both rock songs and ballad. When faced with this decision, the question should be which would you rather see live? The nod goes to the seven seed. 71-64.

3. Better Man vs. 14. Love Boat Captain

The fact that Better Man is a three seed is more a tribute to how many good songs Pearl Jam has. Better Man is a classic and an instant pleaser in the live setting. Love Boat Captain is decent, but it can’t stack up. 90-71 after Better Man puts their bench in early and Love Boat Captain narrows the lead.

6. Dissident vs. 11. Light Years

Light Years is another track from Binaural and also made it into the band’s greatest hits collection. The guitar riff at the beginning of Dissident is just too much though. Dissident gets ahead early and never looks back 86-72

4. Do The Evolution vs. 13. Hail Hail

The first real nailbiter of the region. Both are hard rock songs, both are fantastic live. Do The Evolution breaks the tie with a final second jumper 64-62. Hail Hail just couldn’t pull off the upset.

5. Go vs. 12. Life Wasted

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first upset in this region. Life Wasted, from the group’s self-titled album, in one of the best songs off its album and, while Go kicks off Vs. strong, it just can’t keep up with Life Wasted. 79-72

So the number 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 12 seeds move on. Not too many surprises, but that’s all about to change…

1. Jeremy vs. 8. State Of Love And Trust

It pains me to pick against Jeremy. It was one of the first songs I’ve ever liked as a kid and remains a classic. But State Of Love and Trust packs a hard punch. It highlights Pearl Jam at its best and is one of their most underrated songs. It catches Jeremy napping, 74-70, clinched by a late three-pointer.

4. Do The Evolution vs. 12. Life Wasted

Both teams exhausted from their first round matchups, this one becomes sloppy. Do The Evolution takes care of business, playing solid defense, and keeping the upstart Life Wasted from pulling off another upset. 62-55.

2. Why Go vs. 7. Spin The Black Circle

This one is closer than people realize, but the guitar solo in Why Go separates it from Spin The Black Circle. Both are great songs to jam out to, but Why Go takes it in the end. 75-64

3. Better Man vs. 6. Dissident

Early bracket favorite Better Man faces serious competition in Dissident. One is off of Vitalogy and one off of Vs. I just think Better Man is too much of a classic. It holds off Dissident. 79-74

2, 3, 4, and 8 advance. On we go…

2. Why Go vs. 3. Better Man

This could be the battle that decides the winner of this region, with the number one seed out of the picture. Once again, Better Man is so powerful in a live setting. While Why Go is a fantastic song and is very worth of a spot in the Elite 8, it gets the raw end of the deal, facing a formidable opponent in an early matchup. Better Man by a score of 68-61

4. Do The Evolution vs. 8. State of Love and Trust

Do The Evolution has escaped close games in both rounds, while State of Love and Trust has made a nice run. Who takes this one? State of Love and Trust continues breaking hearts and squeaks by with a 78-74 victory.

And now to determine the champion of the region…

3. Better Man vs. 8. State of Love and Trust

Actually you know what, never mind. I’m going to leave this on a cliffhanger. I’ll do everything in the last post, declare the final four, and the tournament winner. For now, I’ll just leave it at this. In the Shawn Kemp region, we have boiled it down to the third seed and the eighth seed. Can State of Love and Trust continue its miracle run? Or will the popular Better Man take it? Stay tuned, I’ll post all of the results on Saturday. Tomorrow, we tackle the Sam Perkins region. Here’s a video of each of the final two songs in the Kemp region.





2 Responses to “Pearl Jam Tournament Bracket (Part One)”

  1. Chris l September 28, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    How does just breathe have a higher seed than yellow leadbetter and edlery woman??

    • arrrrrmando September 28, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      I weighted the charts pretty highly since it makes it a little more accurate I guess to what people listen to. But it slants it to newer songs favor. Don’t worry I account for this as it goes on. Just Breathe’s region was a little easier than probably all of the other ones, but I was trying to imitate the NCAA as closely as possible haha. Ledbetter and Elderly Woman get their due in the end.

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