2018 Puzzle 5: “Bandleaders” Solution

The May MMMM, “Bandleaders,” challenged solvers to find a band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The central entry, FALSE STARTS, clued as [Track infractions, and what you need to locate seven times to solve this puzzle’s meta], provides a big hint.

The puzzle contains seven words that can be divided into a single letter and a reasonably well-known one-word band name, as follows:


The first letters of these entries, in order, spell out SCREAM. Applying the same trick the seventh time yields CREAM, a trio inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and this month’s meta answer.

This month’s puzzle contains a few potential traps: The band ACE had a huge hit with “How Long,” but they’re not that well known. There were some entries that followed the pattern with even lesser-known bands ({T}ENON and {O}NO, for example), and this caused some solvers to go astray and submit THE CARS (15 people) or the COASTERS (6 people). There was also an accidental red herring featuring a music genre I never heard of – screamo, which caused some people to scour lists of screaming emo bands!


Meta song:

I was in New Orleans last week getting ready for my band’s Jazzfest show and we took a break to learn this Cream classic.  This video features Melissa Soltero and John Whoolilurie.  Hope you like it!

Selected Solver Comments:

Spelvin   I started looking through the Hall of Fame thinking, “People can probably just short-circuit this by looking for seven-letter bands on this list.” How wrong I was!

Qatsi   “How Long” do you think it took people to find the sixth theme entry in the grid?

ab   Oh! So that’s Ace. Geez, not sure who i thought did that song, but I’ll remember that now.

jagoandlitefoot   This was one of those metas where I just couldn’t crack it no matter what I tried… then I left it for a day, came back, and saw it instantly.

Golem   Came SUPER close to submitting The Coasters. Instead of (M)ACE, I had found (O)NO and (T)ENON, for SCORE TA, which made no sense until I realized it was an anagram of COASTER! So “The Coasters” seemed like it was probably the answer… but I thought the random anagramming (and leaving off the THE and final S) felt wrong, so I kept looking. Glad I did!   Great example of how to keep going on a meta until you get an answer that really clicks.

fheaney points out that SAY YES and {R}YES cross, technically a duplication.   Guilty as charged!


Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

DIS suggests cluing AUGUSTA as [“Just no place to be,” according to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, from “An American Dream”].

Evan suggests cluing SAY YES as [Affirmative-sounding Elliott Smith song featured in the “Good Will Hunting” soundtrack].

Steve Blais suggests cluing CRUSH as [“Orange ___” (REM hit)].

chnest suggests cluing KNAVE as [“Crest of a ___” (Jethro Tull album)].



Tyrpmom   I did scream a couple of times.

Laurabrarian   “I went down to the crosswords….”

Diana   In the AHA moment, I SCREAMed out CREAM.


A total of 168 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.18 stars out of 5 (highest of the year), and the average difficulty rating was 3.49 (second-highest of the year). This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Steve Hendrix of West Milford, NJ. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.


One more thing:

We recorded last month’s answer, “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” with better audio and a violin player. This video features Morrie Lauden on bass, David Silliman on drums, and Katie Jacoby on violin. You can see it here:

Thanks for playing and see you in a month!