WSJ Contest — Friday, January 29, 2021

Grid: 7ish; Meta: while I filled the grid  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Make Him From Them” — Laura’s review

WSJ Contest - 1.29.21 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 1.29.21 – Solution

Thank you, Matt, for a superquick meta that will get a superquick writeup. We’re looking for a one-named singer. Who is the best one-named singer and why is it Cher? Theme thingys:

  • [17a: Prince hit off “Sign o’ the Times”]: U GOT THE LOOK
  • [21a: 1995 Top 10 hit for Joan Osborne]: ONE OF US
  • [33a: Talking Heads song used in the movies “Storks” and “Bewitched”]: AND SHE WAS
  • [45a: 1998 Public Enemy single written for a Spike Lee film of the same name]: HE GOT GAME (which has a lovely sample of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth”)
  • [64a: Tori Amos song from the 1994 album “Under the Pink”]: BELLS FOR HER

I’m liking the 80s/90s vibe here. Thank you, fellow GENX constructor. Also noted:

  • [57a: Short but important word, often]: PRONOUN

Take the PRONOUNs in those themers, and you have U US SHE HE HER … which combine to “make him from them” as the title suggests, for USHER, who is a one-named singer and our answer.


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14 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, January 29, 2021

  1. Golem says:

    It is an astounding discovery that there is a five-letter name out there which contains 5 pronouns. (Well, 4-and-a-letter-that-is-a-pronoun-substitute.)

  2. Aaron Riccio says:

    I . . . definitely went down the wrong path with this one and submitted HIM, since that seemed to be the one pronoun missing from the set.

  3. Barney says:

    I didn’t catch U as a pronoun, and had never heard of Usher.

  4. JohnH says:

    I did see the pronouns, but I didn’t think of squishing them together in quite this way. Maybe it would have helped if a had heard of USHER.

  5. Celeste says:

    Finally got a meta right!! Alas, not randomly picked for a mug!!:(

  6. Mister G. says:

    The solution strikes me as a bit imprecise. The sequence doesn’t even progress as U+S+H+E+R+ where the + is the regular expression for one or more of the previous character. There are some H’s and E’s that are out of sequence for that progression to hold, so the fact that it kinda looks like USHER is the idea I suppose? Am I missing something obvious?

    • Joella D Hultgren says:

      Good points. It “kinda looks like” Usher.

    • DB says:

      The first pronoun gets you U
      The second pronoun has the U and adds S
      The third pronoun has the S and adds H
      The fourth pronoun has the H and adds E
      The last pronoun has the E and adds R

      That sequence progresses U + S + H + E + R.

  7. Silverskiesdean says:

    I agree with Mister G. and Joella in that while I got the Meta, I thought “how would I explain this”? In fact:
    The first pronoun gets you U
    The second pronoun has the U and adds S
    The third drops the U, and adds both an H and E to get SHE
    The fourth drops the S and leaves HE, which was already present
    The last pronoun adds an R to get an HER
    Its inelegance I think comes from the fact that there is no mathematical formula to easily explain how the sequence works.
    After having said that, I love Golem’s observation that there are 5 or 41/2 pronouns to make this 5 letter name which is something that writers like Matt notice every day and people like I don’t notice. I guess because as he says, he is always on a “low-level Meta” alert or something to that effect.

  8. Kathy Case says:

    When does WSJ notify winner of weekly contest via email?

  9. jefe says:

    I swear I’ve seen the US/SHE/HE/HER = USHER sequence in a grid before, but can’t find it, except for the clue [Guide which includes “us,” “she,” “he,” and “her”?]

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