7
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On an aimless jaunt downtown, you stumble across an intriguing music store in a less-traveled back alley. Though its shopfront looks a bit grimy and run-down, clearly perceptible in the front window is a neon image of a vinyl LP spinning in an old-fashioned record player, and below it, a black sign with small words, illegible from far away. Deciding to investigate further, as your Puzzling Stack Exchange Contract requires you to, you approach the store and process the writing on the sign:
Nicely And Neatly Packaged
~ RECORDS ~
Open 24 Hours
Over 300 Locations Across North America

You step inside the store and a mechanical bell rings. Rock and roll memorabilia replicas, some now dusty or worn with age, line the walls, and a tall, imposing record shelf stands in the center of the floor. The store owner, who had seemingly been making a telephone call to home, cuts her conversation short as best she can and pipes up immediately from behind the cash register.

"Well, it's about time! I haven't had any customers in here in what feels like forever. Go on, have a good look around the store. I'd highly recommend anything on the Gold Standards shelf, though."

Pointing, she directs you to the central rack. Having not taken more than a mindless glance at the store's name, you are immediately dazzled by the qualities of the records on them. Some of the records seem to have gone literally gold and platinum -- they are extremely dense when lifted, and they sparkle under the faltering lights of the shop. And their packaging is even more impressive. Real jewels appear to have been set into glam rockers' costumes in several of the record cover art pictures. And judging from the track listings, EVERY copy is a deluxe copy here, with all bonus tracks, liner notes, and in some cases even artist autographs visible within the packages.

Before this has even fully sunk in, you are once again dazzled -- and this time, not in a good way. You glimpse the price board on the side of the Gold Standards rack, and read off the prices of the fifteen records on the shelves as follows.

THIS WEEK'S "GOLD STANDARDS": Appetite for Destruction $21.30 Bleed American $48.00 Centerfold $5.08 Direct Hits $702.00 The Essential *NSYNC $407.00 Greatest Hits: HIStory, Volume I $219.00 Music Box $63.10 One Way or Another $2.12 Raise a Little Hell $6.04 Red $61.00 Rollin' On the River $510.00 That's the Way (I Like It) $3.05 Wagon Wheel $8.43 Who Let the Dogs Out $?????? Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots $40.50

Well, it definitely seems like you won't be buying any new music on this trip (or any other one for about the next five years). But that question-marked price still intrigues you. You locate the classic album "Who Let the Dogs Out" at the right side of the Gold Standards rack, lift it up, and turn back to the owner.
"I... what? What is this?" you ask. "Why is everything so... uh... fancy? And so expensive? And... what... what's up with Who Let the Dogs Out?"
"Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh..." she begins. Then she replies -- apparently only to your final question. "That, my friend, is this week's Mystery Standard. If you can figure out its price, I will give you ALL of the music on that shelf, free of charge. Dun dun dun... Ahahahaha... Good luck!"

What is the price of the Mystery Standard?

HINT #1
As you continue to ponder upon all the possible values that the price of this mysterious Baha Men release could take, you turn your attention above the counter, where another neon sign is on display, this one featuring the store's name formed from pipes, with each word on a separate line. It is cracked in one corner and flickering weakly now, explaining its absence from the front window. However, it appeared to have been very impressive while it was in service. Only the initials of the name are still fully illuminated, casting their green, blue, pink, and yellow glows down over the cash register. But you're still not sure how
"Nicely
And
Neatly
Packaged"
is particularly helpful.

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ According to this list Appetite for Destruction has 21.3 million certified sales, which corresponds neatly to $21.30. But it doesn't seem to hold true for any others I could find data on, so likely a coincidence... $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jul 21 '16 at 1:08
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Sorry, no banana. Good effort but it was indeed a coincidence. $\endgroup$ – A. Mirabeau Jul 21 '16 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ Time for a hint :o $\endgroup$ – IAmInPLS Jul 22 '16 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, sorry for not giving you one earlier. I hope I can make up for it by getting up and posting it at 4 AM. $\endgroup$ – A. Mirabeau Jul 22 '16 at 10:42
8
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It costs

$24.20

The prices are

The area codes of the artists, times
$\frac{1}{100}$ if it is a single
$\frac{1}{10}$ if it is a studio album
$1$ if it is a compilation album

So, Who Let the Dogs Out (no question mark!), being a studio album released by the Baha Men in the Bahamas, costs $242 \times \frac{1}{10} = \$24.20$

One notable peculiarity:

Wagon Wheel appears to be the Darius Rucker version rather than the Bob Dylan/Ketch Secor original, presumably because the two of them are from different places and it wouldn't work as Nicely And Neatly.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You got it! Huzzah! A pile of precious music to you, sir. Enjoy listening to live *NSYNC concerts with exclusive commentary. Just a fun fact about this puzzle -- I tend to like to embed clues that might be beneficial to the solver in various unexpected places within the masses of flavor text. In this case, the fact that the store owner was making a "telephone call to home" was the relevant clue. The same scene mentions a "bell". Finally, "Over 300 Locations Across North America" obliquely referred to the fact that the NANP encompasses over 300 area codes, all in North America only. $\endgroup$ – A. Mirabeau Jul 22 '16 at 13:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank You for the Music! ... Wait, this shop doesn't sell ABBA, do they? :( $\endgroup$ – Will Jul 22 '16 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ Not unless you're willing to pay... $4,600. But let's not even go there. $\endgroup$ – A. Mirabeau Jul 22 '16 at 13:31

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