Grammy Award for Song of the Year
The Grammy Award for Song of the Year is an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards. The Song of the Year award is one of the four most prestigious categories at the awards (alongside Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Album of the Year), presented annually since the 1st Grammy Awards in 1959. According to the 54th Grammy Awards description guide, the award is presented:
If a winning song contains samples or interpolations of existing material, the publisher and songwriter(s) of the original song(s) can apply for a Winners Certificate.
Song of the Year is related to but is conceptually different from Record of the Year or Album of the Year:
- Song of the Year is awarded for a single or for one track from an album. This award goes to the songwriter who actually wrote the lyrics and/or melodies to the song. "Song" in this context means the song as composed, not its recording.
- Record of the Year is also awarded for a single or individual track, but the recipient of this award is the performing artist, the producer, recording engineer and/or mixer for that song. In this sense, "record" means a particular recorded song, not its composition or an album of songs.
- Album of the Year is awarded for a whole album, and the award is presented to the artist, songwriter, producer, recording engineer, and mastering engineer for that album. In this context, "album" means a recorded collection of songs (a multi-track LP, CD, or download package), not the individual songs or their compositions.
History and description
The Song of the Year awards have been awarded since 1959. It is one of the four most prestigious Grammy Awards. Despite both the Record of the Year award and Song of the Year being awarded for a single or for one track from an album, this award goes only to the composer(s) of the song whereas the Record of the Year award goes to the performer and production team of the song. According to the 54th Grammy Awards description guide, the award is given to the songwriter(s) of a song that "must contain melody and lyrics and must be either a new song or a song first achieving prominence during the eligibility year. Songs containing prominent samples or interpolations are not eligible".
Since the late 1960s other songwriter's awards have been presented for genre-specific categories including Grammy Award for Best Country Song (since 1965), Grammy Award for Best R&B Song (since 1969), Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media (since 1988), Grammy Award for Best Rock Song (since 1992), and most recently Grammy Award for Best Rap Song (since 2004), Grammy Award for Best Gospel Song (from 2006 to 2014), Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song (from 2012 to 2014), Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song (since 2014), Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance/Song (since 2015), and Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song (since 2015).
The category was expanded to include eight nominees in 2019.
In many cases, the songwriters were also the performers (Domenico Modugno, Henry Mancini, John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Joe South, Paul Simon, Carole King, Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Sting, Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie, Bobby McFerrin, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Seal, Shawn Colvin, Rob Thomas, U2, Alicia Keys, Luther Vandross, John Mayer, Dixie Chicks, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Beyoncé, Lady Antebellum, Adele, Fun, Lorde, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino and Billie Eilish).
Multiple winners in this category include Henry Mancini ("Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses"), Johnny Mercer ("Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses"), James Horner ("Somewhere Out There" and "My Heart Will Go On"), Will Jennings ("Tears in Heaven" and "My Heart Will Go On"), U2 ("Beautiful Day" and "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own"), and Adele ("Rolling in the Deep" and "Hello"), winning two times each. However, songs written for Andy Williams, Roberta Flack, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler have received this award twice.
Paul McCartney and Lionel Richie have the most Song of the Year nominations amongst songwriters with six each. Both won once, McCartney for "Michelle" and Richie for "We Are the World". With five nominations, Taylor Swift is the most nominated female songwriter in the history of the award, although she has not won it yet.
Christopher Cross and Billie Eilish are the only artists to receive the Grammys for Song of the Year as well as Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist in a single ceremony. Adele is the first artist to win the award for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist, non-consecutively, and first woman to accomplish this feat. Only six artists have won the Song of the Year and Best New Artist awards the same year: Christopher Cross ("Sailing", 1981), Alicia Keys ("Fallin'", 2002), Amy Winehouse ("Rehab", 2008), Fun ("We Are Young", 2013), Sam Smith ("Stay with Me (Darkchild Version)", 2015) and Billie Eilish ("Bad Guy", 2020); Marvin Hamlisch is the only composer to win the Song of the Year and Best New Artist awards the same year in 1975, for "The Way We Were".
The song "Nel blu, dipinto di blu (Volare)", winner in 1959, written by Domenico Modugno and performed in Italian, is the only foreign-language song to win this award, although the 1967 winner "Michelle" penned by Lennon–McCartney for The Beatles to perform, has a critical part of its lyrics in French.
The first and only tie in this category in Grammy history took place in 1978, when both Barbra Streisand's & Paul Williams' "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" and Joe Brooks' "You Light Up My Life" win the award.
The first time in Grammy history that two different songs with the same title have been nominated in this category happened with "Hello" written by Lionel Richie in 1985 and "Hello" by Adele & Greg Kurstin in 2017.
Since creation of this category, no songwriter has won Song of the Year twice in a row.
Thirty-two of the winning songs have also won the award for Record of the Year.
Members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominate their choices for song of the year. A list of the top twenty records is given to the Nominations Review Committee, a specially selected group of anonymous members, who then select the top eight records to gain a nomination in the category in a special ballot. The rest of the members then vote a winner from the five nominees. In 2018, it was announced the number of nominated tracks will be increased to eight.
- An asterisk (*) indicates this recording also won Record of the Year.
- ^[I] Each year is linked to the article about the Grammy Awards held that year.
- ^[II] The performing artist is only listed but does not receive the award.
- Grammy Award for Record of the Year
- Grammy Award for Best Country Song
- Grammy Award for Best R&B Song
- Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media
- Grammy Award for Best Rock Song
- Grammy Award for Best Rap Song
- Grammy Award for Best Gospel Song
- Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance/Song
- Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song
- Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song
- Grammy Award for Best American Roots Song
- "Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 4, 2011. Note: User must select the "General" category as the genre under the search feature.
- "Grammy Awards: Album of the Year". Rock on the Net. Retrieved July 12, 2010.