Preview of the Great EightEdit
- The 00's match-up was pretty much what I expected to see. I was honestly surprised that Shinedown very nearly beat Linkin Park, as I thought they were going to have a very easy road to the regional finals. Foo Fighters, by contrast, were supposed to have two difficult match-ups, but Cage the Elephant took Breaking Benjamin out of the mix, and so they only had to get past Disturbed. Going from past history, this match should favor the Foo Fighters. The match is at 11 am, and the Foos seem like more of a Pierre-shift band than Linkin Park does as well. The Foo Fighters are the winningest band in the 00's, and have taken the division twice before. I expect that they probably will this time as well, as much as I'm pulling for Linkin Park.
- That Metallica makes the great eight should come as a surprise to nobody. Disappointment to Rush fans, perhaps, but completely standard. Rush Fans, you're now 0-4 against Metallica. The only other band Metallica has faced three times in the past? Bon Jovi, who they have beaten all three times as well. Bon Jovi may have had a harder path, being fairly evenly-matched with both Van Halen and AC/DC, however they really are Livin On a Prayer if they expect to beat Metallica this year.
- Tool has stomped the competition thus far, only hitting a speed bump against Pearl Jam. As I've said before, if Pearl Jam can't beat Tool, what band can take them down? I suspected maybe Alice in Chains would have had a shot, considering that they're another band that rocks hard without being fast, they're not quite the mainstream vanilla band that a Pearl Jam-esque band would be, and thus they would have a legitimate chance at winning the swing voters. Hardcore Tool fans are fairly few, really, but most people like Tool enough to be willing to vote for them, and will usually side with Tool when it isn't against their favorite band. The key to beating Tool is in commanding the swing vote, and I really don't see any chance that the Red Hot Chili Peppers can do that. In the past, the only example of a hard band losing to a soft band in a high-profile match-up was in 2006 when Pink Floyd beat Metallica. Expect this to be the biggest blow-out on Monday.
- The 70's is going to be the hardest of the quarterfinals to call. Aerosmith beat Led Zeppelin, and Aerosmith beat Pink Floyd, so surely Aerosmith can beat Queen, right? Well, maybe. If this had been a round one match, I would have given the nod to Queen here as they've simply had the better track record in the tourney. The question has to be, "how much better?" Clearly, it was the Steven Tyler phone call that put Aerosmith over Led Zeppelin on Thursday. Carry-over of that phone call, coupled with the time of the match and the momentum that was built from winning over LZ swept them past Pink Floyd. However, when this match arrives, it will have been four days since the Aerosmith front man's interview with Pierre. Philadelphians do have a long memory with some things, ("He's a flaming terd!") but will the weekend kill the momentum and good will that was key to Aerosmith's last two victories? And if not, will they be able to beat Queen wtihout a boost? Listeners do start asking themselves at this stage in the tournament who they want to hear an A-to-Z from, and either of these bands would be equally great, so that's a wash. I'm going to suspect that the bandwagon will carry into Monday, and although it will be weakened from the weekend hangover, it will be enough to carry past Queen. It helps that this is a Pierre-shift match, and he will surely be eager to remind everyone of Thursday's infamous phone call.
- The winner of the 00's, whoever it is, will lose to Metallica. That's not in question. The only hope either Foo Fighters or Linkin Park have is if they get some unlikely help from Bon Jovi. Metallica is clearly the favorite on this side of the bracket, as they should be able to roll both matches, but this is also the stage where sometimes strange things happen.
- Speaking of strange things, it will take something pretty strange for Tool to NOT be in the finals at this point. The Chili Peppers are simply not going to beat Tool. There's no way it will happen. There could be an announcement that Maynard James Keenan went on a shooting rampage and killed 13 people, and people would still vote for Tool. Thus, it's a matter of if Aerosmith (or Queen) can beat them. The answer is "not very likely." It's going to depend on how many nostalgic fans of classic rock are listening at 4:00 on a Monday, and just how powerful that phone call proves to be.
- Assuming Metallica is in the finals, they should beat anyone except perhaps a bandwagoning Aerosmith. Metallica has shown in the past they can handle Tool, and are probably the only band at all that we can be reasonably confident will do so. Thus, if Metallica makes the finals, the right-side winner faces a very steep uphill battle to win.
- Assuming Tool is in the finals, they will lose to Metallica. They will not lose to Bon Jovi or the Foo Fighters. It is highly unlikely they will lose to Linkin Park, although it is a very remote possibility. That pairing is only going to happen if Metallica loses to Bon Jovi, however, so don't expect it.
- Percent odds to win: 60% Metallica, 30% Tool, 5% Aerosmith, 5% split between others
- And one interesting sidenote...there are five past champions. Breaking Benjamin lost in round 1. Led Zeppelin lost in round 2. Pink Floyd lost in round 3. Could it be that Metallica will lose in round 4 to Bon Jovi, and then Tool will succumb to Aerosmith in round 5? That would be truly bizarre, but not completely impossible.
Leading into Round 2...Edit
The round 1 matches have led to some interesting round 2 matches. LOTS of rematches.
- (1) Foo Fighters vs (9) Cage the Elephant -- Who wins this one is anybody's guess. The obvious choice would be The Foos, but the truth is that drawing a rookie in round 2 is usually bad news for the proven favorite. Ask the bands that faced Iron Maiden and Stevie Ray last year how that went. Oh yeah, and Breaking Benjamin won in their first year, remember? Don't count Cage out of this one, especially with it being the 9:00 match on Wednesday, when the FF fans might not realize what's going on, and the pit likes its elephant-caging. Definitely a favorable time slot for CtE.
- (5) Godmsack vs (4) Disturbed -- Rematch of the 2006 regional finals. Godsmack won that one. I have to think that Godsmack is the favorite in this match, but it's much too close for me to stake money on that claim.
- (11) Seether vs (3) Shinedown -- Also a rematch of 2006, this time the 8-9 match-up in round 1. Seether looked poised to win that one until the last few voters put it into a tie and overtime. And then double overtime. And finally a "shoot-out" -- Jaxon took one last caller to decide the match. He went Shinedown. Don't think Seether is going to live that down. Shinedown has gone on to modest success, while Seether has flubbed or been scratched ever after.
- (7) The Killers vs (2) Linkin Park -- I thought the Killers were going to have no chance in round 1. They were a band coming in at 0-5, against a band that was able to win once last year. However, they pulled it off, which just means they're going against real competition now. Expect a blowout.
- (1) AC/DC vs (9) Ozzy Osbourne -- AC/DC beat Ozzy in round 3 of 2009 before losing to Metallica in their deepest run ever. However, we're pitting an 8-5 band against a 7-5 band, and Ozzy's matches tend to be coin flips. Anything could happen. Especially at 11 AM.
- (5) Bon Jovi vs (4) Van Halen -- Jovi beat VH in 2008, if that sets any precedent. Bon Jovi also has a better lifetime record, with 3 more wins to their name. I'm betting this favors Bon Jovi, but the 3 PM time slot is right in the middle of what would be favorable for either band.
- (6) Rush vs (14) The Police -- I was expecting to write this was a rematch of round 1 of 2008...and then G'N'R lost. Instead it's a rematch of 2007. The Police won that one. However, Rush was 0-2 after that loss, and they have gone 8-3 since. The Police's lifetime record is 2-5. (Both excluding round 1 of this year.) I'd call 2007 a fluke.
- (7) Tom Petty vs (2) Metallica -- Metallica is obviously the favorite in basically any match they enter, however it's important to note that Tom Petty did defeat Metallica in their only legitimate loss within the 80's, back in 2007. (Metallica also lost in round 1 last year, but that was due to anti-votes, rather than a strong vote for The Clash.) Petty also beat last year's hottest sensation to get here, so don't count him out.
- (1) Pearl Jam vs (8) Tool -- Let's save this one for the end of the list.
- (5) The Offspring vs (4) Green Day -- A SoCal punk-off. At a glance, this should favor Green Day. Their records (6 wins vs 2) clearly favor Green Day, plus Green Day has won head-to-head. However, don't count The Offspring out; they're a scrappy band, and most of their losses were hard-fought. They almost beat Pearl Jam last year, and they've already avenged one of those losses by putting the smackdown on Soundgarden in round 1.
- (11) Weezer vs (3) RHCP -- Both these bands got a gift win in round 1. The difference is, Weezer's was because their competition flopped. The Chili Peppers simply had a bye. Expect a band that came into the tournament at .500 to beat a band that came into it at .000
- (10) Korn vs (2) Alice in Chains -- STP/AIC would have been a rematch, but Korn screwed that up. Or STP did, depending on your perspective. Whatever Korn did have going for themselves against a band like Stone Temple Pilots is probably not going to translate as well against Alice in Chains, who is probably the most Korn-like band in the bracket. And also very strong. I could be way off here, since there's no precedent, but I think the writing's on the wall here. Korn needed to draw anyone but AIC in round 2. Even Tool would have been a better match-up.
- (16) ZZ Top vs (8) Lynyrd Skynyrd -- I really didn't expect one of these bands to be here, and it wasn't ZZ Top. Still, I shouldn't have counted out Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I'm certainly not counting them out now. They have past wins on Led Zeppelin and now Jimi Hendrix. I think they can handle ZZ Top. Oh, but ZZ Top beat the Rolling Stones, you say? No offense, but in this tournament, my roommate's garage band could beat the Rolling Stones. (I wonder what would happen if the Stones played Creed...)
- (5) The Who vs (4) Queen -- In the past, Queen has beaten Hendrix and Marley, artists that have both defeated The Who twice. The transitive theory should suggest this means Queen > The Who. However, math and logic have no place in this tournament. After a hard-fought overtime win, The Who are either gonna be ailing or pumped up. I can't be certain, but I think a 5 PM time favors Queen, though.
- (6) Led Zeppelin vs () Aerosmith/Ramones -- There's one simple truth to the 70's region. If your name is not Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd, and your opponent's is, you lose. Sorry, come back next year. Don't expect to get past round 3 though! Never mind that Aerosmith has had an average seed over the last 3 years of #4, and has one win during that time span to lowly KISS. I don't think we have to fear an upset here.
- (10) Bob Marley vs (2) Pink Floyd -- I'll never understand how Bob Marley does so well on rock stations. Yes, the man himself does rock, but his music isn't of the rock format. So I give him props, especially for the way he tends to move ahead in the bracket each year...but that typically culminates in meeting the roadblock that is Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd. Refer to the write-up for the preceding match-up. Pink Floyd has never lost before round 4, and that might end this year, but it will be against Led Zep in round 3 if it does.
And finally, Pearl Jam vs Tool...there are only two major dogged rivalries in MMRch Madness. One is Zeppelin vs Floyd. The other is Pearl Jam vs Tool. To give you a recap, 2006 Pearl Jam had no competition in the 90's whatsoever and moved ahead easily. In 2007, Tool made their way into the bracket and proceeded to mop up a few easy wins in a soft schedule before colliding with Pearl Jam, who beat them handily. However, since that time, Pearl Jam has been a broken team. Their loss in the finals to Breaking Benjamin just hasn't left them the same, and in that funk, they have been taken out by Tool every year since. Of course, in that time frame, Tool has absolutely manhandled everyone else they've faced, and Pearl Jam has (barely in some cases) managed to hold onto their matches, so the 90's winner always comes down to Pearl Jam vs Tool. It's happened twice in round two before, but I think the stakes are much higher this year. Pearl Jam did not look weak in their round 1 match against Live, as they did last year. Tool was not riding off the label of "tournament champion" then either, and so people going against the establishment will have a harder time swaying toward Tool this time around. Plus, the match is at 12:00, which is about as unfriendly a time slot as Tool can get. If there will ever be a time for Pearl Jam to show that they still can beat Tool, this is it. If Pearl Jam doesn't beat Tool this year, they never will again. And we can only hope that somebody will be able to rise up and take out Tool so they aren't the automatic winners of the 90's each year. (If that happens though, can they get at least a 2 seed?) I do see it as plausible that Alice in Chains could make a run at Tool if PJ drops this match, but the odds are almost guaranteed that you're looking at the 90's region winner in this match, even while 6 other bands remain.
The power players year after year in the 70's are Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Essentially, every year, their face-off at the end determines the winner from the 70s, as they stomp everyone into the ground along the way. (One year Zeppelin lost early to Skynyrd, which let the Grateful Dead sneak through.) The most successful other groups have been Hendrix, Bob Marley, and The Grateful Dead.
- The Rolling Stones got a 1 seed again? How the hell...? If they lose to ZZ Top, I hereby motion that they be banned from the tournament. Only two other bands have lost EVERY SINGLE YEAR in round 1, and they have a combined one time being seeded as the favorite. (Killers, 2007)
- Pink Floyd vs Grateful Dead, lol. Poor Pierre. And the match is at 8 pm, so he doesn't even get to enjoy it.
- Alongside the remarkable #1 for Rolling Stones, what is Led Zeppelin doing as #6? Could we maybe switch those two? This is going to lead to our first LZ vs PF that isn't the division finals...not cool.
- If The Who can win their first two matches, there is a very real chance they could face Jimi Hendrix in round 3. This is significant because 4 out of 5 years The Who have been bounced by a black man. (Hendrix twice, Marley twice)
- Round 1 quick predictions: Favorites except (16) ZZ Top over (1) Rolling Stones, (9) Hendrix over (8) Skynyrd, and (10) Marley over (7) Sabbath. Round two winners are Hendrix, Queen, Zeppelin, Floyd. Division final is Floyd over Hendrix.
- Close to call: Rolling Stones / ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd / Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin vs Pink Floyd (expected round 3)
The truth about the 80's region is that Metallica wins. There are some other groups with some measure of success, and technically Bon Jovi and Rush have both win the 80's in the past, but mostly only because Metallica allowed them to. Metallica is the only band in the top 10 list for wins that comes from the 80's. It's nobody else's to win -- it's Metallica's to lose.
- Wow, AC/DC ousts Metallica at #1. I thought it was strange when U2 got the 1 in '07, but AC/DC is a slightly more realistic choice.
- Poor REM got trounced by Metallica before at 1-16, and now again at 2-15. They were probably so happy to not get the 16 seed, too.
- GNR is in the 3 seed, and has no chance for a Pierre shift match until round 4. Not that they'd go that far, but at least they have a chance in round 1 this year!
- Who let Genesis back into the tournament? Seriously? Are these guys good for anything besides kicking U2's butt?
- Does Rush ever not get seeded 6?
- Petty vs Maiden is going to be a VERY hard match to call. Petty is typically strong, but Maiden had a hell of a run last year.
- U2 vs Ozzy isn't going to be any easier. The Prince of Randomness never ceases to darken my bracket, whether I pick for or against him.
- Round 1 quick predictions: (1) AC/DC) over (16) Def Leppard, (9) Ozzy over (8) U2, (5) Bon Jovi over (12) Genesis, (4) VH over (13) Crue, (6) Rush over (11) Beasties, (3) GNR over (14) The Police, (7) Petty over (10) Maiden, (2) Metallica over (15) REM. Round two winners are Ozzy, Bon Jovi, Rush, and Metallica. Division finals are Metallica over Bon Jovi.
- Close to call: (7) Petty vs (10) Maiden, (8) U2 vs (9) Ozzy, (1) AC/DC vs winner of U2/Ozzy in round 2
The 90's were originally sole propriety of Pearl Jam, and then something shifted in 2008, and it suddenly became Tool's playground. Since then, Pearl Jam has never lost to anyone other than Tool, but they haven't looked good doing it, while Tool has simply curb-stomped everyone. The only band that has consistently performed well over the years is Alice in Chains, who typically wins until they meet one of the two. So in a nutshell, the priority for picking a winner goes like this: (1) Tool, (2) Tool, (3) Tool, (4) Tool, (5) Pearl Jam, (6) Alice in Chains, (7) Anybody else
Because Tool has been so dominant, it's worth specifically talking about them for a bit. Other bands have been dominant in the past, such as Metallica and Pink Floyd, but nowhere near as much so as Tool in the last three years. It's not very odd when you think about why, though. Tool is a non-mainstream band that gets some measure of mainstream attention. It's cool to like Tool. It's somewhat boring to say you like Pearl Jam by comparison. Tool also rocks pretty hard, which is a big plus in the tournament. So basically, when you look at voters, there are the fans of band A, the fans of band B, and then everybody else. Those swing voters are sometimes apathetic, sometimes not, but they seem to come out in droves for Tool. You can't beat Tool unless you can out-swing them.
Since Tool is the returning champion, they actually do have a bullseye on their back this year. In the past, that wouldn't really be the case, but if Metallica losing in round 1 of 2010 is any indication, Tool is destined to eventually take a dive. And maybe, just maybe, somebody else will win the 90's this year. It won't be Dave Matthews to take them out in round 1. DMB isn't strong enough and doesn't have a good enough time slot. Tool is weakest around noon, and strongest during Jaxon's shift. Conveniently, round 2 is at noon, against the winner of Pearl Jam vs Live. While this could be a chance for Pearl Jam to finally even things up a bit, I have a funny feeling it might fall to Alice in Chains to get the job done...
- Pearl Jam vs Live in round 1 again? Well, it was a close match, and Live is always hard as nails despite poor seeding. This is going to be the match to watch in round 1, since it will determine just how strong PJ is and if they have a chance against Tool or not. Pearl Jam has been fading every year since 2007. I really don't know if they have it in them to beat Tool, and I really think they could even lose to Live.
- AIC finally getting some props with a 2 seed. They always come out hard, though they usually get like a 7 seed. Alas, poor Collective Soul.
- Creed's back! Yay, somebody gets a bye! Grats, Chilis.
- Smashing Pumpkins finally get to face an opponent that isn't STP or DMB.
- Offspring at #5 is surprising. They usually struggle in round 1 with an 8 or 9. Of course, they get a familiar opponent anyway.
- Nirvana vs Weezer is a battle of the has-beens. I really hope Nirvana doesn't light one up against Weezer, and lights up Weezer instead.
- Rematch: STP vs Korn. Sorry, Korn, sophomore's rule -- if you lose your first time, you get the same opponent again the second time.
- And WHY THE HELL DOES TOOL HAVE AN EIGHT SEED? Tool. The band that destroys everyone. The band that has not lost in three years to anyone other than Metallica. The returning champion. And they get an 8 seed. Unbe-fucking-lievable. That's even worse than Zeppelin's 6 seed.
- Round 1 predictions: All favorites except for Live over Pearl Jam. Round two winners are Tool, Offspring, RHCP, AIC. Division finals are Alice in Chains over Tool.
- Close calls: (1) Pearl Jam vs (16) Live, (5) Offspring vs (12) Soundgarden, (4) Green Day vs winner of Offspring/Soundgarden, maybe Pearl Jam vs Tool in round 2 depending on PJ in round 1
The 00's are typically the most volatile bracket where strange things happen, or at least it seemed that way initially since there were never consistent winners. The first four years produced four different champions. However, all four of those bands emerged out of round 2 in 2010. What we really know about this bracket is that it's a five-horse race and absolutely nobody else matters at all. (No, really. Look at the win-loss records. Just about the only band to ever beat any of these five outside of each other is Evanescence, who isn't even around any more.) Curiously enough, the bracket is set so four of these five bands are in the top half to slug it out, while Linkin Park gets a free pass to the quarterfinals. I have absolutely no idea who will emerge out of the Foos, Godsmack, Disturbed and Breaking Benjamin...but Disturbed is the only one that hasn't won the division yet and is the weakest of the lot.
- Foo Fighters 1 and Linkin Park 2...first predictable tournament for top 2 seeds. And typical 15/16 competitiors, too.
- Shinedown catches #3, wow. Still not a decisive favorite against Incubus though, IMHO, but at 8 PM they probably get it done. Regardless, whoever wins this one will beat the winner of Papa Roach / Seether. You can bet on that.
- And Papa Roach catches #6. Double wow. First time they finally get in, and they leapfrog at least 10 bands to do it. I guess Kick in the Teeth really is that big. Still, this might be Seether's chance to finally win a round rather than PR's.
- Kings of Leon is getting a bye. The Killers are turbo-fodder. They make winners out of fodder opponents like 3DD and Coldplay, so they ain't winning against KoL. This will be the single most obvious choice in round 1 after Creed losing.
- Cage makes a surprising appearance at #9, and BB gets only an 8?
- Round 1 predictions: All favorites except Kings of Leon and Seether. Round two winners are Foos, Godsmack, Shinedown, and Linkin Park. Division finals are Linkin Park over Godsmack. I also predict that this is the bracket I am most likely to be wrong, even though the 80's has a lot of hit-or-miss matches.
- Close calls: (6) Papa Roach vs (11) Seether, everything on the upper-half of the bracket past round 1 between Foo Fighters, Breaking Ben, Godsmack, and Disturbed.
Also, my final observation is that this year has the very real possibility of giving us our first repeat winner. Past champions have included Floyd, Zeppelin, Metallica and Tool. (And, curiously, Breaking Benjamin.) There aren't too many bands in the mix that we can reasonably expect to challenge those titans if they should break through to the final four. Even if, say, Hendrix triumphs over Floyd to win the 70's, he'd still have to win twice against quality opponents from the 90's and (probably) 80's in back-to-back hours. You can make the same argument for anyone else that looks like one miracle win could break them free, like Rush or Alice in Chains. Who has the chops to beat the titans of rock? I suppose there's always *snort* THE ROLLING STONES! *rolls over laughing* In seriousness, the only band I can see going all the way that hasn't before is Linkin Park. I know Foo Fighters fans will be hurt by that, and maybe the few delirious Pearl Jam devotees that still think PJ has the strength to win, but I just don't see it coming from anyone else. I'm really just hoping for some good upsets in this one. Anything could happen, and anything will, but I think the ultimate winner will still be a familiar face.