The August MMMM asked solvers to find a “2×2” band. Huh? Three entries were clued “dimensionally”: CREED [“4×4” band], TALKING HEADS [“3×3” band], and FRANK SINATRA [“3×3” singer]. The key to solving the meta was figuring out that the dimensions represent [# of words in a song title x letters in each word], as follows:
TALKING HEADS: AND / SHE / WAS
CREED: WITH / ARMS / WIDE / OPEN
FRANK SINATRA: ALL / THE / WAY
Each of the song title words appear in the grid in symmetrical fashion, and all are clued as the first word of a Fill in the Blank (FITB). For example, the clue for WAS is [“___ Dog a Doughnut?” (Cat Stevens tune)].
Once you figure this out, you need to find a band with a song consisting of two two-letter words that appear in the grid. Huh? Crosswords don’t contain two-letter words, which means there must be another trick. The clue for GENRE helps, narrowing down the search to a rock band. This still leaves a lot of choices, some of which are listed below. The only one that appears in the grid symmetrically is the crosswordese-y “Do Ya,” the 1976 song by ELO. As a confirmation, ELO also appears in RELOS, the entry symmetrical to GENRE (it also coincidentally appears as part of RELOAD). Early solvers Francis Heaney and Qatsi point out that the song “Do Ya” was originally recorded by The Move, an early incarnation of ELO. Although not the intended answer, it’s just as good (plus RELOS could easily be construed as hinting at The Move). I accepted either The Move or ELO (or Electric Light Orchestra) for full credit.
Before this puzzle was published, Jangler managed to crack the mega-meta, the first solver this year to get it. Congratulations!
NOTE: If you’re trying to solve the mega-meta, you know that clues marked (***) have something to do with it. I carelessly and unnecessarily used an FITB clue with the same structure as the 10 song title words for HOTS [“___ On for Nowhere” (Led Zeppelin song) (***)], which led at least one meta solver astray. Sorry about that! In order not to create more confusion for mega-meta solvers, I will reveal the following: The clues for the (***) entries don’t matter – only the entries do.
Selected User Comments:
Heavy_B and Steve Blais (both of whom solved the meta correctly) point out that “Do Ya” is also a song by many other bands, including Barney Bentall and the Legendary Hearts, McFly, and Jump5.
Zersky I JUST listened to “And She Was”–my favorite Talking Heads tune–on the way to work this morning!
Mlessie Love it when the aha moment hits you after staring at it a long time.
Math Teacher Dave I loved the discovery of what the dimensions meant, and I’m impressed at how you got them all to fit symmetrically (and with consistent cluing!), just didn’t feel a strong aha moment at the very end. Different strokes!
Abide A real 2×2 band would be OK Go. Indeed!
m5rammy “Ta Da” was appropriately positioned to be the answer. That would have been cool (if it were Rock). Close!
kaymook I’m not sure if this is right, but that “Do Ya” seems to be a ‘Discovery’ waiting to happen. I guess I’ll have to Face the Music if I’m wrong.
Paul Coulter I’d say my brain was lost somewhere in the Fifth Dimension for this one.
jps “Oh, No” I almost submitted The Commodores. Saved by the beautiful symmetry.
Clues That Could Have Been Musical:
fheaney, Flinty Steve, and panonica suggest cluing LOTHAR using the band Lothar and the Hand People, a group named after a theremin and reviewed in Rolling Stone as “electronic country, a kind of good-time music played by mad dwarfs.”
Evan suggests cluing UTAH as [Jewel’s birth state] and SEGAL as [“Just Shoot Me!” actor George who’s an accomplished banjo player].
Other “2×2” rock bands:
Taken by Cars (“Uh Oh”)
Asian Kung-Fu Generation (“Re:Re:”)
Atlas Genius (“As If”)
Led Zeppelin (“La La”)
Nirvana (“Oh Me”)
Van Halen (“As Is”)
Chicago (“25 or 6 to 4”) (if you just count the words)
Westlife (“No No”)
Kaveret (“Yo Ya”)
The Doors (“Do It”)
The Commodores (“Oh No”) (more R&B than rock)
Solvers found this puzzle to be the second-hardest of the year, rating it an average of 3.58 on a difficulty scale of 1 to 5. The average rating was 3.98 stars out of 5, fourth-highest this year. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Chris Popp from Maplewood, NJ. Since Chris has already won a mug, he’s going to pick an entry for a future MMMM puzzle. Thanks as always to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle and/or leave a comment.
Thanks for playing, and see you in September!