This week's Premier Crossword by Frank Longo is titled "2-For-1 #1 Hits" and I immediately suspected the long them answers would somehow contain the names of hit songs - at least I hoped so, because if there's one thing that's in my wheelhouse it's chart-topping hits. As long as there's no hip-hop or rap titles involved I should be home free.
As luck would have it that's exactly what the theme is, and furthermore all of the hits are from the '50s through the early '90s - Bingo! Of course the long answers are all clued wackily to suggest the combined songs, and Frank even helpfully added the years they were hits although to be honest I didn't even notice that feature until I was all done with the puzzle. So when the last hit has been played we wind up with this collection of pop music that went to the top of the charts:
27a - AMERICAN WOMAN IN LOVE (Smitten lady from the U.S.? [1970/1980])
35a - CROCODILE ROCK THE BOAT (Order to a Nile reptile to upset a vessel? [1973/1974])
55a - YOU'RE SIXTEEN TONS (Comment to a growing whale? [1974/1955])
65a - ONE MORE NIGHT FEVER (Another high body temperature at bedtime? [1985/1978])
79a - ANGIE BABY GOT BACK (My sweetie Dickenson returned? [1974/1992])
95a - WILD WILD WEST END GIRLS (Very uncivilized lasses in Soho? [1988/1986])
108a-PAINT IT BLACK OR WHITE (Apply a wall coating in either of two opposite shades? [1966/1991])
So there you have it - 7 pairs of song titles cleverly joined by a word common to each one to yield a phrase as clued. That's pretty cool I think, and trying to guess the song names with only a few crosswords in place was a lot of fun. Frank even included a bonus title with "LET IT BE" (51d - #1 Beatles hit of 1970) appearing in the center of the grid - you know that was no accident.
With all of that great music swimming around in my head as I solved the puzzle I barely noticed the non-theme fill but as I look back over the grid I see a few interesting (to me, anyway) combinations:
- LEAVE BE (15d - Stop bugging) foreshadows the already mentioned LET IT BE.
-GOA (68d - __few rounds), BOA (73a - Fluffy scarf) and TOA (74a - __T (just so)) is an unfortunate trio to have in a grid it seems to me. OONA (66d - "Game of Thrones" actress Chaplin would have joined the list but for her extra O.
- Gridder Bart STARR (113a) and NFLer TOM Brady (114d) meet up at the bottom of the grid even though they never met on the gridiron.
- The British Isles are abundantly present in the puzzle with NAE (31a - No, in Paisley), AYR (46d - Scottish port), AER (Lingus (Irish carrier) - 106a), and LAIRDS (101d - Landed Scots). One wonders if it was a tip of the Tam o' Shanter on recognition of the historic vote that took place in Scotland this week?
I managed to get through the grid with only a couple of mis-steps: I guessed wrong at how to abbreviate "mortgage" so Mort. had to be replaced with MTGE (50d - Pymt. for a home-owner), and I initially guessed the wrong #1 hit when I put GeT BACK at the end of 79a, but that was easily fixed when I realized that BABY had to be involved in the title. ENUF (52d - Ample, in dialect) said on that topic.
I spotted one other song title hiding in the grid, I AM (49a - Response to "Are you sure?") is the title of a couple of different pop songs plus a Christian version but none of them made it to the top of the charts. Still let's take a listen to one of them since you may never have heard it before:
And with that I AM out of here - see you next week!