What’s The Difference Between Record of the Year and Song of the Year? 2 Of The Biggest Grammy Categories Explained

If you have watched the entire Grammy Awards ceremony, you might be wondering why there were two different awards for the same songs, the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year.

In recent years, the majority of nominations have not been limited to a single genre, as the General Fields of the show awards are not constricted. Adele was the first woman artist to achieve the feat, winning all four General Field awards in the same year: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist. Christopher Cross and Billie Eilish are two artists who have also achieved this Four Big feat. Otherwise known as the Big Four, they are considered the most prestigious awards in the music business and are always presented near the end of the ceremony. The Grammys have been giving awards in these distinct categories since the first-ever Grammy Awards ceremony in 1959.

So what exactly is the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year? Read more below to find out.

Record of the Year Grammys
Image: Steve Granitz/WireImage

The accolade was bestowed upon the artist, producer, recording technician, and sound technician thereafter. From 1966 to 1988, the prize was given to the artist and the producer(s) of the track. In the initial years, only the artist of the track received the honor. However, this was not always the scenario. The focus of the award is entirely distinct from the songwriting and recognition of those accountable for the mixing, production, and engineering of the track, not its composition or an album of tracks. The name originates from the “recording” of a track. The Grammy Award for Record of the Year is presented to the producers, technicians, and performers of a nominated track.

Tom Coyne, who is the individual with the highest number of victories in the category, attained the award successively from 2015 to 2018 as a mastering engineer. Paul Simon and Bruno Mars, as artists, have each won the award on three occasions, while Beyoncé holds the record for the most nominations for Record of the Year. Presently, the category nominates ten songs every year, following the inclusion of mastering engineers as recipients by the Recording Academy in 2013 during the 65th Annual Grammy Awards.

Track of the Year

Song of The Year
Image: Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

For a song to be eligible for nomination, it must have been released on a recording or gained prominence for the first time during the nomination process. The award is given based on the actual composition of the song, including its lyrics and melodies, rather than the recording itself. The songwriter responsible for composing the song receives the Song of the Year Grammy Award.

The nominations for Mars Bruno and Mancini Henry tied for the most wins. The Edge, Bono, Adele, and several other musicians have nominations for the Song of the Year. Taylor Swift and Lionel Richie have the most nominations for the Non-Classical Songwriter of the Year award. The Recording Academy made another inaugural award for the Academy’s Songwriter of the Year. Currently, the Grammy Awards nominates ten songs in each category every year. The songs that include an interpolation sample are not eligible to be nominated according to the rules of the award.

Songs that were awarded Record of the Year and Song of the Year

Record of the Year, Song of the Year
Image: Dan MacMedan/WireImage

Songs from the list won Record of the Year and Song of the Year. It’s not uncommon for a hit song to win both Song of the Year and Record of the Year in the same year.

  • 1959: “In the blue, painted blue” by Domenico Modugno (Written by Domenico Modugno and Franco Migliacci).
  • 1962: “Moon River” composed by Henry Mancini (Written by Henry Mancini, Produced by Dick Peirce, Joe Reisman).
  • 1964: “Days of Wine and Roses” composed by Henry Mancini (Written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, Produced by Robert Mersey).
  • 1968: “Up, Up, and Away” by the 5th Dimension (Written by Jimmy Webb, Produced by Johnny Rivers and Marc Gordon).
  • 1971: “Bridge over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel (Authored by Paul Simon, Produced by Roy Halee, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel).
  • 1974: “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack (Authored and Produced by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox).
  • 1980: “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers (Penned by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, Created by Ted Templeman).
  • 1981: “Voyaging” by Christopher Cross (Written by Christopher Cross, Produced by Michael Omartian).
  • 1982: “Bette Davis Eyes” performed by Kim Carnes (Written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, Produced by Val Garay).
  • 1985: “What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner (Written by Graham Lyle and Terry Britten, Produced by Terry Britten).
  • “We Are The World” was created in 1986 by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian, with lyrics penned by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, for the USA for Africa initiative.
  • 1989: “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin (Composed by Bobby McFerrin, Produced by Linda Goldstein).
  • 1990: “Wind Beneath My Wings” performed by Bette Midler (Written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar, Produced by Arif Mardin).
  • 1992: “Memorable” by Natalie Cole (with Nat King Cole) (Written by Irving Gordon, Produced by David Foster).
  • 1993: “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton (Composed by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, Produced by Russ Titelman.
  • 1996: “Embrace from a Rose” by Seal (Authored by Seal, Created by Trevor Horn).
  • In 1997, Eric Clapton released “Change the World” (composed by Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Tommy Sims, produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds).
  • In 1998, Shawn Colvin released the track “Sunny Came Home”. The composition was penned by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal, while John Leventhal took on the role of producer.
  • In 1999, the song “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion was produced by Walter Afanasieff, James Horner, and Simon Franglen. It was written by James Horner and Will Jennings.
  • In the year 2000, “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas (Written by Itaal Shur and Rob Thomas, Produced by Matt Serletic).
  • 2001: “Stunning Day” by U2 (Written by U2, Produced by Daniel Lanois, Brian Eno and Steve Lillywhite).
  • 2003: “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones (Written by Jesse Harris, Produced by Norah Jones, Arif Mardin, and Jay Newland).
  • 2007: “Not Ready to Make Nice” by The Chicks (Written by The Chicks and Dan Wilson, Produced by Rick Rubin).
  • 2008: “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse (Authored by Amy Winehouse, Created by Mark Ronson).
  • 2011: “Require You Now” by Lady A (Authored by Lady A and Josh Kear, Produced by Lady A and Paul Worley).
  • 2012: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele (Authored by Adele and Paul Epworth, Produced by Paul Epworth).
  • In 2015, “Stay With Me” was produced by Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes, and Steve Fitzmaurice, with James Napier, William Phillips, and Sam Smith credited as the songwriters.
  • 2017: “Greetings” by Adele (Written by Adele and Greg Kurstin, Produced by Greg Kurstin).
  • In 2019, “This Is America” was written by Childish Gambino and produced by Donald Glover, Ludwig Göransson, and Jeffrey Lamar Williams.
  • 2020: “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, (Authored by Billie Eilish and Finneas, Produced by Finneas).
  • “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic, composed by Bruno Mars, Brandon Anderson, Dernst Emile II, and Christopher Brody Brown, and produced by Bruno Mars and D’Mille, will be released in 2022.