BACK ON THE CHARTS
It took me rather far too long to figure out today’s theme of one-named singers. From DION to DRAKE, and from CHER to BRANDY, they run the scale from old to new and from well-known to, well, less well-known. I was surprised, as I reviewed this, by just how many Mr. Madison was able to cram into this grid. I was also somewhat interested to see that HONOLULU, which contains LULU, also contains ONO, and that BECK is drawn from the musical performer Dave BRUBECK. And PRINCE isn’t exactly hidden in LITTLEPRINCE. Kind of makes it a little less perfect, but I guess it’s ok.
There’s very little over seven or eight letters that isn’t also involved in the theme, so there’s not a whole lot to talk about.
1A: Top (ACME) – B-. Mostly in the Bs for its reminding me for the second day in a row of Looney Toons.
Favorite: 113D: It’s inspired. (AIR) That’s an inspired clue!
Least: ALII (6D: Others of ancient Rome?). We have heard some defense of this form in the comments, but I argue that it is never found outside of crosswords. Et alia is the common expression, and there is no justification, in my opinion, for using the masculine variant. Have we ever seen “et aliae?” It’s been used once – Wednesday, March 18, 1981, under Eugene Maleska. (Thanks xwordinfo.com!) And “alii” has been used 229 times. I call gender-bias!
AGOUTI (69D: Guinea pig relative) is pretty obscure, and LANED, ONYXES, ASAMI, HEISTING, and ARCTAN are all a little crosswordsy. I didn't love it.