MGWCC #663

crossword 4:33 
meta 0:01 


hello and welcome to episode #663 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Three in a Row”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that we are looking for a #1 hit of the 1980s. okay, what are the theme answers? this is a rebus puzzle with three different rebus squares:

  • in the top left corner, {Seismic activity} [EARTH]QUAKES intersects {Me and you (I’m assuming), for example} [EARTH]LINGS. well, matt, i can’t speak for everybody, but you’ve got me pegged right—this is my home planet.
  • in the grid’s exact center, {Romantic room} HONEY[MOON] SUITE crosses {In the distant past} MANY [MOON]S AGO.
  • finally, in the bottom right corner, {1980 Springsteen hit that begins “Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack”} HUNGRY [HEART] crosses {Darling} SWEET[HEART]. i don’t know that springsteen song.

i do, however, know another hit song of the 1980s which is the answer to the meta: bonnie tyler’s TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART, visually represented here by the alignment of these three astronomical bodies … er, two astronomical bodies and one heart.

it’s possible i’ve missed something, but i don’t think there’s any other thematic content in the crossword to hint at the meta answer. the rebus squares are interesting in that they are all part of longish answers; in particular, HONEY[MOON] SUITE and MANY [MOON]S AGO are the longest entries in the grid, so even though there are, in some sense, only three “theme” squares, the theme reaches into every corner of the grid.

i thought this meta was … fine. the idea of representing an “eclipse” as an alignment of rebus squares is interesting, but it left me wanting a little more. i also wonder about the accessibility of the puzzle to a younger audience—anybody who didn’t know the song off the top of their head would have, i think, an unenviable task of looking through an exhaustive list of 1980s #1 songs to find it, since, for example, googling for “earth moon heart” in combination with “song” or “billboard” or “#1 hit” wouldn’t turn up anything useful. it’s a pretty famous song for gen Xers (and older), and millennials who know pop music well would certainly be familiar with it, though, so maybe i’m just imagining a nonexistent solver who doesn’t know the song.

the flip side to all of that is that there is something fundamentally entertaining about this song and, especially, its outrageously overwrought music video in which bonnie tyler’s extremely ’80s hair is somehow not among the ten most over-the-top visual elements. i just rewatched the video, and let me tell you, every now and then i fell apart. specifically, every time i saw those glowing demon eyes, i absolutely lost it. the combination fencing/swimming team also has pretty high comedic effect.

all right, that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you like this meta?

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29 Responses to MGWCC #663

  1. Wayne says:

    I thought about Lucky Charms cereal for about 10 seconds. But that song wormed its way into my ear, and then I was done.

    Also, this is the first time I can remember a MGWCC meta where you could Google the answer so easily, thanks to this nerdy t-shirt:

  2. David Plass says:

    “earth moon heart song” was my Google search and it worked the first time. Worse, I know the song well, having grown up in the 80s…

    • Paul J Coulter says:

      Ditto. I do know the song, but it didn’t come readily to mind, so I was pleased when Googling produced the answer.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Same here. I don’t like the song, but the EARTH MOON HEART trio wasn’t putting me in mind of anything so I googled … and now there’s *one* thing that song has done for me.

  3. Mutman says:

    Interesting. As one who was very much alive in the 80s, I had no clue on this meta. I Googled Earth/moon/heart to no avail. When I saw over 600 people getting it right, I felt pretty dumb.

    So I went after lists of top songs in the 80s. Fortunately, it only took me 4 lists (1983) and I spotted the answer right away. I knew the song, but it was a little too ‘pop-ish’ for my tastes back in the day.

    I’m impressed so many got it so easily, as I am probably in the older crowd for this site.

    But hey, nothing says the 80s better than high hair, a cheesy video with too much choreographed dancing and a bunch of shirtless men! Thanks of the link, Joon!

    • R says:

      I had the same experience scrolling through 1980s charts. I definitely know this song, but I’ve done enough Muller Metas to know how few popular songs I actually know.

  4. Alice S. says:

    I easily got the three rebus entries. I even drew a diagonal line connecting the earth, moon and heart. When I tried to think of a fitting song, I drew a complete blank.

    I am definitely old enough to know that song. In fact, now that I’ve read the solution, I am singing it in my head. Oh well!

  5. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 663 right answers this week.

    Wanted to use “Star-Studded Lineup” but tester thought it would be weird that one of the three rebus squares actually is a star and the other two aren’t.

  6. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I think I’d have done better on this one if it was SUN EARTH HEART. I’d say the lunar eclipse configuration is more appropriate for an eclipse of the heart than the solar eclipse configuration, since the heart doesn’t produce its own light. (Maybe it reflects the light from the bright eyes? The metaphors in this song are not exactly coherent.)

    • Wayne says:

      But Ms. Tyler really missed on opportunity. “Total L3 Lagrange of the Heart” would have been an awesome B-side.

  7. Seth C says:

    The only thing better than the video is the literal lyrics version.

  8. pannonica says:

    As long as we’re discussing the video, don’t neglect the ‘literal’ version that was first posted in 2009. It was taken down from YouTube but lives on here.

  9. ajk says:

    To me, the title and the grid arrangement is enough to suggest eclipse, and a search for eclipse plus 80s song wouldn’t leave much room for doubt. Agree though that one had a leg up if familiar with the title.

  10. Seth Cohen says:

    As others have said, the title didn’t immediately pop out to me, so I googled “Earth moon heart song” and there it was.

    PS hi other Seth C!

  11. omniart says:

    Well now I’m mad at myself for considering this solution and passing on it.

  12. Icdogg says:

    I thought we would have until 5 today because the puzzle came out late.

  13. Garrett says:

    Amusingly you can rebus the answer with these three:

    — a picture of a tube of Total toothpaste
    — a picture of an Eclipse gum cannister
    — a picture of the Wilson sisters (or the heart you drew in the grid)

  14. Norm H says:

    Outrageously overwrought and over-the-top? A Jim Steinman song? Who woulda thunk? :)

  15. C. Y. Hollander says:

    Now that we’ve gone through seven weeks of the new year, I’m really starting to wonder whether Matt’s New Year’s resolution was to make easier puzzles. It seems to me that all seven have been easier than the average for that week of a month.

  16. ===Dan says:

    I forgot to come here to post the “alternate” answer, another #1 song in that decade, Arthur’s Theme (The Best that You Can Do). There’s an “I” between the Moon and New York City (part of Earth), and the ultimate answer in the grid is the heart…

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