The round of 32 in Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Country Artist Tournament is over! It was interesting to watch play out to say the least. So how did it play out…
For the most part it played out pretty predictably in the first round of voting. Most of the favorites won their match-ups pretty easily, just like the college basketball tournament. The biggest blowout took place in the We’re A Group & We Suck Region, as Florida Georgia Line crushed The Cadillac Three by a 93% to 7% margin. All of the top seeds won fairly comfortably, although I’m surprised Steven Tyler and Michael Ray were able to pull over 25% of the vote against Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett respectively.
Of course not every match-up was like this. There were two upsets that took place in the first round. The first one I didn’t see coming. In the Pop Artists Region #25 Chris Lane upset #6 Kelsea Ballerini, with Lane pulling just ahead of Ballerini with 53.25% of the vote to her 46.75% of the vote. Only 15 votes was the difference! But shockingly this was not the closest. That honor goes to the match-up of #15 Blake Shelton against #18 Justin Moore. It began with Blake crushing Moore early in the voting by a 70-30 margin. Then the Shelton super fans found out about our little tournament. They shared it and voted like crazy for Moore to give Moore a 10% lead at one point. But then Miranda Lambert fans started voting back against Blake fans (I know because of my mentions on Twitter). From there on it was an absolute dead heat as the lead changed hands multiple times yesterday afternoon and evening. Before I went to sleep there was only a one vote difference! I thought I would have to break a tie, but Shelton fans made one last push and Moore came out on top with 51.59% of the vote to pull the upset. Shelton pulled in 48.41% of the vote. The difference? Only 11 votes!
So now we move on to the Sour 16! We start off in the Pop Artists Region as top seed of the entire tournament Sam Hunt will take on #16 RaeLynn, who easily dispatched of Hunter Hayes in round one. Below #9 Kane Brown, who defeated Danielle Bradbery in the round of 32, will face the Cinderella of the tournament, #25 Chris Lane. The winners of these match-ups will face each other in the Egregious 8 to determine the winner of the Pop Artists Region. It’ll be interesting to see if Chris Lane can pull off another upset and if RaeLynn, who has never received above a 0 grade on this blog, can knock off top seed Sam Hunt.
In the We’re A Group & We Suck Region, #4 Florida Georgia Line will square off with #13 LoCash, who dispatched of Lady Antebellum quite easily in the first round. In the other Sour 16 match-up in the region, #12 Dan + Shay, who defeated the older versions of themselves in round one, will face #5 Old Dominion. From the start it looked pretty obvious that Florida Georgia Line and Old Dominion were on a collision course to face each other in the region final and it looks to still be the case. Between LoCash and Dan + Shay, I think LoCash has the best chance to pull of an upset. It’s a long shot, but I can see an upset scenario.
Moving onto the Good ‘Ol Bros Region, #2 Thomas Rhett will face off with #18 Justin Moore. The winner of this will meet the winner of what I predict will an absolute bloodbath of a match-up. #10 Chase Rice, who crushed #23 Tyler Farr, will meet #7 Brantley Gilbert, who easily beat #26 Easton Corbin. I think Rice versus Gilbert will be absolutely crazy, as both artists have their fair number of detractors and have made lots of bad music. Just like Shelton versus Moore, I could see super fan turnout being a possible determining factor. Either way I expect it be quite close.
Finally in the Georgia Region, #3 Luke Bryan will take on #14 Dustin Lynch, who beat #19 Kenny Chesney in the first round. I expect Bryan to win this easily, but below we have another thriller set up. #11 Jason Aldean, who took down #22 Billy Currington with ease, will face #6 Cole Swindell, who took out Earl Dibbles Jr.’s alter ego. Do I have to spell this one out? It’s Swindell versus Aldean! The purveyor of country rap against the former Luke Bryan merchandise peddler. The man who helped make Brantley Gilbert a thing faces the man who does this:
I can’t wait to see how the Sour 16 match-ups play out! Thank you everyone who voted in the first round and hope you all continue to stick around in the subsequent rounds. It’s starting to get really good! The polls will open on Monday at 1 PM ET. May the worst win!