2022 Puzzle 1: “Just a Number” Solution

The first MMMM of 2022 challenged solvers to find a famous musician. As shown in the adjacent graphic, the puzzle has four long theme entries that contain a number:

There’s a famous musician who uses her age at the time of starting an album as the album’s title, something many crossword solvers are familiar with. If you weren’t, but you googled something like “19 21 25 30,” you would have found the artist in question, Adele, the 15-time Grammy winner and this month’s meta answer.

Pretty straightforward for a first-month meta, no? Well, it turns out that there are two alternate answers I’ve accepted!


First, Joe Ross wrote in, surprised that “Count Basie” wasn’t accepted. I thought, “Huh?” Joe sent in the next graphic showing that the squares numbered 19, 21, 25, and 30, and 1 (since BALL ONE is also in the grid), contain the letters B-A-S-I-E, so in a way you’re counting “Basie.” Wow – that was completely unintended and an amazing coincidence!

And then, several solvers indicated that you could read 1-Across ADD ME as a meta instruction. When you add the numbers from the four theme entries you get 95. Coupled with the puzzle’s title, “Just a Number,” it could be seen as a nod to someone who’s 95 years old. Tony Bennett turned 95 last year, and I’ve accepted that as a valid answer as well.

Neither of these alternative answers is as straightforward as the intended answer, but I’ve accepted both Count Basie (23 solvers) and Tony Bennett (13 solvers) this month. Having one acceptable alternate answer path is really rare for the MMMM, and this is the first time there have ever been two!





Meta Song:

Adele covered this Dylan tune on “19.” It was the first song I ever played with Missy.


Selected Solver Comments:

Pancho   Love the title! Nice, easy puzzle to start what I’m sure will be another great year.

bettyromani   Finally got a meta!

mattyx   As noted by others, either needed to know Adele albums OR (as I did) use Mr. G!   Meaning Google.

rachaar   Any grid that manages to work in both Anais Nin and Bhad Bhabie is a work of art in my opinion.   (taking a bow)

oldjudge   There is a massive red herring. There are 5 numbers in the grid. They map to squares with the letters BASIE (not in order). With the theme of numbers COUNT fits and leads to COUNT BASIE.   Yup – pretty crazy coincidence!

JessShul   Hey, fun! This was my first one of yours.   Welcome!


Alternative Music Clues:

xepia suggests cluing ECHT as [Three-hit band from Flensburg], at least for German solvers.

Chris Sorry suggests an alternate clue for ANAIS: [“Hadestown” composer Mitchell].  I’ve heard great things about that musical!

Evan suggests cluing FAN as [Belieber, Swiftie, or a member of the Beyhive, e.g.]. 

jagoandlitefoot suggests cluing EPIC as [Acclaimed 2010 album by Sharon Van Etten] and WARSAW as the [Original name of the band Joy Division].



Rocklouder2424   “Hello” MMMM 2022! “Rumour Has It” that the past couple years have felt like we’ve been “Rolling In The Deep”. I think I speak for all of us when I say, thanks for going “Easy on Me” with this January puzzle. Cheers and Happy New Year!

Strybner   In order to solve this one, all I needed to do was look at what brand of laptop I was using!   A Dell?

Allan Patterson   Thanks to John Travolta, I always confuse her with Idina Menzel. Not.

Nikbar   Set fire to my brain with this one.

cml4sinatra   Hello, thanks for going Easy On Me with the first puzzle of the year. It was definitely Right As Rain, probably the only one I’ll get right before you go Turning Tables on us. I’ll Be Waiting for the next eleven puzzles of the year, All I Ask is that you save the Best For Last.


A total of 539 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.06 stars out of 5, and the average difficulty rating was 2.14. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Derek Allen from Mishawaka, IN. 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!