Influenced by this month's NCAA March Madness Tournament, our hard-working staff quickly came up with a list of nearly 100 of the biggest douche-rockers in modern mainstream music (including some we like in spite of their tendencies: Thom Yorke, who didn't make the final cut; Ryan Adams, who did). The list was cut to 64 "teams" — Canada's Nickelback inspired the "North" in "North American Douche Tournament" — that were then ranked in order of douchiness. In order to be certifiably douchey, the band or artist in question had to be relevant in today's musicsphere. For example, Scott Stapp is a legendary douchebag, but his jersey has been retired to the rafters for years.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. If Axl Rose is the Duke University of douche rock — once a mighty institution now, sunk into a years-long crisis of confidence — then who is the scrappy Gonzaga? Who, if anyone, can stop the Fall Out Boy juggernaut? And whom did we leave out?
Work out your matches here and vote at www.orlandoweekly.com. We'll publish the winners in these pages. Welcome to the dance.
First-round voting ends March 26 at 5 p.m. We'll post the winners for the round March 27, when voting opens for round two. On April 2, the process repeats with winners posted April 3. Round three closes April 9, with winners posted April 10. Voting on the championship match concludes April 16, and the winner will be posted April 17.
No. 1 Nickelback vs. No. 16 Metro Station: Young hipsters Metro Station douched their way into this tournament with a surprise victory over Gwen Stefani in this year's wild-card match. How? Two lead singers, equally terrible. Stefani is no slouch ("This shit is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S!"), but she's got nothing on the Canadian gods of Pro Tools-perfected shit rock, Nickelback.
No. 2. Axl Rose vs. No. 15. Hoobastank: Even when Guns N' Roses ruled, Axl Rose was a douche. Now that he's bastardized that awesome band's good name with Chinese Democracy, Rose has moved into almost unassailable territory. Can the Cali rockers with rock's most douche-tastic name knock off the dude who teased us for two decades before delivering an awful record?
No. 3. Panic! at the Disco vs. No. 14 Weezer: A lead singer vowing celibacy? Rich rock stars playing the working-stiff shtick ("Beverly Hills," "Pork and Beans")? Our experts, however, find it highly unlikely that Weezer can bring down up-and-comers Panic! at the Disco, an act that has perfected the art of meaningless-but-make-the-kids-think-they're-smart song titles ("I Write Sins Not Tragedies.") P!atD is the big favorite here.
No. 4. Metallica vs. No. 13 The Game: The legends of metal who became the forebears of a decade of litigious music-biz dumbfoolery should flick off any diva rapper like a flea, but don't underestimate the enormity of The Game's Pac-worshipping a-hole-dom.
No. 5. Maroon 5 vs. No. 12. Zack de la Rocha: Doesn't everything about this band — and lead singer Adam Levine — scream "unmitigated L.A. douche"? We think so. But if anyone can pull off the upset, it's Zack de la Rocha, who inspired a generation of teenagers with vague notions of socialism and Che T-shirts in Rage Against the Machine, and who has taken a more recent turn towards the douche with the laughably god-awful One Day as a Lion.
No. 6 Incubus vs. No. 11 Linkin Park: Taste vs. force: Both teams are equally adept at shit songs, but the X-factor will be whether Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd's shirtlessness can overpower the challenger's DJ scratcher.
No. 7 Jack Johnson vs. No. 10 Katy Perry: Johnson's balding surfer vag-folk easily contains the faux-slut "I Kissed a Girl" vamp.
No. 8 30 Seconds to Mars vs. No. 9 Sublime: One singer's dead, the other needs to join him. Mars singer Jared Leto is the LeBron James of douche-rock; he can wear the No. 23 jersey (eyeliner) all he wants, but until he wins it all — in this case, charts a song — he'll never be king. Sublime is ranked not so much for their own music as the frat-boy knockoff bands they spawned.
No. 1 My Chemical Romance vs. No. 16 Interpol: Emo-goth ponces MCR claim they started the band in response to 9/11. Interpol was one of the first "blog bands," propelled by the kind of Internet hype that inevitably collapses on itself. This match is ripe for a shocker.
No. 2. Ryan Adams vs. No. 15 Staind: If Adams is not on a pill bender or picking fights with some lame-ass who cracked a "Bryan Adams" joke, he's middling through a bunch of songs nobody's ever heard because he can. Can he hold off the reigning champs of I-hate-my-father douche metal?
No. 3 John Mayer vs. No. 14 Daughtry: Mayer has his defenders; they point to his admirable blues-slinging skills and his admittedly endearing ability to poke fun at himself, but listen to "Your Body Is a Wonderland" and respect the douche factor. He should handle flash-in-the-pan Daughtry easily.
No. 4 Lenny Kravitz vs. No. 13 Jason Mraz: Kravitz's neo-hippie, give-peace-a-chance schlock is bad enough. But couple it with lyrics ripped from Dr. Seuss — "I wish that I could fly/Into the sky/So very high/Just like a dragonfly" — and you've got a guy who could go far in this tourney. Wordsmith folker Jason Mraz has been pretty harmless so far.
No. 5 Vampire Weekend vs. No. 12 Three Days Grace: Vampire Weekend are the new "it" kids. At least they're interesting — which is way more than we'll ever say of their opponents in this round.
No. 6 P. Diddy vs. No. 11 Gym Class Heroes: Marketing-wise, P. Diddy may be a genius; as long as he's doing reality shows on VH1, he's a douche. Gym Class Heroes, on the other hand, has the singer from Fall Out Boy singing with them and producing parts of their record. That's synergistic douche.
No. 7 Bruce Springsteen vs. No. 10 Santigold: The Boss wouldn't even be in this tournament but for his hamming it up for the Prez at Obamafest and crotch-sliding onto America's forehead at the Super Bowl. Santigold, on the other hand, stole M.I.A.'s act and openly despises her fans, so she's earned it.
No. 8 MF Doom vs. No. 9 MGMT: As innovative as MF Doom, aka Zev Love X, aka Viktor Vaughn, can be, he's never photographed without a mask, making it that much easier to send in imposters to play his live shows when he's too fucked up to do it himself. MGMT is just bothersome.
No. 1 Fall Out Boy vs. No. 16 Disturbed: It will be tough for anyone to match FOB's epic level of ass-hattery, which is painfully evident in the gibberish-as-pseudo-intelligence song "This Ain't a Scene It's an Arms Race," or in the fact that their bass player married Ashlee Simpson, had a child and named it Bronx Mowgli. Disturbed's "ooh-wa-ah-ah-ah" song of a few years back was enough to earn them a much higher ranking than this, but their ranking is tempered a bit by the Bush-era-adapted cover of Genesis' "Land of Confusion." Overtaking FOB would be the upset of the year.
No. 2 3 Doors Down vs. No. 15 Hawthorne Heights: 3 Doors Down earned their high ranking entirely thanks to the war propaganda song "Citizen Soldier," a despicable piece of "support the troops" prattle that would have made Dick Cheney proud. Can they hold off insurgent screamo douche-rockers Hawthorne Heights?
No. 3 Kanye West vs. No. 14 Wilco: Kanye maintains his very own chronicle of awfulness at KanyeUniverseCity.com. Wilco make it in based on their inability to accept anything resembling a "label" or "classification." Just play your "music" and shut up about it, fellas.
No. 4 Kid Rock vs. No. 13 Von Bondies: Just when you think Kid Rock's gone for good, he upchucks a hit Confederate-pride summer jam. Von Bondies leader Jason Stollsteimer got beat up by Jack White whilst playing shitty music, which is surprisingly tough to do.
No. 5 Billy Corgan vs. No. 12 Common: There was a time when the Smashing Pumpkins were among the best bands on the planet -- then Billy Corgan's ego swallowed them whole. But the bald-headed legend-in-his-own-mind may struggle to put down equally bald Common, who tries to couch blatant homophobia and misogyny in the guise of socially conscious rap. A contest to watch closely.
No. 6 The Fray vs. No. 11 Plain White T's: Upset special! The Fray may have landed its superior ranking with a string of crybaby piano hits, but relative newcomers Plain White T's are making a late break for the title.
No. 7 Conor Oberst vs. No. 10 Jamie Foxx: Child star Oberst never lived up to his "next Dylan" tag and now his pouty, freshman-philosophy-major ramblings just sound stunted. Look out for a red-hot Jamie Foxx, whose post-Oscar tour has led him right into the trap of self-caricature.
No. 8 Jack White vs. No. 9 Atmosphere: Once a McCartney-level lyricist and the public face of garage revivalism, White now pens Bond songs. Atmosphere, meanwhile, was given a second chance at mainstream crossover for their overripe emo hip-hop and used it to be dicks.
No. 1 Limp Bizkit (defending champions) vs. No. 16 Matchbox 20: A straight-up Florida smackdown, but it's really not much of a contest. Neither band has made much noise of late, but good God, Fred Durst is almost too douchey to comprehend. The once local Matchbox 20 boys are kinda douchey, but in a less-offensive way.
No. 2 Michael Stipe vs. No. 15 Lil' Jon: As if "Shiny Happy People" wasn't bad enough, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe once told the New York Times that Courtney Love is "in the top three smartest people I've ever met." He also refused to come out publicly until he realized that it could actually help other gay people feel good about themselves. Stipe faces off against fellow Georgian Lil' Jon, whose douche factor was always part of his appeal until last year, when he introduced his new beverage, Crunk Juice.
No. 3 Shinedown vs. No. 14 My Morning Jacket: Merciful Zeus is Shinedown awful. Not only are they nothing but low-fat Creed leftovers, but it also seems that they're exactly what America is looking for right now. MMJ squeaks in solely on the basis of "Highly Suspicious."
No. 4 Miley Cyrus vs. No. 13 DJ Khaled: A major factor in deciding who goes on this list: Who is both relevant and shitty enough to actually pose a risk to the well-being of human ears? In that regard, Disney tool Cyrus is the world's most dangerous rock star. Khaled's DJ Clue impersonation is already yesterday's news, but he put us through a year of listening to how awesome Miami is, and nobody appreciates that.
No. 5 Dashboard Confessional vs. No. 12 Saliva: Boca Raton's Dashboard Confessional are a few years past their teeny-weenie emo peak now, but never underestimate their appeal to behind-the-curve corporations like AOL and Sony. Saliva's frontman, Josey Scott, is infuriatingly contradictory. His constipated-redneck delivery and carefully manscaped facial hair is infuriatingly douchey, but he's also worked with Jay-Z and Three 6 Mafia and had a cameo in Hustle and Flow, which is strangely dope.
No. 6 Toby Keith vs. No. 11 Akon: Keith is a primo tight-jeaned jag, but Stephen Colbert apparently likes him so he may not garner the outrage he deserves. Keep an eye on Akon, a vocoder singer who likes to throw his fans off the stage and onto women in his audience, concussing all who are dumb enough to buy into his schtick.
No. 7 Lil' Wayne vs. No. 10 Big & Rich: We can't hate on Weezy's hard-earned dominance last year, but we're all on board to dis his latest douche move: an upcoming guitar-rock album. He competes with Big & Rich, a country outfit that thinks it can get away with having a badly rapping black cowboy as a member.
No. 8 Paramore vs. No. 9 Hinder: Locally managed Paramore and its brand-name singer, admitted Miley Cyrus BFF Hayley Williams, aren't just douche-rock; they're Christian douche-rock, which edges them in the rankings past Nickelback-lite Oklahomans Hinder, whose big hit "Lips of An Angel" was a love ballad in which the singer actually tells his ex that he wishes his current girlfriend were her.