Foo Fighters, Mumford & Sons Top MTV’s Musical March Madness

Evanescence and the Black Keys also grab #1 seeds in MMM 2012. Vote for your favorites now!

It’s back! MTV’s third annual Musical March Madness tips off today (March 12), pitting the 64 bands that matter most against each other in a bracket-battle to the death (OK, no one actually dies, but we’re rolling here). And like in previous years, your votes determine who advances on — and who will ultimately hoist the big gold trophy when the tournament ends April 3.

Can Green Day repeat as MMM champs? Will perennial powerhouses My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds to Mars and Paramore finally make it to the top of the mountain? Or will 2012 bring us another unheralded winner, a la Coheed and Cambria in 2010 ? All of these questions — and more — will be answered in the coming weeks, as the drama and majesty that is Musical March Madness plays out before our very eyes.

But enough hyperbole — let’s get to the action! Voting in all first-round matchups is now live in our interactive bracket, and runs until midnight ET Sunday. You can help your favorite band advance by downloading one of our MMM badges below (they look smashing on any social profile), or by spreading the word via Twitter, using the hashtag #MMM.

Who will reign supreme? Well, it’s up to you. But let’s take a look at the 64 bands that will compete for the 2012 MMM title!

The #1 Seeds

The Black Keys: Riding high thanks to back-to-back breakout albums and a sold-out U.S. arena tour, the Keys nab the top seed in the always-competitive Midwest region. Will playing close to their spiritual home of Akron, Ohio, be enough to guide the dynamic duo all the way to the Final Four? They’ll have their work cut out for them, but with their bruising inside-out game and rebound-grabbing prowess (Carney’s height advantage makes him a beast on the boards), they’re poised for a deep tournament run.

The Foo Fighters: They grabbed a #1 last year, based on the power and prowl of their Wasting Light album, but were upset in the second round by Disturbed. Now they’re back, with an armload of Grammys and a desire for revenge. Can the Foos run the table in the very dangerous West region? We wouldn’t bet against them, especially given the veteran leadership of floor general Dave Grohl, the man who makes it all happen. He’s like Tyshawn Taylor, only with facial hair.

Mumford & Sons: Newcomers to the MMM tourney, Mumford grab the #1 seed in the erudite East region, thanks to the continued success of their Sigh No More album (2011′s best-selling rock album, btw). Sure, they might not be battle-tested, but their combination of speed and strength — and bluegrass leanings — remind us a lot of the Kentucky Wildcats, which could mean they’re bound for greatness this year. As an added bonus, a MMM championship would make for the first time the name “Country Winston Marshall” has ever been engraved on a trophy of any sort.

Evanescence: They roared back from a lengthy hiatus with a chart-topping album and a worldwide tour, both of which earn them the top spot in the South region. They’ve shaken off the rust and appear primed for MMM dominance — especially since their global fanbase will be able to vote. Amy Lee is always a threat from behind the arch, but the band’s true strength might lie in man-mountain Terry Balsamo, who can take anybody to the hole. The rare band to combine power and finesse, Evanescence might very well be the team to beat in 2012.


Vote for your favorite band, discuss and share on Facebook and Twitter in the MTV Musical March Madness interactive bracket!

Midwest
The meaty Midwest gets a bracket brimming with meat-and-potatoes rock, topped by the aforementioned Black Keys and bolstered by the likes of #6 Kid Rock, #8 Nickelback, #11 Chevelle and #14 Five Finger Death Punch. The pride of Wisconsin, Bon Iver, is in as the #2, though he faces a tough opening-round opponent in 15th-seeded Sum 41, who shocked the world with their run to the Elite 8 last year. And speaking of previous tourneys, My Chemical Romance — the only band to make the Final Four twice — are in as the #5, and based on their past successes, they might be the team to beat. Also, the Metallica/Guns N’ Roses first-round tilt is sure to be one for the ages. Here’s a look at the opening matchups:

(Click the artist name to download their official MMM badge.)

(1) Black Keys vs. (16) AWOLNATION
(2) Bon Iver vs. (15) Sum 41
(3) Pearl Jam vs. (14) Five Finger Death Punch
(4) U2 vs. (13) Modest Mouse
(5) My Chemical Romance vs. (12) Death Cab For Cutie
(6) Kid Rock vs. (11) Chevelle
(7) Metallica vs. (10) Guns N’ Roses
(8) Nickelback vs. (9) Rise Against!

West
For the third year running, the West is most definitely the best — bracket, that is. The Foos sit atop a positively loaded field, with established acts like last year’s champs, Green Day, #2 Red Hot Chili Peppers, #3 Blink-182 and #4 Maroon 5, and a host of hotly tipped newcomers, including #6 Foster the People, #8 Best Coast and #13 Lana Del Rey. Plus Van Halen and No Doubt. We wouldn’t discount 15th-seeded Panic! at the Disco (Elite 8 the two previous years) or tourney-tested Adam Lambert, either. If you’re looking for a dark-horse pick, our money’s on Skrillex, who might not technically rock, but used to front From First to Last, and based on his thunderous live sets, definitely knows how to move folks. The first-round matchups are:

(Click the artist name to download their official MMM badge.)

(1) Foo Fighters vs. (16) James Durbin
(2) Red Hot Chili Peppers vs. (15) Panic! at the Disco
(3) Blink-182 vs. (14) Korn
(4) Maroon 5 vs. (13) Lana Del Rey
(5) Green Day vs. (12) the Decemberists
(6) Foster the People vs. (11) Adam Lambert
(7) Van Halen vs. (10) No Doubt
(8) Best Coast vs. (9) Skrillex

East
Once again home to both beard-scratchers and fist-pumpers, the East is truly up for grabs. Like we said, Mumford are MMM virgins, and #2 Coldplay have made the tourney twice before, but never got past the second round. The same can be said for perennial MMM underachievers Arcade Fire, who nab a #5 seed, but seem destined for a first-round exit at the hands of tourney powerhouse Tokio Hotel. Also wading into the chaos are #3 Florence and the Machine, #4 Muse and #8 Radiohead, who will battle #9 Bruce Springsteen in the first round. This one might come down to an Elite 8 showdown between Tokio and 2010 champs Coheed and Cambria — then again, we wouldn’t discount the power of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, who might help carry Semi Precious Weapons to victory. This region is anyone’s guess, really. The opening matchups are:

(Click the artist name to download their official MMM badge.)

(1) Mumford & Sons vs. (16) F–ked Up
(2) Coldplay vs. (15) Arctic Monkeys
(3) Florence and the Machine vs. (14) Refused
(4) Muse vs. (13) Gym Class Heroes
(5) Arcade Fire vs. (12) Tokio Hotel
(6) Fun. vs. (11) Semi Precious Weapons
(7) The Shins vs. (10) Coheed and Cambria
(8) Radiohead vs. (9) Bruce Springsteen

South
There’s plenty of home-grown talent on display in the always-treacherous South, topped by Evanescence, #2 Paramore (last year’s MMM runners up) and the third-seeded Kings of Leon. For the second time in three years, My Morning Jacket and the Dave Matthews Band will go head-to-head in the opening round, in what’s sure to be a Birkenstock-burner. Fourth-seeded Jack White draws a tough opponent in #13 Shinedown, and we genuinely have no idea who wins the 7-10 Cage the Elephant/Ke$ha tilt. Also showing up in the South are powerhouses 30 Seconds to Mars and Linkin Park, both of whom are looking to finally make good on previous tournament promises. Will 2012 be their year? Here’s a breakdown of round one:

(Click the artist name to download their official MMM badge.)

(1) Evanescence vs. (16) Alabama Shakes
(2) Paramore vs. (15) Gotye
(3) Kings of Leon vs. (14) Phoenix
(4) Jack White vs. (13) Shinedown
(5) Linkin Park vs. (12) At The Drive In
(6) 30 Seconds To Mars vs. (11) Sleigh Bells
(7) Cage The Elephant vs. (10) Ke$ha
(8) My Morning Jacket vs. (9) Dave Matthews Band

MTV’s 2012 Musical March Madness Tournament is underway! Voting in the first round runs until midnight ET on Sunday, March 18, and winners are determined by fan votes, so if your favorite act made the cut, it’ll be up to you to guide them to glory. You can rally the troops on Twitter using the hashtag #MMM or by downloading one of our custom badges — but get ready, it’s gonna be a war.