GRAMMY CHEW: RUMINATING ON SONG OF THE YEAR

While Academy peeps are at pains to remind us that this is a songwriter’s award, SOTY and ROTY are often regarded as somewhat interchangeable—you’ll note that five of the most high-profile nominees are in both categories. But the differences are noteworthy.

“All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)”: It’s rather shocking that songwriter supreme Taylor Swift has never won this trophy. She seems to be the front-runner this time, though, thanks to her incredibly ambitious reworking of a song (crafted with esteemed tunesmith Liz Rose) from 2012’s Red. Tay’s performance of this sprawling reboot on SNL was one of the most riveting musical moments of the year. She’s earned this.

“BREAK MY SOUL”: Beyoncé co-penned this defiant club jam with the all-star team of JAY-Z, The-Dream and Tricky Stewart, and it exemplifies the creative fire and thematic depth of her RENAISSANCE project. It’s certainly possible that Grammy could decide to anoint Queen Bey in the Big 3.

“Easy on Me”: This sumptuous pop ballad of heartbreak and loss (which Adele composed with Greg Kurstin) has already won BRIT and Juno trophies for Song of the Year and dominated the DSPs. Grammy love for Adele still abounds, as evidenced by her fleet of noms; she took AOTY, ROTY and SOTY in 2012 and 2017. Could she threepeat?

“As It Was”: Harry Styles was assisted by trusted co-writers Tyler Johnson and Kid Harpoon on this giant, which continues to occupy a high berth on most every chart that matters. One reason for its incredible longevity: It addresses post-pandemic disconnection, loneliness and yearning head-on. Harry’s global star power burns brightly, even in this very tough field.

“The Heart Part 5”: The nomination of this intense, affecting Kendrick Lamar cut acknowledges not only the brilliant rapper’s reach and profundity as a lyricist but also the complex melodic and rhythmic structure he created with co-writers Jake and Johnny Kosich and Matt Schaeffer. Few rap songs have taken this trophy. Then again, how many rappers have won a Pulitzer?

“Bad Habit”: Steve Lacy broke through big-time with this smash, which he co-wrote with Matthew Castellanos, Brittany Fousheé, Diana Gordon and John Carroll Kirby. Blending quirky alternative-pop vibes and auteur R&B, it’s at once an appealing musical confection and an affectingly honest song about romantic confusion.

“About Damn Time”: Grammy loves Lizzo, who’s in the running for AOTY, ROTY, SOTY and a couple of pop categories this time out. The singer-rapper-musician co-wrote this rollicking neo-disco empowerment anthem with Eric Frederic, Blake Slatkin and Theron Makiel Thomas. Might her pop-cultural pull give her an edge here?

“GOD DID”: A typically star-studded affair from producer-impresario DJ Khaled, this rap-soul jam featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, JAY-Z, John Legend and Fridayy was co-written by the aforementioned with Tarik Azzouz, E. Blackmon and Nicholas Warwar. Could its message about overcoming adversity (and impressive guest list) turn Grammy heads?

“Just Like That”: The legendary Bonnie Raitt is the only solo songwriter in this list, and this bare-bones acoustic tale of loss is a moving, if low-key, demonstration of her prodigious gifts. If Grammy wants to bestow this trophy as a career achievement award, she’d be the obvious choice.

“abcdefu”: This alterna-pop kiss-off by GAYLE is pretty cathartic (she co-wrote it with Sara Davis and Dave Pittenger). Given Grammy’s penchant for positivity, though, it’s hard to imagine this profane screed defeating its high-powered, heart-on-sleeve competition. Then again, (much) stranger things have happened.

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