2020 Puzzle 1: “New Order” Solution

The January MMMM challenged solvers to find a band that would complete this puzzle’s theme. The grid contains five obvious three-word theme entries. The words in these entries start with different permutations of the same three letters, as follows:

LONG-EARED OWL (OK, technically these are two words with a hyphen),

There are only six possible ways to arrange three letters, and the only missing permutation is E-L-O, pointing to the Electric Light Orchestra, this month’s meta answer. Of course I accepted ELO as well.


Meta Song:

Always fun when there are choices. We went with “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.”  Enjoy!


Selected Solver Comments:

NaluGirl   My first one of yours, looking forward to this year!   Welcome!

Team MK   Happy New Year! Looking forward to this year’s puzzles!   Me too!

Darrell   I give this puzzle five stars, mostly because ELO is one of my favorite bands. Jeff Lynne is a god.

Zoltar   Ooooh, now you’re getting all combinatorial on us! Permutations and combinations and partitions, oh my!

Chris Popp   I enjoyed seeing Iris and One, which both figured in puzzles from 2013, my first year of solving these.   I always try to include great songs in the grid when possible.

Darryl Nester   Did I miss the Mega Meta clue? I did not see “***” anywhere.   There are no (***) clues related to the mega-meta this year (but there is a mega-meta!).


Alternative Music Clues:

mmurphy suggests cluing OREO as [Subject of Weird Al’s “The White Stuff”].

Evan suggests cluing FLAIR as [Wrestling legend Ric who used “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss as his entrance music].

Spelvin suggests cluing OSO as [Creature on the cover of Soul Coughing’s third album].   The album is called “El Oso,” and features a smiling bear on the cover.

DIS suggests cluing SUEZ as [“Trouble in the ___” (lyric from Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”)].



Lots of them this month!

Matthew G.   Olé!

Fitziot   Ah, a Lovely Opening Entanglement for 2020.

Mlessie   (a) Discovery! Out of The Blue! (solved it in) A New World Record! (won’t have to) Face The Music! this month.

Andy   This was as fun as Eating Lotsa Oreos!

Mehitabel   The Meta, it’s a terrible thing to lose.

Steve Blais   I would say this puzzle didn’t bring me down, but that would be too obvious.   Indeed – many others said something similar.

BrainBoggler   Thanks again in advance for another year of MMMM — Eagerly Looking Onward!

Laurabrarian   Oh, what a strange mmmmagic solving the MMMM every month…

Redhead64   Well, *that* answer came “Out of the Blue “!

Jesse Lansner   A nice Easy Lead Off puzzle


A total of 470 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month, a new record! The average rating for the puzzle was 4.09 stars out of 5, and the average difficulty rating was 2.06. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Donald Engleman from Cincinnati. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!