It's back! MTV's fifth-annual Musical March Madness tournament tips off today, as 64 bands and artists begin the quest for the championship.
Of course, only one will reign supreme ... and, after announcing his shocking retirement from competition, we know it won't be 2013 champ Ed Sheeran. Which means that this year's tournament is truly up for grabs: Are perennial powerhouses like Paramore or Thirty Seconds To Mars finally ready take home that title? Can Tokio Hotel become the first band to win two #MMM championships? Or will 2014 belong to upstarts like Fall Out Boy or Imagine Dragons?
Actually, it could be anybody's year; for the first time, we asked the fans to decide the artists that would compete for the 2014 title, by
Truly, the 2014 tournament has it all: heavyweights like Linkin Park, the Black keys and Foo Fighters, up-and-coming talents like Lorde, the 1975, Bastille and 5 Seconds Of Summer, and a whole lot of first timers, including Bring Me The Horizon, A Day To Remember, We Are The In Crowd and Haim.
Oh, and thanks to your picks, this year's tournament also marks the first time a pair of unsigned bands will compete, as both Mikey Way's Electric Century and fashion-rockers Palaye Royale made the cut.
Why? Well, after some spirited debate by the selection committee — yes, like the actual NCAA tourney, we've got one too — it was decided that their general lack of rocking-ness (the guiding principle behind #MMM) and weak out-of-conference schedules made them unfit for the tournament. I mean, Britney has one win against the RPI Top 50 ... that may be good enough for Wichita State, but it's not good enough for us.
But rather than focus on the folks that aren't in the tournament, let's turn our attention to the 64 that will battle it out for the 2014 title: Voting in all first-round matchups is now underway, and polls will remain open until Monday, March 24 at noon EST.
From there, we'll move on to round two. But first things first ... now that they've all made the tournament, let's take a look at the 64 artists gunning for the 2014 title.
For years, the Mighty Midwest has been the region where meat-and-potatoes rockers play, a trend that continues in 2014. Top seeds Fall Out Boy didn't have to travel too far from their hometown of Chicago, and after last year's run to the #MMM Elite 8, they could go even further this year. FOB might not be tested until the Sweet 16, where a potential matchup #12 Taking Back Sunday looms. On the bottom half of the region, #2 OneRepublic is on upset alert against #15 Amy Lee, who's gunning to become the first-ever pregnant #MMM champ. Of course, keep an eye out for #3 Walk The Moon, who made it all the way to the Final Four last year, or upstarts 5 Seconds of Summer, who, thanks to OneDirection's endorsement, might be the dark horse pick to win it all.
The opening-round matchups in the Midwest are:
#1 Fall Out Boy v. #16 St. Vincent
#8 Grouplove v. #9 Bleachers
#5 The Fray v. #12 Taking Back Sunday
#4 Blink-182 v. #13 Sleeping With Sirens
#6 The Killers v. #11 Nine Inch Nails
#3 Walk The Moon v. #12 U2
#7 Queens of the Stone Age v. #10 5 Seconds of Summer
#2 OneRepublic v. #15 Amy Lee
The Wild West is where last year's #MMM runners-up, Thirty Seconds To Mars, open play as the #2 seed, but the road back to the championship isn't an easy one. They'll draw a tough second-round matchup against either #7 Beck or #10 The Used, with a potential Sweet 16 battle against tourmates Linkin Park looming after that. Atop region, #1 Imagine Dragons are out to prove that last year's opening-round exit was a fluke, though they've got their work cut out for them, drawing #16 Kesha in the first round, and, should they survive that, a potential second-round showdown with Panic! at the Disco. One thing's for certain, whomever wins the West is definitely going to be battle tested.
The opening-round matchups in the West are:
#1 Imagine Dragons v. #16 Kesha
#8 Young The Giant v. #9 Panic! at the Disco
#5 Haim v. #12 Pierce The Veil
#4 Avenged Sevenfold v. #13 AFI
#6 Capital Cities v. #11 Linkin Park
#3 Foster The People v. #14 The Neighbourhood
#7 Beck v. #10 The Used
#2 Thirty Seconds To Mars v. #15 Echosmith
Ah, the Erudite East, home to buzzy blog bands, indie rock acts and, once again, Tokio Hotel, who have won the region each time they've ended up here, and are probably the odds-on favorites to do it again in 2014. They draw #6 Korn in the opening round, and may not be tested again until the Sweet 16, where #2 Lorde could be waiting for them. Vampire Weekend are #1 in the East, but the seeding committee didn't do them any favors, as they go up against unheralded underdogs Palaye Royale in round one, and, should they advance, a second-round tilt against #8 the 1975, who might be one of the only bands in the region strong enough to stand up to TH. Don't overlook #4 Bastille, #13 Electric Century, or #10 Bring Me The Horizon, either.
The opening-round matchups in the East are:
#1 Vampire Weekend v. #16 Palaye Royale
#8 The 1975 v. #9 Coldplay
#5 Arctic Monkeys v. #12 The Vamps
#4 Bastille v. #13 Electric Century
#6 Korn v. #11 Tokio Hotel
#3 Arcade Fire v. #14 Bayside
#7 Tegan and Sara v. #10 Bring Me The Horizon
#2 Lorde v. #15 Phantogram
Paramore sit atop the Sensational South at the #1 seed, and the way this region could shake out, they've got a pretty clear path back to the #MMM Final Four. They'll more than likely defeat #16 American Authors in round one, then draw the winner of the Daft Punk/Disclosure dance-off in round two, and after that, well ... let's just say we don't see the getting tested anywhere else. Then again, never underestimate newcomers like #7 We The Kings, #10 We Are The In Crowd or Ed Sheeran's personal pick, #11 Passenger, each of whom are more than capable of stringing together a couple wins and making a surprise run to the championship.
The opening-round matchups in the South are:
#1 Paramore v. #16 American Authors
#8 Daft Punk v. #9 Disclosure
#5 Cage The Elephant v. #12 A Day To Remember
#4 The Black Keys v. #13 Rixton
#6 The Dead Weather v. #11 Passenger
#3 Foo Fighters v. #14 New Politics
#7 We The Kings v. #10 We Are The In Crowd
#2 Kings of Leon v. #15 Against Me!
MTV's Musical March Madness tournament begins! Vote in all first-round matchups now at MMM.MTV.com, and spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #MMM