In the following year the cover of “Last Kiss” began to be played by radio stations and was ultimately put into heavy rotation across America. By popular demand the cover was released to the public as a single on June 8, 1999, with all of the proceeds going to the aid of refugees of the Kosovo War. The cover was also featured on the 1999 charity compilation album, No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees. The song helped earn around 10 million dollars for Kosovo relief.
The cover would end up reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100. This remains Pearl Jam’s highest position on the Billboard Hot 100. It peaked at number four on the Top 40 Mainstream. The song peaked at number five on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number two on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The “Last Kiss” single has been certified gold by the RIAA.
Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia, Austria, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached the top ten on the Canadian Singles Chart and became the band’s highest charted song in Canada, and later it charted on the Canadian Rock Top 30 chart where it reached number four and stayed there for two weeks. “Last Kiss” also reached number 22 on the Canadian Year End Rock Top 50. “Last Kiss” reached the top 50 in the UK. “Last Kiss” peaked at number one on the Australian Singles Chart. It reached the top 80 in the Netherlands and was a moderate top 20 success in New Zealand.
Christopher John Farley of Time stated, “It’s a spare, morose song with Vedder’s voice warbling lovelorn over a straight-ahead drum beat. Going back to basics has put Pearl Jam back on top.” Regarding the cover, guitarist Stone Gossard said, “You can try album after album to write a hit and spend months getting drum sounds and rewriting lyrics, or you can go to a used record store and pick out a single and fall in love with it.” Pearl Jam included “Last Kiss” on the 2003 B-sides and rarities album, Lost Dogs, and on the 2004 greatest hits album, rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991–2003).