Of all the categories at the Grammys, Song of the Year is perhaps the one that most people don’t quite understand. “What’s the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year?” is a question that comes up a lot when talking about the biggest prizes in music, but the distinction is fairly simple.
Record of the Year is awarded to what is deemed the best complete product, while Song of the Year goes to the best-written song. It’s about the words and how they work in the piece, not necessarily the single overall.
As was the case with Record of the Year, ‘Shallow’ sounds too perfectly like the kind of song Grammy voters rush to choose when ballots are shared. It ticks so many boxes, it’s tough to see Lady Gaga not walking away with this trophy. She’s been nominated in this vertical before (for Poker Face), but she’s never won, and her time has come. In the decade since she first broke out and earned a spot in the Song of the Year category, Gaga has established herself as one of the most talented songwriters in the music industry, and now that she’s lent her talents to an adult contemporary-style tune, she may rack up quite a few accolades, including this Grammy and even an Oscar.
‘Shallow’ isn’t the best-written song on the list of nominees, though it will likely win. Ella Mai’s ‘Boo’d Up’ was a major hit, and while Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Joke’ was a shocking inclusion this time around, it’s beautifully penned, and if it won it would make for an upset that, somehow, still makes sense.