Why Pearl Jam’s ‘Do The Evolution’ Is The Greatest Music Video Ever

Music videos are normally created for commercial reasons rather than artistic ones. Surely, that is nothing new, but imagine what if they could be something more than hot chicks and the band members playing instruments? Simple, we’d get more music videos like Do the Evolution.

The video for Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution” should be a golden standard for what music videos should and can be, for many reasons. It is the polar opposite of the generic music videos; it can be seen as weird, amazing, dumb, smart, thought-provoking, and probably many other things, but I fail to see how the one could view it as typical.

It does not actually feature the band members

Why is it a good thing the band doesn’t appear in it? Well because it’s really redundant for them to appear in their own videos. Musicians are AUDITORY artists, not a VISUAL artists. People like bands for how they sound and that’s why we buy songs and albums (or illegally download them, which AlternativeNation does not condone!).

But why have the music video if the band’s art is purely sound-based? The music video can add a visually stimulating quality to their music. Something that Do the Evolution does, as opposed to something like this:

Now you may be thinking that musicians would then not get enough credit for their music if they were not to appear in their videos. Okay, but if people cared enough about the music, they would know who made it, especially with the advent of Google, Bing, and Wikipedia.  Let me ask you this dear reader, is Dave Grohl famous for his sweet facial hair or for being apart of Nirvana AND Foo Fighters?

As for “Do the Evolution”, the band of course does not appear in the video which is good because, well, look at the music video for “Iris”. It turns a great song into one of the most generic music videos I have ever seen.

The Visual Style

Good god! The visual style honestly speaks for itself. When you have a guy who directed episodes of Batman: The Animated Series working on your music video, you’re in pretty good hands.

Instead of trying to justify my love for this video’s beautiful comic book style animation, here’s a collage of imagery from Do the Evolution, and hope that you understand the appeal:

Strong Imagery with a Point

While the animation is pretty, what’s being animated is pretty awesome. Look at the collage. The imagery itself can be cool, especially the pilot who is a skeleton.  Okay, does that tie into the story, you may ask yourself? Well sorta, just like how the song is only sorta about evolution.

To summarize what Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder has said about the song, it’s about how Earth has been around a whole lot longer than humans, and yet humans are essentially claiming this world to be their own.

So it is about a evolution of man ascending from low-level apes to being grade-A idiots with Earth. Now how does the music video do in conveying this message?

Well when you really get down to it, this music video is essentially a series of clips showing humanity being a dick about ruling Earth, like showing a series of people being crucified (and then cuts to a guy selling crucifixes) and showing a little girl stepping on an ant hill. Sure, for about the first 30 seconds it’s about animals being dicks to each other for survival of the fittest and what-not, but then it shows people doing stuff like making a baby factory and create a deer-eating tentacle thing.

In short, there’s so many images with a point, that one species cannot run a planet all by itself without committing mass genocide and making baby clone factories.

But the biggest reason this is a golden standard for music videos…

It’s Attention-Grabbing

I once thought Do the Evolution was just one sweet music video, but then I looked into it. Would sweet be the right word? Yes and no. Sure the visuals are captivating, but what’s sweet about watching a bunch of businessmen jump out of a window?

Really, after pondering it, it is essentially a great work of art. It has a way of preaching to you in a way that you don’t even feel preached at. Now let me explain why a little preachy can be good.

Bill Hicks, one of the most legendary comedians of all time, stated how better music came from the heart. But he also mentioned oral sex with Satan to add comedy to his point. There’s also John Carpenter’s They Live, a movie with lots of action, aliens, and one of the greatest one-liners of all time. Did I mention it is anti-consumerism?

Now instead of saying why we’re all horrible people, we see it in a way that’s visually captivating, but then when we realize what we’re watching. Then from there on, the point is driven home in part by the sheer auditory and visual stimulation.

Plus you can never go wrong when your music video has…



And it looks like Jurassic World took a thing or two from the Do The Evolution playbook:

  • Jamie Coughlan

    And there was me thinking that the article might explore how the egocentric/ego maniacal speaker that Eddie Vedder created in the lyrics is complimented through the the at times schizophrenic and chaotic visual imagery of Todd McFarlane’s video (also the creator of Spawn and much more than some guy who directed a few Batman episodes). Or how the video uses visual irony to emphasise the irony of the lyrics. Or how the video adds themes and ideas to the song that aren’t explored in depth in the lyrics themselves e.g. consumerism, cultural reproduction, humanities hubris.

    Alas, no. Instead the video is a success in the art form as it doesn’t feature the band, looks sweet, and has a dinosaur eating a shark.

  • Richzendy

    I love that video, for me is a one from the best musical videos forever