Here’s the Difference Between Record, Song, and Album of the Year at the Grammys

Hannah Chambers
Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Sure, the Grammy Awards seem simple. Your favorite artists win some hardware for their best bops, and everyone wears sparkly outfits. But if you actually pay attention to the award categories, you’ll probs realize that it’s not so straightforward. There are three separate awards for the Record, Song, and Album of the Year, and TBH, it’s all kinds of confusing. Here is what those award categories actually mean.

Song of the Year

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This is definitely the most deceptively obvious award. It sounds like it just goes to the best jam of the year, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. Song of the Year is actually a songwriter award for the single or track that was released during the eligibility period, which for the 62nd Grammy Awards is October 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019. This year’s nominees include:

  • “Always Remember Us This Way,” by Lady Gaga
  • “Bad Guy,” by Billie Eilish
  • “Bring My Flowers Now,” by Tanya Tucker
  • “Hard Place,” by H.E.R.
  • “Lover,” by Taylor Swift
  • “Norman F***ing Rockwell,” by Lana Del Rey
  • “Someone You Loved,” by Lewis Capaldi
  • “Truth Hurts,” by Lizzo

P.S. Although “Truth Hurts” was originally released in 2017, it’s still eligible because it “achieved prominence” during the eligibility year. Wild!

Record of the Year

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At the Grammys, a record is not a vinyl you bought at Urban Outfitters and have yet to actually play. Here, “record” means a single track. This award honors the artist for their performance and the work of the producers, recording engineers, mastering engineers, and mixers. These are the records nominated this year:

  • “Hey, Ma,” by Bon Iver
  • “Bad Guy,” by Billie Eilish
  • “7 Rings,” by Ariana Grande
  • “Hard Place,” by H.E.R.
  • “Talk,” by Khalid
  • “Old Town Road,” by Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
  • “Truth Hurts,” by Lizzo
  • “Sunflower,” by Post Malone and Swae Lee

Album of the Year

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Album of the Year is the award for a whole-ass album. To be eligible, it has to have at least five new full songs and be 15 minutes long or be 30 minutes long, with as many damn tracks as it wants. The award goes to artist as well as any featured artists, songwriters, producers, engineers, and mixers. Here are the albums in the running:

  • “I, I,” by Bon Iver
  • “Norman F***ing Rockwell!,” by Lana Del Ray
  • “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?,” by Billie Eilish
  • “Thank U, Next,” by Ariana Grande
  • “I Used to Know Her,” by H.E.R.
  • “7,” by Lil Nas X
  • “Cuz I Love You (Deluxe),” by Lizzo
  • “Father of the Bride,” by Vampire Weekend

To sum it all up...

Song of the Year is for the writing of a single track. Record of the Year is for the performance and production of a single track. Album of the Year is for a full album.

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