Muller Monthly Music Meta, July

Muller Monthly Music Meta, July — “Double Time”

puzzle 7:41 minutes; meta DNF (Matt) 


Season 3, Episode 7, and once again the Muller Meta is brutalizing my mind and keeping its secrets tightly held. Fortunately I’m not alone, as just 24 right answers appear on the leaderboard with half an hour to go (and that leaderboard is heavy with heavy hitters in the meta-solving world, so you’ve got to be good to get this one). At any rate, I’ll try panic-blogging it now and see if that shakes loose a last-minute save.

Instructions ask for a musical genre, and the four theme clues each include a parenthetical subgenre of rock and roll:

20-A [2003 Helen Mirren movie about a group of women posing nude for charity (country rock)] = CALENDAR GIRLS.

28-A [Piece of financial page info (folk rock)] = BOND YIELD.

45-A [Clothing collections (pop rock)] = WARDROBES.

55-A [“And the full story is even worse!” (hard rock)] = TO PUT IT MILDLY.

I’m guessing there’s an 80% chance that these four clues/answers and the title are all there is to the meta. The grid seems too tightly packed for Pete to have worked any piece of fill into things, and the three sets of double-ish clues don’t seem to lead anywhere: [Italian tourist destination] doubles for ASTI and AMALFI, while both SCOT and LIBRA have a “by birth” tag in their clues, and SFO and LAX are symmetrically placed and clued as [Northern/Southern CA airport]. That last one is highly intriguing, but putting them all together they don’t seem tight enough to be meta-related.

Using the title, I’ve also tried bands with double-word names that fit into the parenthetical subgenres, like Duran Duran for pop rock, but didn’t get very much further.

I’ve also tried coming up with synonyms for the four theme entries. Didn’t work, but it was promising enough that maybe typing out my thoughts will lead somewhere: “Calendar Girls” could = PINUPS; “bond yield” could = RETURN or INTEREST; “wardrobes” could = ARMOIRES; and “to put it mildly” could = UNDERSTATE or DOWNPLAY. But then what do I double?

Other things I’ve noticed/tried: one of the subgenres is “country rock” and ESTONIA at 53-A is a country; the nine double letters in the grid are OO EE GG SS CC LL TT EE DD, which anagram to not much; and that backsolving by looking at a Ranker list of the greatest folk rockers of all time isn’t very helpful.

OK, I give up. I’m guessing prog-rock for no good reason. Someone tell me in comments what I missed so I can have a restful sleep. Second month in a row I’ve missed the Muller Meta. Awful.

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24 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, July

  1. Giovanni P. says:

    I got this one off the last entry mainly.

    Notice how the start of TO PUT IT MILDLY contains the word TOP. If you combine that with the hard rock hint from the clue, you might connect it to ZZ TOP. Hmm, a double letter. Can the other entries work like that?

    CALENDAR GIRLS gives us CALE, referring to JJ Cale.



    And ZZ Top, as noted above.

    Put the four entries together, and you get JAZZ.

    Honestly, if it weren’t for ZZ Top, I would have never gotten this one. Still, 11th hour save.

  2. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    28 correct this month, with a few sneaking in at the buzzer

    ZZ TOP

    all artists in their respective genres

    First initials give JAZZ

    Was much harder for solvers than I expected!

  3. abide says:

    I’ve also never heard of those first three, so this would have been a tough backsolve. It did seem likely that the answer would be four letters. I guessed ACID ROCK since all the others had some type of rock in the clue.

    BONDYIELD looked very close to BObDYlan, the first name in folk rock. It also surrounds DY with BLONDIE. I didn’t come up with much more than that.

  4. Tom says:

    My entry point was noticing that “BONDY-ield” sounded like it could be someone’s name, so I Googled [bondy folk] and saw “A.A. Bondy” all over the place. I immediately looked for ZZ Top, and the rest was a couple more Googles to confirm. Sometimes you just get lucky!

  5. David Stein says:

    While these music metas often stump me this one came quite easy. I knew JJ Cale, Googled AA Bondy and I was off to the races…,

  6. Bencoe says:

    I also got ZZ TOP first. I decided to concentrate on that entry because I know more about hard rock than the other genres. With “double” on the mind I noticed ZZ could go before the entry to give the band, and JJ CALE confirmed the insight. Never heard of ZZ WARD but it came up quickly in google.

    • Pete Muller says:

      Take a listen to this to appreciate what you’re missing (ZZ WARD):

      • pannonica says:

        Not impressed. I’ll take ZZ HILL.

        Wish I’d remembered about this puzzle. I might have had a chance at the meta.

        • Pete Muller says:

          Never heard of him until now – but I like the sound!

          ZZ TOP, ZZ WARD, ZZ HILL…there’s another puzzle in there

          • charles montpetit says:

            Not to mention jaZZ.

            For the record, as a test-solver, the bracketed genres had nothing to do with my cracking the meta, so the last-minute changes that were made to the puzzle wouldn’t have affected my speed. Just seeing the title and noticing that the first theme entry started with CALE was enough for me. ZZ Top confirmed it and backsolving the rest was a mere technicality.

            (As for Cale’s notoriety, come now: the man wrote both “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” and won the 2008 Grammy for Best contemporary blues. If that doesn’t qualify him as fair game in a crossword, I don’t know what does.)

  7. Paul Coulter says:

    J.J. Cale was my entry into this. He’s a giant in Blues music. Like others, I didn’t know the middle two, but Z.Z. Top confirmed it. As I wrote to Pete, I’m surprised he didn’t work B.B. King into the clues as a sort of hint. Good job, Pete. Four stars from me.

  8. Matt Gaffney says:

    I’ve never heard of ZZ Ward or AA Bondy, but could have backsolved from ZZ Top and JJ Cale if I’d had the proper insight.

  9. Howard B says:

    When you haven’t even heard or even had a sniff at 3 of 4, there really isn’t much chance of solving a meta off the possible faint guess of 1 of 4. ZZ TOP was one of about 67 or 145 (give or take a few) dead ends that went nowhere here. There was no reason for me to Google that particular avenue since I didn’t have anything else to work from.
    That’s my deficiency, but this one was a hell of a snark hunt. Sorry. Knowing a second one here would have made all the difference to me :).

    • Pete Muller says:

      FWIW, a few solvers mentioned that they had only heard of ZZ Top out of the four.
      But only knowing them definitely made the solve much harder.

      My test solvers breezed (!) through this one and as a result I tried to make the meta slightly harder, but clearly overshot…details in the write-up Tuesday.

      • Howard B says:

        No worries, Pete. It’s a clever meta as always! I was making clear that the deficiency was on my end, and that my lack of knowledge of the names failed me in the meta. Others had a similar experince; of these, some still were able to work it out just from ZZ Top.
        It seems many others were familiar with at least one other name. So no sour grapes except for my lack of musical (knowledge) chops ;)

      • jefe says:

        I agreed with Howard – it was certainly clever as well as fair. All the pieces were there, in the hints in the theme clues and the title, but I just didn’t have the prior musical knowledge to put them together. (Relatedly, said lack of musical knowledge led to a quite embarrassing moment at trivia the other night.)

  10. DBraun91 says:

    I have a vague recollection of hearing the name JJ Cale. I immediately started looking for the double letter/initial names even though I was convinced it was JAZZ (or maybe even jazz fusion, since it’s technically JJAAZZZZ, fusing two jazzes together). The meta concept itself was fairly quick to grok because of the Fireball meta from a few weeks (months?) ago that uses the same trick.

  11. Abby B says:

    I guess I must comment since I just broke my (the only) total winning streak: I just drew a blank. I got, from WARDROBES, ZZ Ward and thought of ZZ Top, so I tried to make two artists from each, thinking there was some kind of chain thing going on. My mistake was completely missing that TOP was the start of the bottom word! (And, further, not breaking up other words.) I was going to send in “Jazz” anyway because of the Zs but “thought long, thought wrong” as my younger brother is fond of saying and changed my mind at the last minute.

    In my defense (not that I need one, I guess, since my point lead is probably insurmountable now), the holiday weekend messed up my schedule a lot. I was pretty much doomed when I didn’t get it instantly. Never saw fit to complain before, but five-ish days to solve with a month between puzzles does seem a little short to me.

    And don’t worry- random draw is not my friend. I’d bet money I won’t win in the end even if I resume flawless play. :-)

    • Pete Muller says:

      I’d consider making the solving window longer during holiday weekends. Five days does seem to work pretty well the rest of the time (I’ve only had one solver request to make it longer)

  12. Armagh says:

    AA Bondy and ZZ Ward are a bit of a reach, especially considering Bondy goes by “Scott” these days.

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