Birds chirp, morning chills drift away into mild afternoons, and the bees bumble lazily around their newfound wealth of pollen. Don't let the Spring weather fool you. A storm of coiffure on coiffure crime is coming straight ahead. This is no amateur sweet sixteen, folks.
Intolerable cruelty was suffered under the boots of supposed Saints last weekend, but it pales in comparison with what's in store for some of Redkind's finest today.
Ruffles. Snips. Rips. Twists. Nuclear noogies. All have been known to happen when the tension is as thick as a Sam Allardyce presser and the masses are heard baying for blood.
We can only hope that the secondary blow-dried application of gentle hold for these brave souls came with a voluminous moisturizer and built-in UV protection. They're gonna need it.
The rules remain simple: two teammates go in, one teammate comes out. Lather, rinse, and repeat until only one is left standing. The seeding is biased and myopic, and still fueled by two primary ingredients: chilled adult beverages of choice and the ancient truth that you are what your hair says you are. FIGHT!
Jordan Henderson (1) vs. Danny Ings (16)
A champion is as a champion does. And what His Hendycakes is doing is waltzing into this matchup with an air only the most sanctimonious of lavender mint applications can provide. A sting that soothes. A smile that kills. That hair is a magnificence of carefully constructed carriage not often seen in this world or the next. And assuredly never seen in the reflected visage of his competitor. No you can't see it, peasant, not this early in the competition.
It may seem cruel of us to pit a still-rehabilitating Danny Ings up against the undisputed 2015 champion. And to that we say: not half so cruel as Fowler was when he slapped that poor excuse for a decaying marmot onto Danny's fivehead and bade him make his way in the world.
Hendo wins, and nary a hair out of place.
Emre Can (2) vs. Danny Ward (15)
Oh, aye? Some say that in the beginning there was light. But that's only because Emre Can was gracious enough to move that olive and obsidian toned perfection of his over a bit, and allow the sun's rays to shine on the rest of us a while. He's a good lookin kid, is all we're saying.
Liverpool's backup netminder is not doing so bad for himself these days, either. Matter of fact, his surprise recall after good form on loan in Scotland was not half so surprising as that interestingly full-bodied waviness he can conjure.
Everyone knows goalkeepers need firm command of three things: their area, their reflexes, and an Aveda clearance sale. We don't have to tell you which one Simon Mignolet's been guilty of ignoring, no matter how many times the Migssus tries to help.
But while we look forward to seeing if young Danny can do like his matchday pomade and stick around awhile, there's only one winner here. C'mon guys... it's Emre.
Adam Lallana (3) vs. Nathaniel Clyne (14)
It'll be a cold day in hell when Adam Lallamb-chops loses in the first round of a Follicopalypse. And that's not bias talking, it's our eyeballs talking. Nothing against Nathaniel Clyne, per se, who has been a worthy heir to Liverpool's right flank.
But it's simple, see. Adam Lallicious is the follicular equivalent of a Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a pomegranate merengue chaser. The man has been chiseled by the old gods and the new.
And don't get us wrong, Clyne's been chiseled, too. How else would he have gotten that sheer cliff for a forehead? The Llama moves on. Moves on in style.
Daniel Sturridge (4) vs. Divock Origi (13)
DStudge may be a permacrocked glassman who stays healthy just long enough to coax you into sweet dreams of silverware again, but there's nothing unreliable about the man's hairstyle. They say he's a close friend of Hairspray's original Poster Boy, Raheem Sterling, which has clearly rubbed off on the guy's little accentuating work around that classically chic steeze.
Divock Origi may be blossoming into a legitimate Sturridge replacement on the pitch, but we're here for cold hard truths, and it doesn't get much colder and truer than the fact that Divock is flirting dangerously close to Clyne/Ings territory.
Got some catching up to do with the hairstyle, lad, but maybe if you'd kept on streaking? Studge moves on.
Mamadou Sakho (5) vs. Alberto Moreno (12)
It's taken surprisingly long to get to the first mohawk of the bunch, and shame on us for keeping our Mama waiting so long for his love. Massive feet, intricate 'hawk, killer passing, and totes adorbs fam--there's not much for detractors to get a hold of here. AWKWARDNESS KLAXON.
All the awkwardness in the world from Mama is still a helluva lot more desirable than Alberto Moreno's hair. Half sidepart, half buzzcut, half flaccid chia pet. SideBuzzChia. At least it's frosted kinda cool and gives him fin-rep with the dolphins.
Mama knows best, and he cake walks this one into the next round.
Philippe Coutinho (6) vs. Joe Gomez (11)
Now here's a tasty morsel. Last we checked in with Joe Gomez, he was shredding his ACL while lifting his Hairspray Poster Boy trophy high into the air. This after having impressed so many with early form in a new league, playing in an unfamiliar leftback position for Brendan Rodgers' ultimately ill-fated 2015-16 season.
And last we checked with Philippe Coutinho, he was firing yet another facemelter into the back of the net to celebrate his call up to the Brazilian national team. So, this becomes a horribly close battle. Until we look at the hair that is.
Gomez? High faded flat-top, very en vogue, embracing his generation, and his natural strengths. Much young; such ceiling. Very nice.
Coutinho? High and tigh--WHATHEFUCK!?WHEREARETHECURLS,PHIL??! BRING BACK THE CURLS!!! BRING BACK THE CURLS!!! BRING BACK THE CURLS!!!!
Joe Allen (7) vs. Mystery Science Contender 3000 (10)
Now, one of the surprise packages of the 2015-16 season has been Joe Allen. From his shockingly effective form pushed further up the pitch in Klopp's system, to a complete bombshell of a beard game, to a natural shag that can only be hoped to be contained by a pretty sweet Alice band, to issue 12 of Chicken & Egg magazine. It's been a big year for Wee Joe.
But who is this Mystery Science Contender 3000? Sure, Joe Allen is great, but MSC3K could be anybody. And while we're not at liberty to disclose who exactly this competitor is, suffice it to say that it's Mario Balotelli. What can we say, we're suckers for a mohawk.
Ummpff. Tough call, this. Beards aren't really our thing, and we have always appreciated Balo's commitment to the coiffure cause. But Chicken & Egg, guys, Chicken & Egg.
Wee Joe moves on in a shockingly entertaining first round tie.
Ryan Kent (8) vs. Roberto Firmino (9)
Before Philippe Coutinho decided to turn David de Gea into David Duh Gea with one crisp chip of the ball, Roberto Firmino was our pick of the Liverpool 2015-16 litter. Foot in boot fit for Jürgen Klopp's team, goals and assists coming out of his ears, and a level of footballing IQ that will only become more and more valuable as this team faces stiffer and stiffer competition.
But we have a dirty little secret about the Brazilian object of our affection: dude's got trashy style. Like, Keeping Up With the Firmino's levels of trash, yo. We'll deny it to the grave if you tell him, of course, but c'mon Bobby, the hair! Is it up? Is it down? Does it lay to the left? To the right? What's happening? Get it together, mate.
And, so, weirdly, and without even having to break his sneakily upper echelon hair game out of the box, Ryan Kent advances. DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES??
Round 1 in the bag and the second installment promises more blood, sweat, tears, and--above all-- divine hairstylings. /Scene.