MTV's third annual Musical March Madness tournament is underway, and just like previous years, the first round is shaping up to be one for the ages, with unthinkable upsets brewing and nail-biting thrillers aplenty.
Voting in our opening round runs until Sunday at midnight ET, so if your favorite band is locked in a fierce battle — Foo Fighters fans, we're looking at you — there's still time to turn the tide. And if you're out for total upset armageddon — James Durbin-ites, this is your time — vote accordingly. Either way, you can spread the word by downloading one of our custom MMM badges, or by using the hashtag #MMM on Twitter. This is, after all, your tournament.
But with 64 bands duking it out for MMM supremacy, we realize sometimes those decisions aren't cut-and-dried ... which is why, all week long, we've been taking a look at each March Madness region (so far we've tackled the Midwest and the West), and today, we turn our attention to the erudite East, a bracket busting both bloggy faves (Arcade Fire, Radiohead, the Shins) and slightly scruffy sensitive types (Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, etc.).
It's also where two of the most successful MMM bands reside: 2010 champions Coheed and Cambria and the always dangerous Tokio Hotel, who have advanced to the Final Four and the Elite 8 in their two previous campaigns. Can anyone stand in their way? Probably not, but let's take a look at all the opening-round matchups.
#1 Mumford & Sons vs. #16 F---ed Up: It's the plaintive pluckers versus the brutal bruisers in round one, as top-seeded Mumford take on the always dangerous F---ed Up. Despite the impassioned pleas (and inspired trash-talk) of F---ed frontman Damian Abraham, Mumford have dominated this one from the get-go and appear poised to waltz on to round two.
#2 Coldplay vs. #15 Arctic Monkeys: Given Coldplay's run of MMM disappointments (they've made it out of the first round once), perhaps this one shouldn't surprise us, but, dang. Thanks to the surprisingly fervent support of their fans, it's the Arctic Monkeys who hold the lead, though their grasp on victory seems to be slipping by the hour, as Coldplay rallies to close the gap. Who advances? We think this one is headed for upset city, and we're taking the Monkeys to move on.
#3 Florence and the Machine vs. #14 Refused: Florence Welch may not be the only female to advance to round two (especially given Paramore and Evanescence's early successes), but she might be the most unlikely. The selection committee believed that reformed Swedish punks Refused would take the upset here, but given Flo's massive lead, well, perhaps we were mistaken. She's a lock to advance at this point.
#4 Muse vs. #13 Gym Class Heroes: Muse made it to the Sweet 16 last year before running into the buzzsaw that is Tokio Hotel. They're at least going to make it to the second round this year, as they hold a commanding lead over a surprisingly sleepy GCH. Still, with Tokio lurking in round two, we wouldn't hold out much hope for Muse's return trip to the land of 16. But, for one week at least, they're a lock.
Vote for your favorite band, discuss and share on Facebook and Twitter in the MTV Musical March Madness interactive bracket!
#5 Arcade Fire vs. #12 Tokio Hotel: Speaking of TH, let's just say they're looking tough, currently pasting Arcade Fire by an historic margin (at last count, more than 144,000 votes). Perhaps it would have been best for Win Butler and company to just have skipped this year's tourney altogether. Watch out for Team Kaulitz.
#6 Fun. vs. #11 Semi Precious Weapons: Now this one could be interesting. Fun. jumped out to the early lead (having a massively successful single will tend to do that), but then watched as they wilted away. Thanks to the tweeting of SPW's Justin Tranter, it's the Weapons who now hold a sizeable advantage, and it looks like they're a lock to advance. Still, there is time, and we wouldn't discount the power of the Fueled by Ramen social squad just yet (hint, hint).
#7 The Shins vs. #10 Coheed and Cambria: Uh, yeah ... this one was pretty much over from the minute the MMM bracket was unveiled, and right now, thanks to their (beyond driven) Children of the Fence, Coheed are up big. Perhaps their only challengers in this bracket are Tokio Hotel, who loom in the Elite 8. It should be a worthy sequel to their now-infamous Final Four tilt in 2010, which Coheed eked out on their way to the title.
#8 Radiohead vs. #9 Bruce Springsteen: Sort of like pitting Duke vs. North Carolina in the opening round, this one has two legendary bands battling it out. And not surprisingly, it's been one of the closest competitions of MMM, with both sides exchanging the lead. Right now, it's Radiohead by roughly 1,700 votes, though this one will certainly come down to the wire. Too close to call.
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.