Muller Monthly Music Meta, December

Title: “Surround Sound” by Pete Muller
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a song whose music video has over one billion YouTube views.
Answer: “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?) by Ylvis
puzzle 10:58; meta 15 mins (Matt)



Two in a row for me now, after missing two in a row. A new streak is born!

From the title I guessed that we’d be putting sounds outside the grid, but as it turned out…not exactly. First, let’s look at the puzzle’s five theme entries, easily identifiable from their lengths:

16-A: [1974 Queen song or 1985 Fine Young Cannibals song] = FUNNY HOW LOVE IS. Not familiar with either of these. The next four are all famous, though.

30-A: [1968 Beatles song] = ROCKY RACCOON. Off the White Album.

42-A: [1981 Grover Washington Jr song featuring Bill Withers] = JUST THE TWO OF US

53-A: [1975 Bad Company song] = SHOOTING STAR

70-A: [1985 Sade song] = SMOOTH OPERATOR

Scanned the theme entries for rabbits, and one jumped out quickly: HOWL hidden in 16-Across. That’s an animal sound, and COO, WOOF, HOOT, and MOO followed, hidden in the next four. Now what?

Answer: look for the animals who make those sounds hidden in the clues. They are:

9-A: [Dog docs] = VETS. Dogs WOOF.
64-A: [Cow] = SCARE. Cows MOO.
65-A: [Pigeon perch places] = LEDGES. Pigeons COO.
67-A: [Ending for fool or owl] = ISH. Owls HOOT.
23-D: [Prey for a Tibetan wolf] = YAKS. Wolves HOWL.

Take those five answers in order of their five animals on the long acrosses and you get :

howl — YAKS
coo — LEDGES
woof — VETS
hoot — ISH
moo — SCARE

Here is where I’m guessing a lot of people got stuck: you’ve got to recognize that those first five letters spell YLVIS, and, critically, that that’s not just a random jumble of letters. It’s the name of the two-brother Norwegian comedy duo who created the 2013 megahit (and our contest answer) “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)”.

Warning: I didn’t find this the slightest bit funny when it came out and just tried watching it again but still no.

Unfunny video aside, the song title does tie in nicely to the meta idea, so I didn’t hold the song against the meta! And I will watch Pete & his bandmates’ forthcoming cover version with an open mind. 4.20 stars.

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17 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, December

  1. Eric says:

    I saw HOWL, COO, etc., but the “Surround” in the title had me focusing on the letters that surrounded or bookended the animal sounds, which went nowhere. I never thought to look at the clues for the animals. Most of the clues with the animals sound like standard crossword clues (the 67A clue for ISH struck me as a little weird at the time, but it was not so weird that it stuck in my head).

    And I would not have recognized YLVIS as a band name.

    When I saw that the answer to the 23D clue “Tibetan wolf’s prey” started with Y, I thought for a second that the answer would be Yeti.

    I think I managed to solve the meta five times this year. Of the ones I missed, there were a couple that I should have gotten and a couple that I was unlikely to have ever have gotten. Oh, well. It’s still fun, and I’m looking forward to 2024.

    • Eric says:

      I have no memory of hearing “The Fox” back in 2013, but I must have run across it in some crossword puzzle somewhere.

      I just played the first minute or so of the video for my husband, who was amused by how stupid it is.

      Do you have any idea how many videos have over a billion views on YouTube?

        • Eric H says:

          Which is more than I would have guessed before this puzzle, and way too many to look through the titles to find one that might have been the answer.

          • Pilgrim says:

            That’s how I figured it out. The first thing I did was go through the entire list of 477 songs looking for something relating to “sound” that jumped out. When I got to “The Fox” I just thought “That stupid song has over one billion views?!?” Then when I went to work on the meta and got to Y-L-V-I-S, I remembered where I had seen that before.

  2. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt-

    248 correct this month.
    I’ll bet you that our video cover will make you laugh (released Tuesday with the solution).
    Thanks for all your reviews this year!

    The final MMMM, the mega-meta reveal, will be sent December 19. Solvers need to crack it before then in order to qualify for the Grand Prize drawing.

    • Wait, I’m confused. I thought you didn’t have to solve the mega-meta early (before Dec. 19) to be eligible for the grand prize drawing; just that you had to solve the mega-meta before its solution was revealed and 10 other MMMM puzzles throughout the year.

  3. pbfrommn says:

    For whatever it might be worth—and it’s probably just a coincidence—Y, L, V, I, and S appear in order in the first theme entry. I noticed that and thought of the song before figuring anything else out!

  4. andeux says:

    I initially missed the second part of the meta, but found another song called “The Animal Sounds Song” by Bounce Patrol that also has 1 Billion views.
    Oh well.

  5. Amanda says:

    I submitted “Roar” by Katy Perry. It’s an animal sound like the themers and it has over 1 billion views. Might not be the intended answer but it fits the prompt with no finessing.

  6. Flinty Steve says:

    I never noticed the YLVIS layer – just drew a quick inference from the animal sounds back to the song. Seeing how many plays it has on YouTube was good confirmation.

  7. Cindy N says:

    As I mentioned elsewhere, when you’re certain you have the right path, and everything fits, but you come up with alphabet soup for an answer, Google it!

  8. Pete Muller says:

    With respect to “Roar” as a possible answer:

    Yes, it has over a billion views.
    Yes, a ROAR is an animal sound.

    But it’s not a song title with the word ROAR inside it (“Surround Sound”).
    If there were a song “Your Oar Is Out of the Water,” say, with over a billion views, I could see giving credit. Sorry!

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