puzzle 9:08 minutes; meta about 8 minutes (Matt)
Season 3, episode 9 of the Muller Music Meta is here. The puzzle’s title is “Hidden Trio (Without Hesitation)” and Pete asks us to find a band that has won multiple Grammy Awards.
It appeared to me at first glance (and turned out to be the case) that the puzzle had three theme entries. I guessed this because the rest of the grid looked too wide-open and smooth to hide much in the way of trickery, and the puzzle’s curious title refers to a “trio.”
Those three were:
20-A [Woman who sang the “Licence to Kill” theme song] = GLADYS KNIGHT. No Pips required.
38-A [Pre-Motown all-female group] = THE CHANTELS. Heard of them but I need a refresher on what their hit(s) were. This was the biggest one.
56-A [Warner Bros. put out a 1971 girl-group album named after her] = PATTI LABELLE.
I started my meta search with a few notes on the puzzle. From the title and the three theme entries I posited that there were words hidden in those three theme entries. As you can see, I found that GLADYS KNIGHT conceals LADY, which turned out to be relevant, and that PATTI LABELLE conceals ATTILA, which did not. I also scrawled down a few Patti Labelle hits from her Wiki page.
But I was tired, and under some time pressure (forgot about the MMMM until around 9 PM, when I got back from dinner at my in-laws’ house), and worried I wouldn’t get this one since only 75 solvers had figured it out when I checked.
That’s when I remembered a trick that meta-solver extraordinaire Jeffrey Harris revealed when I interviewed him recently on my website. Allow me to quote the master himself:
One [trick] that rarely works, but when it does is quite exhilarating, is just thinking of or looking up a list of all the possible answers and going through them asking myself “How would this fit into a meta?”
Well I tried it, and it worked, and it was indeed exhilarating. You can only roll the dice on this when the meta category is manageably small; “this week’s contest answer is a world capital,” probably not. “This week’s contest answer is a South American capital,” quite possibly so.
So I typed “grammy-winning trio” into Google, and the first two that popped out, as you can see from the top of my worksheet above, were TLC and The Fugees. Didn’t see anything from those, but the third one? Meta answer LADY ANTEBELLUM, whose correctness I realized so quickly that I didn’t even get to jot it down.
LADY is hidden in GLADYS KNIGHT, as mentioned above; ANTE hides in THE CHANTELS; and BELL hides in PATTI LABELLE. Where’s the UM? Go back to puzzle’s odd title: “(Without Hesitation)” is a cryptic crossword style hint that you don’t need the hesitation syllable “um,” so LADY ANTEBELLUM it is.
Pretty sneaky, of both me and Pete. He accidentally left the garage door slightly ajar and I snuck in and stole his lawnmower. With some help from the friendly folks at Google, that is.
Fun stuff, 3.75 stars.