I'm going to be honest: I didn't expect this — any of this — to happen.
Last week, when I wrote my "Musical March Madness" column, I did it mostly because I love college basketball, gambling and superfluous list-making. I made my selections largely at random. I left out a whole bunch of bands I probably shouldn't have (Linkin Park, Trent Reznor/Nine Inch Nails — two powerhouses inexplicably relegated to the NIT, sort of like North Carolina and UConn). I drew up a bracket by hand, for crying out loud.
I was not prepared for what happened next. Somehow, my sprawling, slightly stupid project became a fairly big deal, getting coverage on places like NPR and even The Ethiopian Review, and inspiring bands to rally their fanbases to help them advance. In the end, there were hundreds of thousands of votes being cast on the Newsroom blog, some genuine rage, and a whole lot of upsets in the first round of the tourney.
Needless to say, I'm pretty amazed by all the attention it got, not to mention all the brackets I received from readers: well thought-out, carefully crafted things with lengthy explanations of picks ("Petite-but-voluble Pete Wentz makes it to the Sweet 16 before being muscled out by Detroit's own White Stripes, who go on to win the region over the very entertaining but predictable [read: West Virginia] Foo Fighters") and everything. So before we get to the updated field, I want to tell those folks who sent in brackets that, yes, one of you will win something; I'm thinking that I'll pick the bracket that's closest to the actual results. The prize? An autograph from the band who wins the championship. I figure all your hard work (and insanity) should be rewarded. I just hope you picked a ton of upsets.
So, here are the first-round results ... it's all based on percent of votes, BTW, and some of the scores only further demonstrate the power some bands have to rapidly mobilize their fanbases. If reading isn't your thing, you can view an updated bracket here. Region-by-region voting on the second-round matchups will commence Wednesday afternoon (March 24) and run until Sunday night over on the Newsroom Blog (link http://newsroom.mtv.com/tag/march-madness/).
And given how things have played out so far (hope you didn't have a #1 seed winning the whole thing,) I expect a fair amount of insanity the rest of the way. What can I say? You've impressed me!
Upsets galore in the "Flyover Bracket," as only two higher-ranked bands advanced to the second round. I honestly don't even know where to start, though the 16th-seeded Hold Steady's shocking triumph over #1 Nickelback seems like as good a place as any. Are Craig Finn and company the St. Mary's of the tournament, or the Cornell? Perhaps both. Other eye-opening results: 14th-seeded AFI over #3 the Foo Fighters, 11th-seeded Shinedown over #6 Cobra Starship, and #9 Patrick Stump besting his heavily favored former bandmate, eighth-seeded Pete Wentz.
Here are the results:
(16) The Hold Steady def. (1) Nickelback, 56-45
(2) Muse def. (15) Red Hot Chili Peppers, 51-49
(14) AFI def. (3) The Foo Fighters, 87-13
(4) The White Stripes def. (13) Rise Against, 59-41
(12) OK Go def. (5) Slipknot, 60-40
(11) Shinedown def. (6) Cobra Starship, 50-50 (OT, Shinedown won on total votes)
(10) Breaking Benjamin def. (7) 3OH!3, 90-10
(9) Patrick Stump def. (8) Pete Wentz, 51-49
As a result, the Midwest is anyone's to win, although Muse have to be the presumptive favorites at this point. Second-round matchups are #16 The Hold Steady vs. #9 Patrick Stump, #12 OK Go vs. #4 the White Stripes, #11 Shinedown vs. #14 AFI, and #10 Breaking Benjamin vs. #2 Muse.
Congrats to Blink-182, who were the only #1 seed to make it out of the first round and did so in convincing style. But the West was far from upset-free, as evidenced by #15 Panic! at the Disco's win over #2 seed (and dark horse favorite) Green Day, and #14 the Young Veins' win over #3 Jack Johnson — which goes to show you that both bands still know how to get out the vote. My Chemical Romance faced a tough first-round test from the upstart Gorillaz, but moved on in an overtime thriller (Gerard Way drained a three-pointer at the buzzer).
(1) Blink-182 def. (16) Angels & Airwaves, 83-17
(15) Panic! at the Disco def. (2) Green Day, 52-48
(14) The Young Veins def. (3) Jack Johnson, 74-26
(4) Pearl Jam def. (13) Hollywood Undead, 57-43
(5) My Chemical Romance def. (12) Gorillaz, 50-50 (OT, MCR won total votes)
(6) Weezer def. (11) Sublime, 68-32
(7) Death Cab for Cutie def. (10) Soundgarden, 67-33
(9) 30 Seconds to Mars def. (8) Modest Mouse, 58-42
I still like Blink here, but they face a stout challenge in their second-round opponent, 30 Seconds to Mars. Hearts will be broken, one way or the other. In other second-round action, it's #5 My Chemical Romance vs. #4 Pearl Jam, #6 Weezer vs. #14 the Young Veins, and #7 Death Cab for Cutie vs. #15 Panic! at the Disco. And don't think I'm not already eyeing the potential Veins/Panic! tilt in the Sweet 16.
If I learned one thing in doing this tournament, it's that you cannot underestimate the tenacity of Tokio Hotel fans. They voted en masse, and led the Brothers Kaulitz (and the other dudes) to a shocking first-round upset of #1 seed Coldplay (who are basically Kansas at this point ... the basketball team, not the 1970s band). This played out pretty much according to plan everywhere else, though I'm sort of amazed that Grizzly Bear snuck by U2. (OK, not sort of: totally.)
(16) Tokio Hotel def. (1) Coldplay, 81-19
(2) Animal Collective def. (15) Faith No More, 56-44
(3) Owl City def. (14) the Gaslight Anthem, 55-45
(4) Vampire Weekend def. (13) Pavement, 80-20
(5) Phoenix def. (12) the National, 79-21
(6) Grizzly Bear def. (11) U2, 51-49
(7) MGMT def. (10) the Arcade Fire, 59-41
(8) Radiohead def. (9) Spoon, 79-21
At this point, how can you bet against Tokio Hotel? They've already knocked off one British band, and they'll set their sights on a second when they square off against #8 Radiohead in round two. The other second-round matchups pit #4 Vampire Weekend against #5 Phoenix (blog fight!), #3 Owl City vs. #6 Grizzly Bear, and #2 Animal Collective vs. #7 MGMT.
To put it mildly, this region is officially shot to hell. Not only did play-in winner Creed inexplicably top #1 Kings of Leon, but #15 Coheed and Cambria knocked off #2 Paramore, #13 Alice in Chains disposed of #4 Lil Wayne, and #12 Nick Jonas bested #5 John Mayer. I have no idea who will win this thing now, though don't count out #6 Phish, who crushed #11 My Morning Jacket in a first-round showdown. Or Adam Lambert, whose Glamberts turned out in full force to propel him past Kris Allen.
Here are your results:
(16) Creed def. (1) Kings of Leon, 60-40
(15) Coheed and Cambria def. (2) Paramore, 89-11
(3) Dave Matthews Band def. (14) Them Crooked Vultures, 68-32
(13) Alice in Chains def. (4) Lil Wayne, 62-38
(12) Nick Jonas def. (5) John Mayer, 57-43
(6) Phish def. (11) My Morning Jacket, 82-18
(10) Mastodon def. (7) All Time Low, 69-31
(9) Adam Lambert def. (8) Kris Allen, 79-21
The inexplicable second-round matchups are #9 Adam Lambert vs. #16 Creed, #12 Nick Jonas vs. #13 Alice in Chains, #3 Dave Matthews Band vs. #6 Phish (a tilt that may divide the JamBase set forever), and #10 Mastodon vs. #15 Coheed and Cambria.
Once again, region-by-region voting on the second-round matchups will commence Wednesday afternoon (March 24) and run until Sunday night over on the Newsroom blog Vote early, vote often, and perhaps you can help your favorite band win a largely arbitrary and non-existent championship!