Posted in 58th GRAMMYs, Song of the Year

58th GRAMMYs: Odds for Song of the Year

Image from Twitter @OnlyHipHopFacts
Image from Twitter @OnlyHipHopFacts

In less than a month the winners of the 58th GRAMMYs will be revealed. It is now time to take a look at the odds for Song of the Year also part of the “big four” categories in the general field.

Song of the Year is the award for the best song and it goes to the songwriter(s) only. There are songwriters’ awards in most of the fields: Rock, R&B, rap, country, American roots, Gospel/Christian music, and visual media (for those made for films, TV, etc…)

As you’ve noticed there is no “Best Pop Song” category. A few years ago Neil Portnow, President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, said Song of the Year (SOTY) was the reason why there was no Best Pop Song. This is to avoid multiple wins for the same work. Most of the winners and nominees in this category (and to a lesser extent in Record of the Year too) tend to be pop/top 40 songs. However between 1960 and 1971 there was a category lately known as “Best Contemporary Song” in the pop field.

This year three out of the five nominees are mainstream pop songs. And the category hasn’t been as diverse since 2012 when there were songs from three different genres.

Most of the time, the nominees come from Record of the Year (ROTY) but only “Blank Space” and “Thinking Out Loud” enjoy ROTY nods.

The winners for SOTY are difficult to predict. Ballads tend to prevail as winners and being a number-one hit is not a significant factor. The cultural impact of a song in a given year is what seems to be what voters like. But there’s been odd winners.

Let’s now take a look at the odds for each nominee. They are listed in order of likelihood of winning:

01. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback (Taylor Swift)

  • Field: Pop
  • Billboard Hot 100 peak: 1st (7 weeks)
  • GoldDerby odds: 1st (9/10)
  • GRAMMY record: Taylor Swift (7 wins/29 nods); Max Martin (1/16); Shellback (0)
  • Song also nominated for: Record of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance

“Blank Space” is an 80s-inspired synthpop song about Taylor’s relationships portrayals in the media. It is the front-runner among many pundits and predictors. Some claim this will be Taylor’s reward in the general field since she has stiffer competition in Album of the Year and ROTY.

This trio of songwriters are contending this category for the second year in a row. Last year they got in for “Shake it Off”. This is also Taylor Swift’s and Max Martin’s third attempt. Taylor, however, have won three songwriters’ awards: Best Country Song (2010, 2012) and Best Song Written for Visual Media (2013 for The Hunger Games theme “Safe & Sound”).

Following the current winning trend of number-one pop hits. “Blank Space” has the edge but it won’t be an easy win for Taylor. The next two songs also have high chances.

02. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, Mark Anthony Spears & Pharrell Williams (Kendrick Lamar)

  • Field: Rap
  • Billboard Hot 100 peak: #81
  • GoldDerby odds: 3rd (15/2)
  • GRAMMY record: Kendrick Lamar (2/20); Mark Anthony Spears (n/a); Pharrell Williams (10/32)
  • Song also nominated for: Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Music Video

“Alright”, according to Kendrick Lamar, is a song about hope and has become part of the Black Lives Matter movement.

All odds are against a win for “Alright”. A hip-hop song has never won before, it did not become a Top 40 or crossover hit and is not even nominated for ROTY. Since the year 2000, only three songs won this category without having a ROTY nomination but, what if the voters want to go for something more socially-charged and political?

It is certain that Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” win in 2007 was the result of the political impact that song generated. Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”, the 2010 winner, is considered a cultural phenomena of the 2000s. If there’s one song in this line-up that have created a cultural impact that is “Alright”.

Lamar won his first songwriters’ award last year for Best Rap Song for “i”. GRAMMYs’ darling and ten-time winner, Pharrell Williams won Best Rap Song in 2007 for Ludacris’ “Money Maker”.

“Alright” is the current winner of the Soul Train Award for Best Hip-Hop Song.

Don’t be surprise if you see Lamar and Williams taking the stage to receive the Song of the Year award for a hip-hop song for the very first time.

03. “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge (Ed Sheeran)

  • Field: Pop
  • Billboard Hot 100 peak: #2
  • GoldDerby odds: 2nd (10/3)
  • GRAMMY record: Ed Sheeran (0/10); Amy Wadge (first-time nominee)
  • Song also nominated for: Record of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance

“Thinking Out Loud” is a soft-rock ballad written to Sheeran’s then-girlfriend Athina Andrelos in which he promise his love until they are 70.

Despite being placed third among my predictions, many experts and forum posters predict that one of Taylor’s bestie could snatch the award away from her. Sheeran had been compared to former SOTY-winner, John Mayer and this simple ballad with live instrumentation could appeal the older/traditional voters.

Sheeran’s first nomination in 2012 came in this category for the socially-charged song “The A Team”. Last year he received a nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media for “I See Fire” from the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

04. “Girl Crush” by Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose (Little Big Town)

  • Field: Country
  • Billboard Hot 100 peak: #18
  • GoldDerby odds: 4th (14/1)
  • GRAMMY record: Hillary Lindsey (1 win); Lori McKenna (n/a); Liz Rose (1)
  • Song also nominated for: Best Country Duo/Group Performance, Best Country Song

“Girl Crush” is a blues-infused country song about one girl’s obsession with another. Despite what the title suggest it is not about a lesbian relationship. Apparently some radio stations threatened to or banned the song but, this appear to be just rumours. However, there are still some backwards radio stations in America.

“Girl Crush” is the first country song to compete for SOTY since “The House that Built Me” and the eventual winner “Need You Now” in 2011. This song could upset here and win over “Alright” and the other pop hits in the line-up.

If this happens, it’ll be a major surprise. Only three country songs have won SOTY: “Always in My Mind” (1983), “Not Ready to Make Nice” (2007) and “Need You Now” (2011) and they were all crossover-pop hits that made it to the top five of the Billboard Hot 100.

Two of the songwriters are former GRAMMY winners. Hillary Lindsey won Best Country Song in 2007 for Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and Liz Rose won in 2010 for Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen”. Both of them are contending this category for the second time. Lindsey in 2007 and Rose for “You Belong with Me” in 2010.

“Girl Crush” won Song of the Year at the CMA Awards last year.

05. “See You Again” by Andrew Cedar, DJ Frank E, Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa (Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth)

  • Field: Pop
  • Billboard Hot 100 peak: #1 (12 weeks)
  • GoldDerby odds: 5th (18/1)
  • GRAMMY record: Andrew Cedar (n/a); DJ Frank E (first-time nominee); Charlie Puth (first-time nominee); Wiz Khalifa (0/10)
  • Song also nominated for: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Song Written for Visual Media

“See You Again” is a pop-rap song and the main theme of the film Furious 7. It is an emotional farewell to late actor Paul Walker. The song was also one of the biggest hits of the year not only in North America but in the rest of the world.

Chances of winning for “See You Again” seem to be very slim. It is the first song from a movie to be nominated since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile in 2004. And though many film songs have won this category in the past, the last win dates back to 1994 with the Philadelphia theme “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen. On the other hand rap songs featuring pop singers seem to be gaining nods in recent years but they are yet to win.

Among the nominees only Wiz Khalifa holds previous GRAMMY nominations. The rapper has competed the Best Rap Song category thrice. This is his first attempt in the general field.

“See You Again” was nominated for Best Original Song at this year’s Golden Globes, it is in the running for Best Song at the Critic’s Choice Awards but missed the Oscar bid for Best Original Song.

So, who do you think is going to win the GRAMMY for Song of the Year? Vote in the poll below and leave your comments.

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