SONG OF THE YEAR
Fred Gibson, Johnny McDaid,
Over the course of his career, Sheeran has appeared in the song of the year category as a folk-leaning troubadour (with “The A Team” in 2013), a master balladeer (with “Thinking Out Loud,” which won in 2016) and as a pop star collaborator (with Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” in 2017). With “Bad Habits,” he enters the race as a stadiumconquering superstar with a strong interest in dance music. The British singer-songwriter co-wrote the lead single to his fourth solo studio album,
=, with Johnny McDaid, who contributed to Sheeran’s 2017 smash “Shape of You,” and
Fred Gibson, who worked closely with Sheeran on 2019’s No.6 Collaborations Project. The song of the year nod for “Bad Habits,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, represents the lone nomination this year for Sheeran, a fourtime Grammy winner.
Ruby Amanfu, Brandi Carlile,
Brandy Clark, Alicia Keys, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Linda Perry, Hailey Whitters LABEL
Days before the 2020 election, Keys and Carlile joined forces for “A Beautiful Noise,” a soulful piano ballad that encouraged listeners to use their voices at the ballot box. Over a year later, the collaboration has become Carlile’s second song of the year entry at the upcoming Grammys and Keys’ first appearance in the category in 17 years. “A Beautiful Noise” — which includes contributions from songwriters Ruby Amanfu, Brandy Clark, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Linda Perry and Hailey Whitters, along with its two artists — was included on a reissue of Keys’ 2020 album, Alicia, following its premiere on the CBS special Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy. Keys, who won song of the year at the 2002 Grammys with her debut smash, “Fallin’,” is also nominated in the best immersive audio album category for Alicia, while Carlile scored four other nominations this year.
LICENSE” OLIVIA RODRIGO
Daniel Nigro, Olivia Rodrigo
In 2021, Rodrigo scored five top 20 hits on the Hot 100 from her debut album, Sour, including a pair of charttoppers. Yet her first entry, “drivers license,” remains her biggest hit to date, an emotional gut punch that spent eight straight weeks atop the chart. Co-written with producer Dan Nigro, “drivers license” invited tabloid speculation about the subject of the postbreakup track, as well as the identity of the rival “blonde girl” referenced in the lyrics. Rodrigo has remained mum on specifics, but the guessing game became a talking point as the single crossed over to pop radio and dominated streaming platforms. Although “drivers license” is nominated for three Grammys, Rodrigo’s other No. 1 single, “good 4 u,” also scored a nod for best music video, and Sour will compete for album of the year and best pop vocal album.
“FIGHT FOR YOU”
Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II, H.E.R.,
For the third consecutive year, a track performed by H.E.R. is nominated for song of the year. Following last year’s win for “I Can’t Breathe,” that song’s three writers — Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II, H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas — are trying to make history with back-to-back victories, which would be a first in the category. H.E.R. teamed with D’Mile and Thomas for “Fight for You” as part of the music from the Academy
Award best picture nominee Judas and the Black Messiah, and the soul single ultimately won the Oscar for best original song. Although neither “I Can’t Breathe” nor “Fight for You” made H.E.R.’s 2021 full-length, Back of My Mind, the project still scored another album of the year nod for the R&B star, the third of her career. D’Mile also appears in this category as a co-writer on Silk Sonic’s chart-topping hit “Leave the Door Open.”
“HAPPIER THAN EVER”
SONGWRITERS Billie Eilish O’Connell, Finneas O’Connell
Since Eilish swept the Big Four categories at the 2020 Grammys, becoming just the second artist to do so in the awards’ history, her accolades have only grown: The teen superstar scored four more nominations and two more wins the following year, and now returns with seven more nods, bringing her career total to 17. “Happier Than Ever” marks her third straight song of the year nod, following “bad guy” and “Everything I Wanted”; like those two hits, the title track to Happier Than Ever was co-written with Eilish’s older brother, Finneas O’Connell, and unlike her previous nominees, “Happier Than Ever” is divided into two parts over an extended run time, with a gentle acoustic track giving way to a furious rock anthem. Eilish and O’Connell will once again compete in the category against Dernst “D’Mile” Emile II, H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas, whose “I Can’t Breathe” triumphed over “Everything I Wanted” at last year’s ceremony... one year after Eilish’s “bad guy” bested H.E.R.’s “Hard Place.”