meta — DNF
Intended to have all weekend to crack this tough year-ending Muller Meta, but life threw me a curveball and my time available for solving this turned out to be severely limited. I’ve had a few peeks here and there and think I’m on the right track, but haven’t been able to put everything together successfully. So I’m going to try Joon’s method of last resort on my metas, which is to blog the ideas I’ve got so far and see if the act of writing it all out jostles the meta loose.
Our title is “How Revealing!” and instructions ask for a well-known rock song. Our five theme entries are:
17-A [Beatles classic] = AND I LOVE HER
25-A [Hot Chocolate Classic] = YOU SEXY THING
38-A [Kate Bush/Peter Gabriel classic] = DON’T GIVE UP. Is that really a classic? It’s probably the least-known song on the great album “So.”
50-A [Eminem classic] = LOSE YOURSELF. Again “classic” seems a little off since it’s so recent. Definitely a great song. There’s something meta-related to this “classic” phrasing, though.
62-A [Buddy Holly classic covered by the Stones] = NOT FADE AWAY. So again with the “classic” but this one, uniquely, also mentions a cover version.
Then we have two starred entries: symmetrical HEY and LIE, clued as [“Psst!”*] and [“That’s not true!”*] And the blog-solve method may have just borne fruit, as I’ve only now noticed that each of these clues works more precisely if you add a “you,” so “Psst!” is really more “Hey, you!” than “Hey” and “That’s not true!” is closer to “You lie!” than the odd sounding “Lie!”. 55% chance there’s something there.
The first things I noticed were:
*No wordplay that I could find in the titles themselves so I think we’re dealing with some aspect of the songs themselves and not the words in their titles. In addition there aren’t many unusual words in these five titles which leads me to the same suspicion.
*Several odd repetitions in the clues, such as “notably” ending three down clues, plus two Leonard Cohen references in the clues, as well as three Beatles refs and two for Bob Dylan. But these could easily just be coincidence.
*I also spent a little time thinking what the title could mean; maybe clothing? THING from YOU SEXY THING could become a THONG, but then not a lot like that from the others.
Then on studying the clues I noticed something I should have seen right away: the “covered” reference in the last clue. Classics are songs that get covered a lot, and that would fit in the “How Revealing!” title. Let’s see if we can make that work.
A few minutes of Googling revealed that the most famous covers of “And I Love Her” appear to be from Esther Phillips (name unfamiliar to me) and Kurt Cobain. “You Sexy Thing” was covered by Deee-Lite (whom I know) and Tom Tom Club, and also by Stereophonics. “Don’t Give Up” was covered by Alicia Keys and Bono (together), and “Lose Yourself” by a bunch of acts. And then “Not Fade Away” also by a bunch of acts.
So this seemed promising, but I couldn’t find a reason to choose any cover version of these songs over another. As far as I could tell there’s no consistency. I tried to use the first letters of the most obvious ones’ names and see if they spelled anything but that didn’t work. Hmmm.
Next thing: besides the five theme entries, there are two other clues that use the word “classic”: at 15-D we have [Like many classic recordings] for MONO and at 27-D we have [“Tower of ___” (Leonard Cohen classic)] for SONG. But I can’t find any connection to the five usages of “classic” in the theme clues.
OK, running out of time here now so I need to try a last-ditch backsolve. This puzzles was so tough that Pete e-mailed solvers that a hint was a available. I signed up for it and received the following e-mail: “The starred clues are only necessary to confirm your answer.” OK, that means the starred HEY and LIE aren’t an integral part of the meta, just a click strengthener. Probably not very backsolvable but I’m out of options so let’s try it.
Random things: HEY, LIE sounds like the beginning of the ending chorus of “Hello, Goodbye.” So that’s one possible Hail Mary.
Welp, I have nothing else. I still think there’s a 70% chance it has something to do with cover versions of these five songs but I can’t figure out what. I’ve submitted my Hail Mary, which is Springsteen’s “Cover Me.” I give it a 5% chance of being correct. So I will go 10/12 on 2016 Muller Metas, which is two less than the 12/12 I called, Babe Ruth style, at the beginning of the year. Alas and alack! Someone tell us in comments what I missed. I need a 10-Across bad.