1. Talent. Each of the members is in the top 10 working musicians in popular music at what they do. Matt Cameron and Eddie Vedder might be the best at what they do. Few people can solo like Mike McCready. The others are nearly as good at what they do, too.
2. 23 years together without breaking up, with most of the original lineup still intact. This means they have worked out the dynamic for working and creating with each other, they trust each other, they work well together, and they respect each other. That means
3. Ticketmaster. Yes, they lost that battle, but it was a battle worth fighting and they were the only ones to fight it.
4. Few, if any videos. So many artists over the years complained about how videos spoiled music, then they went out and made them anyway. Not PJ. They said videos distract from the music and they stopped making them, only
5. Variety. Few rock bands are more experimental and try so many different things and have so many of those things succeed. There really aren't any bad Pearl Jam songs and they can play an acoustic show and a heavy show on the same night. They can do arena rock, radio-friendly ballads, experimental music, punk, classic rock, grunge, pop, bluesy, etc. And they do them all well.
6. Live shows. They play a lot. They play nearly their entire catalog. They throw in great cover songs. They rework songs to make them better or to experiment and try new things. They rock.
7. Vs. Almost an entire album where they upset the traditional verse-chorus-verse song structure and it works really, really well.
8. Ten. Few albums from the 90s were more listened to or more influenced everything that came later. Sure, Smells Like Teen Spirit tore down the doors to radio stations, but more bands tried to copy Pearl Jam because Pearl Jam was more accessible. And then Pearl Jam realized that and started getting less accessible and moved on to bigger and better things that the imitators couldn't follow.
9. "Mind Your Manners" and "Sirens." 23 years in, they write one of their best ballads and a song that rocks just as well as their early stuff.
10. "Jeremy." Few songs are more powerful. Few videos are more powerful.
11. "WMA," "Glorified G," "Bushleaguer." Few bands do politics more artfully than PJ.
12. The live bootleg series. They didn't like the way that their fans were getting crappy inferior products from bootleggers or that the copies that they allowed fans to make for themselves weren't as good as they could be, so they started giving the fans every show as recorded at the soundboard.
13. Charity. Few bands have been more involved in trying to change the world and few bands have given more songs to tribute albums.
14. Fan club and Wishlist. PJ is among the best in the business at rewarding their loyal fans with an annual x-mas single, early access to shows, secret shows, etc. And the fan club does charity, too.
15. "Black." This is an incredibly sexy song. I didn't quite lose my virginity to it, but I almost did.
16. "Daughter," "Elderly Woman Behind the Corner In A Small Town." Eddie Vedder has no problem writing from the perspective of a woman because he respects and understands women.
17. "Long Road," "Man of the Hour." Few songs are more poignant examinations of loss than these two.
18. "Yellow Ledbetter." Nobody knows what this song is about, not even the band. And yet we all yell along with it at the top of our lungs because it's just that awesome.
19. "Gremmie Out of Control," "Last Kiss," "Soldier of Love." How many other bands can cover such disparate oldies and make them all sound better than the originals and sound like they wrote the songs.
20. "Lukin." It's short, but damn is it punk. Especially live.
21. "Spin the Black Circle." Yes, I like vinyl, too. Especially when it rocks this hard.
22. Vitalogy, No Code, Yield. There is so much variety and so much good music on these three albums that it'd be silly to try listing the individual highlights. This is some of the most experimental music ever made by a band that sells millions of albums and almost all of it works really well.
23. Survival. They survived the pressure. They survived the media machine. They survived more drummers than Spinal Tap. They survived drugs and addiction. They survived expectations. They survived the pressures of being a band on the road. They survived the Roskilde tragedy. Who else survived as much?