2015 Puzzle 6: “Beginnings” Solution


This month’s puzzle challenged solvers to find a pop song from the past five years (and also something missing from the puzzle that would make solving the meta easier). The five theme entries have a seemingly random number in their clues, and each consists of two musicians’ last names next to one another, as follows: CHERRY HILL (42), ROSEBUSH (35), BLACK KEYS (98), LION KING (610), and WHITESMITH (17). But which Cherry? Neneh or Eagle-Eye? Which Smith? Sam, Patti, Bessie, or …? The key was to realize that the numbers 1-10 each appeared exactly once, and function as a key to the appropriate ordering of the first names. This gives you something like the following to puzzle through (not a complete list):

WHITE Barry, Jack, Meg
HILL Faith, Lauryn
ROSE Axl, Lucy
CHERRY Neneh, Eagle-Eye
BUSH Kate, Kristian, Sam
LION Snoop
SMITH Patti, Bessie, Sam
KEYS Alicia
BLACK Clint, Jack
KING Carole, Evelyn (Champagne), Elle


A little trial and error finds a well-known pop song in the first letters of the selected musicians’ first names: BLANK SPACE, the smash hit from Taylor Swift, and this month’s meta answer. Blank space is also something that would have made figuring out the numbering trick a lot easier!

Before getting to user comments, I’d like to give a shout-out (and 24 bonus points each) to the five MMMM subscribers who successfully cracked the mega-meta last month, after only seeing five puzzles. In order of when I received their solutions, congratulations to GwinnsVeepJanglerNPL, fheaney, and bng17. If there are more people that get it before next month (and receive 17 bonus points), I will announce them when the next puzzle comes out.

Some solver comments:

mpstable   My favorite mmmm of 15 so far.

Todd G   This puzzle gave me several AHA moments…first when I figured out the numbers, another when I realized what you wanted me to do with the theme entries (not use the first letter of each word), another when I got the meta answer, and finally when I figured out why the meta answer was something that would have made solving the meta easier.

Jonesy   Maybe it just clicked but this seemed really obvious to me! i’m honored at how few have gotten it so far… worried for july.   

Actually, this puzzle was initially slated for later in the year, but I couldn’t get the one I wanted for June to work. So you can breathe a little easier.

Jim Q   That was brilliant!!! Amazing from a construction standpoint… Finding those symmetrical answers!   

Thank you! (I never get tired of hearing feedback like this.)

DJB   Nice misdirect with the numbers! Took me ages to realise all the digits were unique and they were to be used as an index.

Stribbs   That was fun. I like that there was certainty in 5 of the singer names (and I was wrong on my first guess for all of the other 5) so you had to work through the multiple options.

Brent Holman   This is my 8-year-old daughter’s favorite song.

Bob J   It’s one letter off from a legitimate crossword entry, but I wish STARRBUCK could replace WHITESMITH – Brenda K. instead of Barry and Peter instead of Patti – which would still spell out the song title while paying homage to the misheard “Starbucks lovers” lyric.



Steve Blais   Was this one easier than I made it out to be? Looks like I should just shake it off.

Sheep1234   That was a Mean trick with the numbers (I’m still seeing Red), but the meta was executed with Style.

For those of you not familiar with the Taylor Swift oeuvre, “Shake It Off,” “Mean,” “Style,” and the album “Red” are all part of it.

Most solvers liked this puzzle a lot, giving it an average of 4.03 stars out of 5. There were a few dissenters, who didn’t like the ambiguity in the musicians’ names. Solvers thought the June MMMM was the hardest of the year so far, giving it a difficulty rating of 3.93 out of 5. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Matt Perez-Stable from Cleveland. Thanks as always to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!