Welcome to the second edition of the Muller Monthly Music Meta. This month Pete asks us to name a hit song from 1979. Four house-shaped sets of seven circles adorn the four corners of the grid, and as I solved I realized the same seven letters went into those seven circles each time: MSEESAG or MEESGAS when read across only, but MESSAGE when read in a spiral.
Hmmm, that’s intriguing. The two long entries crossing in the middle — THE POLICE and SENDING OUT AN S.O.S. — convinced me that the meta’s answer was “Message in a Bottle” since 1) the former is the name of the band that recorded it; 2) the latter is a phrase repeated many times in the song; 3) the circle arrangements resemble bottles, and 4) the title “Help!” fits.
Pretty easy, but notice a few elegant touches: first, that the MESSAGE runs counterclockwise from the top in the left pair of bottles and clockwise in the right pair, and always from the top down. That’s aesthetically pleasing and consistent. Second, notice GO SOLO clued as [Leave the band a la Sting], yet another Police reference. And last, note that if you arbitrarily color the central entries in red, as I did in the solution grid, they form the St. George’s Cross of England’s flag. Undoubtedly unintentional, but you can’t deny that that’s England’s flag over there!
There is some unpleasant fill necessitated by the four MESSAGEs in the corners and those two central crossers: ELE, UELE, RALE and EMEERS. But all had easy crossings and there’s a lot of good fill as well: MAKE ME, MATISSE, SEA LEGS,TOSS OUT, BEE GEES, I DO NOT, SCHMEAR, ON RICE and I’M LATE. Seems tough to have worked any elegance into those four MESSAGE corners but he certainly pulled it off.
In addition to the meta, Pete also asked solvers to submit clues that would’ve made non-music entries music-related, so here’s my effort: [___ of Base] for ACE, referencing the ABBA of the ’90s. Or Ace Frehley of KISS. Kelly Clarkson does not hook up, BTW and FYI.
I give it 4.28 stars: simple to solve with so many hints, but a clever idea and elegantly executed. We’re still in easy meta territory, as promised for the first few months by Pete, but who knows when the difficulty level might suddenly ramp up? So keep those meta-cracking instruments (a.k.a. brains) astute and I’ll see you back here in July for MMMM #3.