Solution to Evan Birnholz’s August 15 Post Magazine crossword, “Backtrack”

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19A: [Genre for Ma Rainey and Papa Charlie McCoy] is BLUES.

27A: [“Fun Home” has one] is ACT. I got to see this musical a few years ago after I’d read the graphic novel in my book club.

35A: [Peter Gabriel’s band, once] is GENESIS. One tough thing about this puzzle was that whenever there was another band or musician in the grid, I felt pressure to clue them without using a title of one of their songs. The whole point was to point to the reversed song titles in the theme answers, so I felt other titles would just muddle things.

62A: [A cappella group voice] is TENOR.

63A: [Rocker King] is ELLE King.

69A: [The band Phantogram, e.g.] is DUO. I regret that I didn’t get to see them when I had the chance. They played a set at the Firefly Music Festival in 2017, but the Shins were playing around the same time and we went checked them out instead, so we only caught the tail-end of Phantogram’s set. I like their sound a bunch, though.

82A: [Singer Sands] is EVIE Sands.

87A: [Many awards for Audra McDonald] is TONYS. Two of her six Tony Awards were for acting in musicals.

The answer most directly associated with the theme is at 97A: [She’s often associated with the 127 Across] which is Yoko ONO. She shows up often enough in crosswords that one never really needs to plan for it, but I thought it was funny that she appeared this time.

13D: [U.K. band formed in 1970 by members of the Move] is ELO.

29A: [New ___ (music genre)] is New AGE, popularly associated with …

… ENYA at 36D: [Musician once in the Irish band Clannad].

53D: [Double-reed woodwind] is OBOE.

64D: [Brian who composed music for the video game “Spore”] is Brian ENO, the longtime partner of Yoko ONO in the three-letter ?NO musician category of crossword answers.

66D: [Fight the power] is REVOLT, which doesn’t directly refer to music in the clue, but I’m noting it here since “Fight the Power” is a famous song by Public Enemy.

Your Wednesday Briefing

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The Taliban appoint hard-liners to top posts

The Taliban announced a caretaker government on Tuesday, taking a major step in re-establishing their Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and empowering many of the movement’s loyalists from their regime in the 1990s.

After weeks of assurances from Taliban leaders that they would usher in a moderate and inclusive style of governing, most of the acting appointments were senior figures who served in similar roles decades ago.

It was a sign that the theocratic, conservative core of the Taliban remained unchanged. All were men, several of whom are listed by the U.S. and U.N. as terrorists. Few were non-Pashtun.

The announcement came hours after the Taliban used force to break up a demonstration by hundreds of people in Kabul.

Your Friday Briefing

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Biden to require stronger vaccine rules

President Biden on Thursday used the full force of his presidency to get two-thirds of the American work force vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Private sector businesses that have 100 or more employees will have to require vaccination, or mandatory weekly testing, for their workers after Biden instructs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to draft a rule.

The administration also intends to compel vaccination for federal workers, contractors, and 17 million health care workers in hospitals and other institutions that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding. Most federal workers will face disciplinary action or dismissal if they refuse.

“We can and we will turn the tide on Covid-19,” Biden said at the White House.

The Delta variant’s spread has killed roughly 1,500 Americans a day in September. Biden initially steered away from any talk of making vaccines mandatory, but the surge has made him decide on the more aggressive new plan.