Every year, basketball fans fill out a March Madness bracket in an attempt to predict the future and win an insurmountable amount of money. Around this time of year, I usually look at my sports-obsessed friends who have the basketball knowledge to fill out those cool-looking, debate-starting brackets and think to myself, “Darn, I wish I cared or knew enough about basketball to fill out one of those.” Then, last year came the Kanye bracket; now my bracket-filling cravings are satisfied with so many non-sports related brackets to choose from.
For whatever reason, the March Madness bracket has started to unofficially spread into music, movies and even fast food. Last year, 610 Sports Radio co-host of “The Drive” Carrington Harrison created a Kanye bracket that started off the whole trend where one artist’s songs are pinned against each other to see which one reigns supreme. When it comes to traditional March Madness, the winners and losers are clear: Your picks either win or lose. But in the case of musical brackets, picks are completely up for discussion, making it the perfect vessel to debate a band’s music.
The Kanye bracket seemed to have gained the most popularity in the last year, but it wasn’t the only one created. Twitter user Shaan Chanchani created another musical bracket up for discussion, which was that of non-stereotypical boy band Brockhampton. Because the group had over 70 songs, the bracket created a visual form for people to talk about the band’s top “bops” in an easy-to-follow format.
Not only is there the enjoyment of filling it out yourself and listening to all the songs over again to refresh your memory, but also seeing where your picks compare to your friends', with critics also adding to the fun. For example, popular online music critic Anthony Fantano, known for his YouTube channel “theneedledrop,” discussed his picks for the Brockhampton bracket on his secondary YouTube channel. With over 1,200 comments and 209,000 views, viewers are more than likely intrigued to see where their picks line up with someone like Fantano. As one might expect, the comment section of the video is filled with testaments such as “the disrespect to Gummy, Rental and Johnny” and “Gold vs junky is not a choice anyone wants to make.”
Fans of any group love to talk about “bests” and “worsts.” Brackets centering around Marvel and Pixar create a means for fans to reminisce about their favorite movies and their least favorites. The bracket format just gives them a way to talk about it in a way that used to be exclusively for sports, creating a new spin on an old practice.
Sadly, brackets as a form of engagement seemed to see its peak just as it was getting started. I hoped to see another bracket from Chanchani this year, but, alas, we are stuck with the same ones as last year. Also, I would think that non-sports related brackets would be a useful engagement tool for companies to connect with their customers. Companies like McDonald’s or IHOP could have pulled the “we are totally in the know of trends” card and made a bracket with their menu items. Hopefully, we will see a resurgence of these non-sports brackets, which are a great way to figure out your favorite Pixar movie, Marvel movie or fast food restaurant and debate on it with others.
As for now, I’ll keep defending my last year’s Kanye and Pixar picks that have been dubbed “trash” by almost everyone who has seen it. March Madness is a time for debating and defending your picks, and I’m ready to throw down the gauntlet for my picks.
Jackie DeFreitas is a UF journalism junior. Her column appears on Wednesdays.