The Grammy Award for Song of the Year is one of the most prestigious awards in the music industry, akin to a movie winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Song of the Year is one of just four Grammy Award categories in which different music genres compete against each other for one prize. The award will be presented at the 61st Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 10.
The award, which has been presented since 1959, is given only to the composer or composers of the song. This is not to be confused with Record of the Year, which is awarded to the performer and production team of the song. In the history of the Grammy Awards, 29 of the winning songs have also been chosen as Record of the Year. This year, eight songs were nominated for Song of the Year, up from five in previous years.
The history of Song of the Year reflects the evolution of music culture. Early Song of the Year winners were from motion pictures such as “The Theme from Exodus,” “Moon River” for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and “Hello, Dolly!” Rock ‘n’ roll would get recognized in the mid-’60s, when John Lennon and Paul McCartney would win for the ballad “Michelle.” Singer-songwriters Paul Simon and Carole King would be cited as the 1970s began, indicative of the shift in pop-culture music tastes. Songs from hip-hop artists such as Drake, who is also among the best-selling Grammy winners of all time, Kendrick Lamar, and Childish Gambino are among this year’s nominees, reflecting the popularity of that genre. Lamar has the most overall Grammy nominations with eight.
In recognition of the music industry’s big night, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled a list of every Song of the Year. (If there were a Gammy award for the best comeback, these artists would win it.)