Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Three-Part Harmony”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up
This week we’re looking for a “one-hit wonder,” namely a a rock band with a single top-20 hit. Given the title, I wonder if the notes of this hit would appear in theme entries in solfège (DO-RE-MI, etc.) notation, hoping if so I could recognize the tune from its opening notes. This is one of those puzzles where finding out where the thematic material is is 90% of the battle. I doubted the longer BOOK REVIEW and LIGHT TIGHT (whatevah?) were thematic since that left so much of the puzzle unconstrained.
My first thought was that perhaps a lyric or the names of band members would be split in three parts across the grid. Seeing BRADS/ETH in the center right gave me a bit of an adrenaline rush that I might be on the right track. But I couldn’t see many other words split across black squares so I went back to the drawing board.
My inroad into this one was to question three odd 3-letter abbreviations, ETH, GBR and most noticeably ALT. Why not APT or ACT (leading to the equally fine PORE or CORE instead of LORE crossing from that middle letter). I then wondered what if the “Three-Part” part of the title referred to 3-letter entries in the grid? They lay out this way from top to bottom and across to down:
So what musical trio sang “Brick”? Well, none other than the Ben Folds Five (apparently their name was chosen for humorous reasons):
The puzzle had a bit of a prurient vibe, what with SEX ACTS, BONERS and BUTS (SIC). See y’all next week!