Every so often, I’ll crack open the dusty time capsule (it’s YouTube) to review a retro music video. This week’s decade is the 90s, because that’s when stations like MTV and Much Music actually played music videos and I actually watched them on a real, actual TV.
One of the alternative rock giants of the 90s was Pearl Jam.
“Do the Evolution” is from their 1998 album Yield.
I have a confession to make: I hate Pearl Jam (I know.) Eddie Vedder’s voice is simultaneously boring and grating (I know!) Please stop brandishing your pitchforks. “Do the Evolution” is the one song of theirs that I quite like. That one track and its video are like miraculous diamonds resulting from the Alternative Giant sitting and forcing massive pressure on the pile of turds that is Pearl Jam’s discography. I know… just give me a head start, will you?
The video is directed by Kevin Altieri of Batman: The Animated Series fame and Todd McFarlane of Spawn and Spider-Man comics fame. As a fan of the former, the style feels instantly familiar. The animation is simple yet expressive and pulls off ‘dark and gritty’ better than your modern studio exec could dream (just google “gritty retelling.”)
Its cynical, yet undoubtedly accurate, angle on evolution is primarily of our human, social evolution over strictly squishy things turning into dinosaurs, something, something, monkey people (you scientists have pitchforks, too, huh?) It explores the dark irony of calling a history of perversions and atrocities “evolving.” Progress doesn’t equate to improvement; people rape, steal, and poison their way to the top of the food chain; women are tools for pleasure; and everyone believes their life and what they want matters the most, as we all spiral towards a dancing Death. Who looks like Harley Quinn!
Animation can portray things real life cannot with a distinct tone colour shown through art instead of acting. The whole video is a poignant montage that barrages us with the more gruesome points of advancement. It illustrates the excellent lyrics and characterizes the harder and more driving guitars (than are found in most of Pearl Jam’s hits.) The good news is we’re too smart for our own good, and everything will eventually explode and start anew!
Pearl Jam apparently called “Do the Evolution” a “good stoner video” (ref.) Way to make the description of your own great video suck, guys. Man, they really Pearl Jammed that one. This vid can blow your mind good and sober. It’s truly shocking that this is Pearl Jam, really.
I’ll show myself out.