Like the Coachella music festival, Rock in Rio takes place over two weekends. Unlike Coachella, Rock in Rio’s weekends are divided into opposing teams: the “Rock Weekend” (May 8-9) and the “Pop Weekend” (May 15-16). So how do you choose a weekend? For your decision-making convenience, we’ve created an overly elaborate and mathematically dubious system of analysis by comparing the musicians who play at the same time on the same stage but on opposite weekends. Simply add up the winner of each “match,” and the team with the most points indicates which weekend is superior. Or play along by picking your own winners and adding up the points yourself. Individual results may vary.
No Doubt vs. Taylor Swift. Two generations of badass blondes duke it out with the opening night’s headlining spot. It’s a choice between Gwen Stefani’s ska-turned-pop and Taylor Swift’s country-turned-pop. Wish there was a chance to see them perform together. Winner: Tie.
Metallica vs. Bruno Mars. This is as much a generational choice as a stylistic one. Metallica formed in 1981; Mars was born in 1985. Both are Grammy winners, both have sold many millions of records and both have albums coming out soon. But Mars holds the trump card because he was once a child Elvis impersonator with a cameo in 1992’s Honeymoon in Vegas. Winner: Pop.
Maná vs. Ed Sheeran. They’re huge in Latin America, but if you don’t speak Spanish, you may never have heard of Maná. So the winner depends on your answer to this question: Do you prefer soft rock from Mexico with a side of reggae or soft pop from England with a side of beat box? If you’re reading this (in English), then the answer is probably the latter. Winner: Pop.
Linkin Park vs. Sam Smith. If you feel terrible inside and you need to get the emotion out, do you scream it out or cry it out? If you want to create a new sound, do you combine metal with rap or soul with a classic Tom Petty song? Despite our misgivings about a genre of music called “nu metal,” Linkin Park wins for its proactive angst and lack of “coincidental” song similarities. Winner: Rock.
Foster the People vs. Jessie J. Every dedicated Las Vegas music fan has probably seen Foster the People play the Cosmopolitan at least once in the last few years, including us. This band holds a special place in our hearts. On the other hand, there’s the catchy, danceable sounds of Jessie J, the Brit who wrote “Party in the USA” for Miley Cyrus. Winner: Pop.
Deftones vs. John Legend. It’s hard to think of two acts that are more different. The music of the Deftones is like a journey into a monstrous fantasy dreamscape. And John Legend’s honey vocals and piano will comfort you upon your return. Legend plays Las Vegas pretty often, so we recommend taking the opportunity to check out the Deftones. Winner: Rock.
Sepultura vs. Joss Stone. The Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura scores a knockout over British soul singer Joss Stone. Why? Because somebody’s gotta represent Brazil in a festival that originated in Rio de Janeiro! Winner: Rock.
Results: The winning weekend is … it’s a tie. It’s kind of lame that the math didn’t add up. So it’s up to us to break the tie: We’re more excited about the Pop Weekend because its performers are approximately a generation younger and more dynamic than the tried-and-true favorites of the Rock Weekend.