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

Song of the Year, Record of the Year
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If you’ve watched a whole Grammy Awards ceremony, you might be wondering why there were two different awards for most likely the same songs. The Record of The Year and Song of the Year difference is actually pretty simple.

The Grammys have given awards in these distinct categories since the first-ever Grammy Awards ceremony in 1959, along with Album of the Year. These three awards, along with Best New Artist, are always presented near the end of the ceremony and are known to be the most prestigious awards in the music business. They’re otherwise known as the Big Four. Billie Eilish and Christopher Cross are two artists who won all four General Field awards, Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year in the same year. Adele was the first woman artist to achieve the feat but won them during different years. The awards aren’t constricted to a single genre as they are the General Fields of the awards show but in recent years, a majority of the nominations have been from the pop category.

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

What is the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year?

Record of the Year

Record of the Year Grammys

Image: Steve Granitz/WireImage

The Record of the Year Grammy Award is awarded to the producers, engineers and performers of a nominated song. The name derives from the “recording” of a song. The subject of the award is entirely different from the songwriting and awards those responsible for the mixing, production and engineering of the song, not its composition or an album of songs. However, this wasn’t always the case. During the first couple of years, the award was only honored to the artist of the song. From 1966 to 1988, the award went to the artist and the producer(s) of the song. From there on afterward, the artist, producer, recording engineer and mixing engineer were recipients of the award.

In 2013, the Recording Academy added the mastering engineer as a recipient as well. Per the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, the category currently nominates ten songs each year. Beyoncé is the artist with the most Record of the Year nominations, with Paul Simon and Bruno Mars winning the award three times as an artist. The person with the most wins in the category is mastering engineer Tom Coyne who won the award consecutively from 2015 to 2018.

Song of the Year

Song of The Year

Image: Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The Song of the Year Grammy Award is awarded to the songwriter who composed the song. The award isn’t awarded for the recording of the song, but for the actual song composition with the lyrics and melodies. For a song to be eligible for a nomination, the song must have been released on a recording for the first time, or achieved prominence for the first time, during the nomination process.

Per the rules of the award, songs that include a sample of interpolation are not eligible to be nominated. For the 65th Annual Grammy Awards, the category currently nominates ten songs each year and the Recording Academy made another inaugural award for Songwriter of the Year, Non-Classical. Paul McCartney, Lionel Richie & Taylor Swift have the most Song of the Year nominations, with several musicians like Adele, Bono, The Edge, Henry Mancini and Bruno Mars tied for most wins at two.

Songs that won Record of the Year and Song of the Year

Record of the Year, Song of the Year

Image: Dan MacMedan/WireImage

It’s not uncommon for a hit song to win both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Here’s a list of songs that won Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

  • 1959: “Nel blu, dipinto di blu” by Domenico Modugno (Written by Domenico Modugno and Franco Migliacci)
  • 1962: “Moon River” by Henry Mancini (Written by Henry Mancini, Produced by Dick Peirce, Joe Reisman)
  • 1964: “Days of Wine and Roses” 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 (Written by Paul Simon, Produced by Roy Halee, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel)
  • 1974: “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack (Written and Produced by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox)
  • 1980: “What a Fool Believes” by The Doobie Brothers (Written by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald, Produced by Ted Templeman)
  • 1981: “Sailing” by Christopher Cross (Written by Christopher Cross, Produced by Michael Omartian)
  • 1982: “Bette Davis Eyes” 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)
  • 1986: “We Are The World” by USA for Africa (Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, Produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian)
  • 1989: “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin (Written by Bobby McFerrin, Produced by Linda Goldstein)
  • 1990: “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler (Written by Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar, Produced by Arif Mardin)
  • 1992: “Unforgettable” by Natalie Cole (with Nat King Cole) (Written by Irving Gordon, Produced by David Foster)
  • 1993: “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton (Written by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, Produced by Russ Titelman
  • 1996: “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal (Written by Seal, Produced by Trevor Horn)
  • 1997: “Change the World” by Eric Clapton (Written by Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims, Produced by  Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds”
  • 1998: “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin (Written by Shawn Colvin and John Leventhal, Produced by John Leventhal)
  • 1999: “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion (Written by James Horner and Will Jennings, Produced by Walter Afanasieff, James Horner and Simon Franglen)
  • 2000: “Smooth” by Santana featuring Rob Thomas (Written by Itaal Shur and Rob Thomas, Produced by Matt Serletic)
  • 2001: “Beautiful 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 (Written by Amy Winehouse, Produced by Mark Ronson)
  • 2011: “Need You Now”  by Lady A (Written by Lady A and Josh Kear, Produced by Lady A and Paul Worley)
  • 2012: “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele (Written by Adele and Paul Epworth, Produced by Paul Epworth)
  • 2015: “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith (Written by James Napier, William Phillips and Sam Smith, Produced by Sam Smith, Jimmy Napes and Steve Fitzmaurice)
  • 2017: “Hello” by Adele (Written by Adele and Greg Kurstin, Produced by Greg Kurstin)
  • 2019: “This Is America” by Childish Gambino (Written by Donald Glover, Ludwig Göransson and Jeffrey Lamar Williams, Produced by Donald Glover and Ludwig Göransson)
  • 2020: “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, (Written by Billie Eilish and Finneas, Produced by Finneas)
  • 2022: “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic (Written by Bruno Mars, Brandon Anderson, Dernst Emile II and Christopher Brody Brown, Produced by Bruno Mars and D’Mille)

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