2021 Puzzle 5: “After Three” Solution

This month’s MMMM challenged solvers to find a well-known singer-songwriter. The grid contains no obvious theme entries, but it is notable in one respect – there are only six three-letter words. Could that be important? Turns out it is! This observation, coupled with the puzzle’s title, “After Three,” provides the key insight to solving the meta. Each of the six three-letter words also appears inside another grid entry, as follows:


Taking the letters that occur after the three-letter words gives OLI-VIAN-EW-TON-JO-HN, or Olivia Newton-John, the famous Australian singer-songwriter, and this month’s meta answer.


Meta Song:

The Kindred Souls had a lot of fun learning this one. We might even put it on our next cover record!



Selected Solver Comments:

JustinW   I think that might be one of the best and most satisfying meta solves I can remember in a long time.   Thanks!

damefox   The mechanism dawned on me when I thought to myself “man, you have to really try to get so few 3-letter words in a puzzle…”

thanman2   Hoping you’ll sing ‘Xanadu’, whilst wearing sequins and rollerskates!   Sorry to disappoint.


Alternative Music Clues:

pbfrommn suggests cluing ASH as [“Girl From Mars” band].

Evan suggests cluing SNIPES as [Wesley referenced in the Kendrick Lamar song “Wesley’s Theory”].

andeux suggests cluing DIAS as [Steely Dan guitarist Denny].

Redhead64 suggests cluing ONION as [“Glass” vegetable in the title of a Beatles song].



Bill Sherman   This challenge was more mental than physical.

Laurabrarian   Have you never been MMMMellow? /Have you never tried /To find a meta from inside you?

FunkyPhD   Please Mr Please, If You Love me, Let Me Be There on the leaderboard. That would be Magic.

HiJack   After Three names came together in such a flawlessly executed meta, I’m “Hopelessly Devoted To You.”

Steve Blais   Thanks for reminding me I’m due for a physical.

azmat   This puzzle a-Grease with me.

BethA   I honestly love it!


A total of 236 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.4 stars out of 5, the highest of the year so far, and the average difficulty rating was 3.44, also the highest of the year so far. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is David Squire from Flagstaff, AZ. 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!