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Grammy Award for Song of the Year facts for kids

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Grammy Award for Song of the Year
Awarded for Quality song containing both lyrics and melody
Presented by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
Country United States
First awarded 1959
Currently held by Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell - "Bad Guy" (2020)

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:

to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.

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).

Thirty-one of the winning songs have also won the award for Record of the Year.

The category will expand 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 (1962 and 1964), Johnny Mercer (1962 and 1964), James Horner (1988 and 1999), Will Jennings (1993 and 1999), U2 (2001 and 2006), and Adele (2012 and 2017), winning two times each. However, songs written for Andy Williams, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, and Roberta Flack have received this award twice.

Christopher Cross and Billie Eilish are the only artists to receive the Grammys for Song of the Year as well as for Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist in one ceremony. Adele is the first artist to receive the award for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Best New Artist, and Album of the Year, nonconsecutively, 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 (1981), Alicia Keys (2002), Amy Winehouse (2008), Fun (2013), Sam Smith (2015) and Billie Eilish (2020); Marvin Hamlisch is only composer to win the Song of the Year and Best New Artist awards the same year in 1975.

With four nominations, Marilyn Bergman and Taylor Swift are the most nominated female songwriters in the history of the award.

The first woman to win the award was Carole King in 1972, for "You've Got a Friend". Adele was the first female artist to win the award twice, winning for "Rolling in the Deep" and "Hello".

The song "Volare", winner in 1959 by Domenico Modugno and performed in Italian, is the only foreign-language song to win this award, although the 1967 winner "Michelle" by The Beatles has a critical part of its lyrics in French.

The song "Theme of Exodus", winner in 1961 by Ernest Gold is the only instrumental song to ever receive this award.

Since creation of this category, no songwriter has won Song of the Year twice in a row.


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.
Year Winner(s) Nationality Work Performing artist(s) Nominees Ref.
1959 Domenico Modugno  Italy "Volare" * Domenico Modugno
  • Paul Vance & Lee Pockriss for "Catch a Falling Star" performed by Perry Como
  • John Davenport & Eddie Cooley for "Fever" performed by Peggy Lee
  • Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe for "Theme to Gigi" performed by Various Artists
  • Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh for "Witchcraft" performed by Frank Sinatra
1960 Jimmy Driftwood  United States "The Battle of New Orleans" Johnny Horton
1961 Ernest Gold  United States
"Theme of Exodus" Instrumental
(Various Artists)
1962 Henry Mancini
Johnny Mercer
 United States "Moon River" * Henry Mancini
  • Jimmy Dean for "Big Bad John" performed by Jimmy Dean
  • Hank Cochran for "A Little Bitty Tear" performed by Burl Ives
  • Tony Velona for "Lollipops and Roses" performed by Jack Jones
  • Jule Styne, Betty Comden & Adolph Green for "Make Someone Happy" performed by Various Artists
1963 Leslie Bricusse
Anthony Newley
 United Kingdom "What Kind of Fool Am I?" Sammy Davis Jr.
  • Lionel Bart for "As Long as He Needs Me" performed by Shirley Bassey
  • Douglas Cross & George Cory for "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" performed by Tony Bennett
  • John Kander & Fred Ebb for "My Coloring Book" performed by Sandy Stewart
  • Richard Rodgers for "The Sweetest Sounds" performed by Various Artists
1964 Henry Mancini
Johnny Mercer
 United States "Days of Wine and Roses" * Henry Mancini
  • Sammy Cahn & Jimmy Van Heusen for "Call Me Irresponsible" performed by Frank Sinatra
  • Sacha Distel & Jack Reardon for "The Good Life" performed by Tony Bennett
  • Sadie Vimmerstedt & Johnny Mercer for "I Wanna Be Around" performed by Tony Bennett
  • Burt Bacharach & Hal David for "Wives and Lovers" performed by Jack Jones
1965 Jerry Herman  United States "Hello, Dolly!" Louis Armstrong
1966 Paul Francis Webster
Johnny Mandel
 United States "The Shadow of Your Smile" Tony Bennett
1967 John Lennon
Paul McCartney
 United Kingdom "Michelle" The Beatles
  • John Barry & Don Black for "Born Free" performed by Andy Williams
  • Mitch Leigh & Joe Darion for "The Impossible Dream" performed by Richard Kiley
  • Paul Francis Webster & Maurice Jarre for "Somewhere, My Love" performed by Ray Conniff
  • Bert Kaempfert, Charles Singleton & Eddie Snyder for "Strangers in the Night" performed by Frank Sinatra
1968 Jimmy Webb  United States "Up, Up, and Away" * The 5th Dimension
  • Jimmy Webb for "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" performed by Glen Campbell
  • Tom Jones & Harvey Schmidt for "My Cup Runneth Over" performed by Ed Ames
  • Bobbie Gentry for "Ode to Billie Joe" performed by Bobbie Gentry
  • John Hartford for "Gentle on My Mind" performed by Glen Campbell
1969 Bobby Russell  United States "Little Green Apples" O. C. Smith
1970 Joe South  United States "Games People Play" Joe South
  • Larry Kusik, Eddie Snyder & Nino Rota for "A Time For Us" performed by Henry Mancini
  • David Clayton-Thomas for "Spinning Wheel" performed by Blood, Sweat & Tears
  • Burt Bacharach & Hal David for "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" performed by Dionne Warwick
  • Burt Bacharach & Hal David for "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" performed by B. J. Thomas
1971 Paul Simon  United States "Bridge over Troubled Water" * Simon & Garfunkel
1972 Carole King  United States "You've Got a Friend" James Taylor & Carole King
1973 Ewan MacColl  United Kingdom "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" * Roberta Flack
1974 Norman Gimbel
Charles Fox
 United States "Killing Me Softly with His Song" * Roberta Flack
  • Kenny O'Dell for "Behind Closed Doors" performed by Charlie Rich
  • Stevie Wonder for "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" performed by Stevie Wonder
  • Carly Simon for "You're So Vain" performed by Carly Simon
  • Irwin Levine & L. Russell Brown for "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" performed by Dawn featuring Tony Orlando
1975 Alan and Marilyn Bergman
Marvin Hamlisch
 United States "The Way We Were" Barbra Streisand
1976 Stephen Sondheim  United States "Send in the Clowns" Judy Collins
1977 Bruce Johnston  United States "I Write the Songs" Barry Manilow
1978 Barbra Streisand
Paul Williams /
Joe Brooks (Tie)
 United States "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)" /
"You Light Up My Life" (Tie)
Barbra Streisand /
Debby Boone
1979 Billy Joel  United States "Just the Way You Are" * Billy Joel
1980 Kenny Loggins
Michael McDonald
 United States "What a Fool Believes" * The Doobie Brothers
  • David Foster, Jay Graydon & Bill Champlin for "After the Love Has Gone" performed by Earth, Wind & Fire
  • Rickie Lee Jones for "Chuck E.'s in Love" performed by Rickie Lee Jones
  • Billy Joel for "Honesty" performed by Billy Joel
  • Dino Fekaris & Freddie Perren for "I Will Survive" performed by Gloria Gaynor
  • Lester Abrams & Michael McDonald for "Minute by Minute" performed by The Doobie Brothers
  • Dino Fekaris & Freddie Perren for "Reunited" performed by Peaches & Herb
  • Steve Gibb for "She Believes in Me" performed by Kenny Rogers
1981 Christopher Cross  United States "Sailing" * Christopher Cross
1982 Donna Weiss
Jackie DeShannon
 United States "Bette Davis Eyes" * Kim Carnes
1983 Johnny Christopher
Mark James
Wayne Carson
 United States "Always on My Mind" Willie Nelson
  • Paul McCartney for "Ebony and Ivory" performed by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder
  • David Paich for "Rosanna" performed by Toto
  • Frankie Sullivan & Jim Peterik for "Eye of the Tiger" performed by Survivor
  • Donald Fagen for "I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)" performed by Donald Fagen
1984 Sting  United Kingdom "Every Breath You Take" The Police
1985 Graham Lyle
Terry Britten
 United Kingdom
"What's Love Got to Do with It" * Tina Turner
1986 Michael Jackson
Lionel Richie
 United States "We Are the World" * USA for Africa
1987 Burt Bacharach
Carole Bayer Sager
 United States "That's What Friends Are For" Dionne Warwick & Friends (Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder)
1988 James Horner
Barry Mann
Cynthia Weil
 United States "Somewhere Out There" Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
1989 Bobby McFerrin  United States "Don't Worry, Be Happy" * Bobby McFerrin
1990 Larry Henley
Jeff Silbar
 United States "Wind Beneath My Wings" * Bette Midler
1991 Julie Gold  United States "From a Distance" Bette Midler
1992 Irving Gordon  United States "Unforgettable" * Natalie Cole with Nat King Cole
1993 Eric Clapton
Will Jennings
 United Kingdom
 United States
"Tears in Heaven" * Eric Clapton
1994 Alan Menken
Tim Rice
 United States
 United Kingdom
"A Whole New World" Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
1995 Bruce Springsteen  United States "Streets of Philadelphia" Bruce Springsteen
1996 Seal  United Kingdom "Kiss from a Rose" * Seal
1997 Gordon Kennedy
Wayne Kirkpatrick
Tommy Sims
 United States "Change the World" * Eric Clapton
1998 Shawn Colvin
John Leventhal
 United States "Sunny Came Home" * Shawn Colvin
1999 James Horner
Will Jennings
 United States "My Heart Will Go On" * Celine Dion
  • Diane Warren for "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" performed by Aerosmith
  • John Rzeznik for "Iris" performed by The Goo Goo Dolls
  • Kirk Franklin for "Lean on Me" performed by Kirk Franklin
  • Robert Lange & Shania Twain for "You're Still the One" performed by Shania Twain
2000 Itaal Shur
Rob Thomas
 United States "Smooth" * Santana featuring Rob Thomas
  • Andreas Carlsson & Max Martin for "I Want It That Way" performed by Backstreet Boys
  • Desmond Child & Robi Dräco Rosa for "Livin' la Vida Loca" performed by Ricky Martin
  • Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins & Dallas Austin for "Unpretty" performed by TLC
  • Shania Twain & Robert Lange for "You've Got a Way" performed by Shania Twain
2001 Adam Clayton
David Evans
Larry Mullen Jr.
Paul Hewson
 Ireland "Beautiful Day" * U2
2002 Alicia Keys  United States "Fallin'" Alicia Keys
  • India.Arie, Carlos "Six July" Broady & Shannon Sanders for "Video" performed by India.Arie
  • Charlie Colin, Rob Hotchkiss, Patrick Monahan, Jimmy Stafford & Scott Underwood for "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" performed by Train
  • Adam Clayton, David Evans, Larry Mullen, Jr. & Paul Hewson for "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" performed by U2
  • Nelly Furtado for "I'm Like a Bird" performed by Nelly Furtado
2003 Jesse Harris  United States "Don't Know Why" * Norah Jones
2004 Richard Marx
Luther Vandross
 United States "Dance with My Father" Luther Vandross
2005 John Mayer  United States "Daughters" John Mayer
2006 Adam Clayton
David Evans
Larry Mullen Jr.
Paul Hewson
 Ireland "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" U2
2007 Emily Robison
Martie Maguire
Natalie Maines
Dan Wilson
 United States "Not Ready to Make Nice" * Dixie Chicks
  • Johnta Austin, Mary J. Blige, Bryan-Michael Cox & Jason Perry for "Be Without You" performed by Mary J. Blige
  • James Blunt, Amanda Ghost & Sacha Skarbek for "You're Beautiful" performed by James Blunt
  • John Beck, Steve Chrisanthou & Corinne Bailey Rae for "Put Your Records On" performed by Corinne Bailey Rae
  • Brett James, Hillary Lindsey & Gordie Sampson for "Jesus, Take the Wheel" performed by Carrie Underwood
2008 Amy Winehouse  United Kingdom "Rehab" * Amy Winehouse
2009 Guy Berryman
Jonny Buckland
Will Champion
Chris Martin
 United Kingdom "Viva la Vida" Coldplay
2010 Thaddis Harrell
Beyoncé Knowles
Terius Nash
Christopher Stewart
 United States "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" Beyoncé
  • Lady Gaga & RedOne for "Poker Face" performed by Lady Gaga
  • Hod David & Musze for "Pretty Wings" performed by Maxwell
  • Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill for "Use Somebody" performed by Kings of Leon
  • Liz Rose & Taylor Swift for "You Belong with Me" performed by Taylor Swift
2011 Dave Haywood
Josh Kear
Charles Kelley
Hillary Scott
 United States "Need You Now" * Lady Antebellum
2012 Adele Adkins
Paul Epworth
 United Kingdom "Rolling in the Deep" * Adele
2013 Nate Ruess
Jack Antonoff
Jeff Bhasker
Andrew Dost
 United States "We Are Young" Fun featuring Janelle Monáe
2014 Joel Little
Ella Yelich-O'Connor
 New Zealand "Royals" Lorde
  • Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess for "Just Give Me a Reason" performed by Pink featuring Nate Ruess
  • Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars for "Locked Out of Heaven" performed by Bruno Mars
  • Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter for "Roar" performed by Katy Perry
  • Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis for "Same Love" performed by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
2015 James Napier
William Phillips
Sam Smith
 United Kingdom "Stay with Me" (Darkchild version) * Sam Smith
2016 Ed Sheeran
Amy Wadge
 United Kingdom "Thinking Out Loud" Ed Sheeran
2017 Adele Adkins
Greg Kurstin
 United Kingdom
 United States
"Hello" * Adele
2018 Christopher Brody Brown
James Fauntleroy
Philip Lawrence
Bruno Mars
Ray Charles McCullough II
Jeremy Reeves
Ray Romulus
Jonathan Yip
 United States "That's What I Like" Bruno Mars
2019 Donald Glover
Ludwig Göransson
Jeffery Lamar Williams
 United States
"This Is America" * Childish Gambino
2020 Billie Eilish O'Connell & Finneas O'Connell  United States "Bad Guy" * Billie Eilish
  • Natalie Hemby, Lady Gaga, Hillary Lindsey & Lori McKenna for "Always Remember Us This Way" performed by Lady Gaga
  • Brandi Carlile, Phil Hanseroth, Tim Hanseroth & Tanya Tucker for "Bring My Flowers Now" performed by Tanya Tucker
  • Ruby Amanfu, Sam Ashworth, D. Arcelious Harris, H.E.R. & Rodney Jerkins for "Hard Place" performed by H.E.R.
  • Taylor Swift for "Lover" performed by Taylor Swift
  • Jack Antonoff & Lana Del Rey for "Norman Rockwell" performed by Lana Del Rey
  • Tom Barnes, Lewis Capaldi, Pete Kelleher, Benjamin Kohn & Sam Roman "Someone You Loved" performed by Lewis Capaldi
  • Steven Cheung, Eric Frederic, Melissa Jefferson & Jesse Saint John for "Truth Hurts" performed by Lizzo
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