Jay-Z is the most nominated artist at the Grammys this year with eight bids including Song of the Year for “4:44,” the title track from his critically acclaimed album. He was nominated for Song of the Year once before, for co-writing Rihanna‘s “Umbrella” (2008) on which he was a featured artist. But not many of our users think he has a shot in the top songwriting race this year. As of this writing he ranks last with 7/1 odds. But the history of this category shows that he may be more of a threat than we think.
It’s true that the recording academy doesn’t like to vote for rap music if they can help it. No rap song has ever won Record or Song of the Year, and only one rap album has ever won Album of the Year. But the Song of the Year race has another historical bias that actually helps Jay-Z: voters tend to prefer songs with fewer writers. In fact, no song has ever won Song of the Year with more than four writers, and this year “4:44” is the only Song of the Year nominee with fewer than five.
“4:44” has two writers: Jay-Z and Dion Wilson. Three of the last four winners also had two writers: “Royals” in 2014 (Lorde and Joel Little), “Thinking Out Loud” in 2016 (Ed Sheeran and Amy Wadge), and “Hello” in 2017 (Adele and Greg Kurstin). The other four nominees this year have much larger teams of writers.
“1-800-273-8255” is the current frontrunner with 3/2 odds, but it has five writers: Logic, Alessia Cara, Khalid, Arjun Ivatury, and Andrew Taggart.
Ranked second with 13/5 odds is the Spanish-language crossover hit “Despacito,” with six writers: Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee, Justin Bieber, Jason Boyd, Erika Ender, and Marty James Garton Jr.
“That’s What I Like” is close behind with 3/1 odds for its army of eight songwriters: Bruno Mars, Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus, and Jonathan Yip.
And “Issues” ranks fourth with 11/2 odds and five writers: Julia Michaels, Benny Blanco, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, and Justin Drew Tranter.
Will too many cooks spoil the broth for those four songs? Perhaps the recording academy will make a rare exception since four of the last 10 Song of the Year winners had four writers: “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay (2009), “Single Ladies” by Beyonce (2010), “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum (2011), and “We Are Young” by Fun (2013), but in each case except for Beyonce those were songs by bands that were written by their individually credited band members.
Do you think this makes Jay-Z the frontrunner, or will this year be an exception to the rule against multiple songwriters?
Be sure to make your Grammy predictions so that Hollywood record executives and top name stars can see how their songs and albums are faring in our Grammy odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on January 28. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Grammys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our music forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.