2024 Puzzle 1: “Take a Change on Me” Solution

The first MMMM of 2024 challenged solvers to find a famous musician. The slightly larger-than-normal 17×17 grid contains seven theme entries, each clued as a parody of a well-known song title. In each case, the parody and original song differ by one letter, as follows:

[Iggy Pop’s ballad about David and Bathsheba?] LUST FOR WIFE → LUST FOR LIFE
[Bruce Springsteen’s remorseful emo crossover track?] BORN TO RUE → BORN TO RUN
[Elvis Presley’s dating app jingle?] LOVE ME TINDER → LOVE ME TENDER
[Taylor Swift’s ode to songwriter’s block?] OUT OF THE WORDS → OUT OF THE WOODS
[The Beatles’ tune on the robotics team’s pump-up playlist?] CODE TOGETHER → COME TOGETHER
[Ben E. King’s pro-cellist anthem?] STAND BY MA → STAND BY ME
[The Bee Gees’ foray into Soviet propaganda music?] STALIN ALIVE → STAYIN’ ALIVE


The changed letters, in order, are W-E-I-R-D-A-L. From there, it’s pretty easy to find the master parodist and famous musician, Weird Al Yankovic, this month’s meta answer.


Meta Song:

Turns out Weird Al wrote some original songs that aren’t parodies, but still pretty wacky. It was fun to learn this one!


Selected Solver Comments:

mlangschwager   Letter changes are stock-in-trade for crossword puzzle themes. Having the king of song title puns be the answer is so darn on-point that I couldn’t help but smile!

StephieG19   I’m back for my second year. Thanks for putting these together!   Welcome back!

tylersyoung   I spent way too long trying to unscramble the replaced letters and figure out who the “lemony” artist was.

Irelynd   Stay weird!   Oink!

pchow13   My friend just told me about the MMMM and I love it!! looking forward to the next one.   Welcome!

KateMonday   I’m a huge Weird Al fan. Can’t wait to see which song you cover!! (My suggestion would be “One More Minute.”)   Impressive power of suggestion!


Alternative Music Clues:

EasyNow suggests cluing FOUR as [The ___ Seasons (answer to the March 2023 MMMM)].

KLogx2 suggests cluing IPSO FACTO as [Rik Emmett’s second solo album].

DIS suggests cluing GORE as [Lesley who cried].

pbfrommn suggests cluing ADRIANA as [“Pretty Little ___” (1996 Vince Gill hit)].

shirk suggests cluing GO HOME as [“Show Me the Way to ___” (1925 standard)] and OPEL as [1988 Syd Barrett compilation].

Eric H suggests cluing ONION as [“Glass ___” (meta song from “The White Album”].

Evan suggests cluing NED as [Flanders who inspired the heavy metal band Okilly Dokilly].


Groaners: (a small sampling)

Redhead64   Seeing as this is the first puzzle of 2024, I bet one would say that “The Saga Begins”….

Jeneric   I may have Lost on Jeopardy but I Dared to be Stupid one more time, and, Like a Surgeon, I solved your Word Crimes in One More Minute than last year. 😉

Mikey G   If he has a studio in his house, then parody begins at home!

sharkicicles   I got this one pretty quickly, but then again I’m white and nerdy.

ScottF   Several answers in this puzzle were written by someone who Spells Like Nirvana

mmurphy   I guess we can consider these puzzles Mandatory Fun.

Andy   This puzzle was a bunch of (my) bologna!


Totals this month:

540 correct, 7 incorrect

Rating: 4.24 out of 5 stars

Difficulty: 1.80 out of 5

Monthly mug winner: Ken Mukamal from Lexington, MA

Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks to Tamara Brenner for the graphic.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!