Muller Monthly Music Meta, July

Title: “60% Solution” by Pete Muller, Mack Meller, and Andrew White
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is an alternative rock trio.
Answer: Ben Folds Five

puzzle 8ish; meta 12 mins (Matt)



I’m 7-for-7 this year! Unflappable, unstoppable, and utterly unstumpable. Trash-talking so Pete, Mack, and Andrew turn up the heat on us this summer!

My first thought when I saw the title was that we’d be using answers of 5, 10, and 15 letters and taking some relevant three, six, or nine letters from them. When I saw how few 5-letters words there were in the grid (eight) and that they were all on the Acrosses I figured I was on the right track. I wrote them all down and got:


At this point I was assuming we’d use either the first three or the last three letters of each of these 5’s and the first six or last six of the two 10s. Shame-faced admission: I had not noticed at this point that each of the fives consisted 60% of one letter.

Nevertheless I noticed here that BEN FOLDS seemed to be snaking down the center irregularly, and surmised that BEN FOLDS FIVE might be the answer. Still couldn’t see it, and then — facepalm, all those fives are 60% one letter and the 10’s are irrelevant. So let’s try that again:


That’s BEN FOLDS emerging perfectly, an especially well-chosen meta answer because Ben Folds Five is actually a trio, and the important part of each of these fives is a trio of like letters. Amusing and tightly wrapped up! We’re so used to seeing ORONO as fill that no one suspects it could be theme! The “the butler did it” of metas.

4.20 stars. They’ve taken it pretty easy on us so far this year but I won’t get taunting or cocky yet…

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10 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, July

  1. Steve says:

    Speak for yourself. I noticed SURREALISM and STOLEAKISS (both ten letters long) contained the letters SEIS in the same positions (where “seis” is of course Spanish for “six”). I was so sure this was relevant, since the remaining letters are 60% of the solution. I later noticed the A was also in the same position of both, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling I was onto something, especially after not seeing anything else to latch onto.

    As usual, after seeing the answer, I can’t figure out how I missed it yet again.

    • Me says:

      I also got totally hung up on the only 10-letter words, which were SURREALISM and STOLEAKISS, because, as it turns out, they share 6 of the same letters: SEALIS. So, of course, I thought, that must be the 60% solution!

      It got even worse because SEALIS anagrams into AISLES or LASSIE, both of which are rock bands. But neither one are trios (and they are both fairly obscure, although AISLES has a Wikipedia page). But I spent a huge amount of time looking at both bands’ history to try to figure out whether they were ever trios.

      I was so sure that the complete coincidence that the two longest answers shared 60% of the same letters was NOT a coincidence that I never looked for any other answer. Oh well, I’ll try again next month!

  2. Eric H. says:

    I initially thought the title had something to do with letter counts, but trying to apply a 60% rule to the longest answers got me nowhere.

    So I googled “60% solution” and got a bazillion hits for a personal budgeting philosophy whereby you devote 60% of your income to essentials like housing and food. I thought that was a little weird for a MMMM puzzle, but I figured maybe it was one of those things that everyone but me has heard of.

    Then, I came back to the puzzle and found RENT in the middle of PARENTAL. Aha!

    But that was it. There aren’t any other essential costs in the puzzle ‘cause that ain’t how this one works.

    But the way this one works really is nice.

  3. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    308 correct this month.

    We’ll try to bring the heat :)

    Happy summer!

  4. HoldThatThought says:

    Don’t listen to that Gaffney guy, or whatever he calls himself. He’s a shill.

  5. aura says:

    have been hoping for years this puzzle would improve in its inclusiveness of American music genres (indigenous, blues, jazz, etc.) but still the same pop music garbage. Prime example of group think gravitating to the median.

    • Eric H. says:

      I’m too lazy to list the specific answers in the July puzzle, but they include country, jazz, classical, metal, indie rock, R&B and Broadway. That seems fairly diverse to me.

    • HoldThatThought says:

      I’ve been waiting for years for HBO to stream Bollywood movies, for CBS to carry more British daytime talk programmes, and for the CNN to cover as much Azerbaijani news as the same boring US stuff they seem to focus on, everyday.

      Don’t even get me started on how Soul Train never once featured polka or Värttinä, which is like THE thing in Norway, for sure. I can’t even begin to tell you the last time I was in an elevator, and heard the Mantovani Strings version of one halfway decent Slipknot song.

      Can you imagine a crossword puzzle that dares to refer to itself as a “music themed meta”, yet doesn’t encompass Afrobeat, Trance, Ska-punk and Gagaku?

      I’m leaving in a huff.

  6. shirk says:

    After getting stymied by the same focus on just the 10-letter words, I went down a different rat hole, noticing SIXpacks and asCENT and wasting too much time trying to find a way to force a construction of TY and PER (or TYPER) in there to spell out SIXTY PERCENT. I also noticed that the letters of TALISMAN kind of snake around between SIX and CENT, but they’re a Swedish hard rock quartet, not an alt-rock trio.

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