Grammy Awards

What do the different awards mean?

By Deane Barker

The Grammys have confusing award names. They’re named in a way that might have made sense 50 years ago, but doesn’t make sense today.

There are four “general” Grammy Awards, meaning those open to any genre of music. One of them is “Best New Artist,” which is self-explanatory and appropriately named.

But the other three cause confusion:

  • Album of the Year: This is accurate, as it refers to best album of the year, where “album” means “collection of music released as a thematic whole” (quoted passage mine). But it gets confusing when compared to…

  • Record of the Year: This is referring to the recording and performance of a single song. This made sense back when “singles” were released with one song on a vinyl record.

  • Song of the Year: This is also referring to a single song, but it’s for songwriting, not performing – the award is given to the songwriter, regardless of who recorded or performed it.

The award names should be re-worded:

  • Album of the Year
  • Song of the Year – Writing
  • Song of the Year – Recording

I doubt they’ll ever make this change, because the Grammys have a lot of history, but that makes a lot more sense than the current set of titles.

Why I Looked It Up

I had always wondered. I watched the Grammys in 2024. It makes sense when you watch it, but is mystifying otherwise.

This is item #292 in a sequence of 771 items.

You can use your left/right arrow keys to navigate