Bonnie Raitt wrote the title song to her latest album, Just Like That, by herself. The tender ballad, which is sung from the point of view of a mother of a son whose organs were harvested to save others’ lives, is the first song written by just one songwriter to receive a Grammy nomination for song of the year since Taylor Swift’s “Lover” three years ago.
In 1971, when Raitt launched her recording career, solo-written songs weren’t at all unusual. Three of that year’s song of the year nominees were written by just one writer – the James Taylor smash “You’ve Got a Friend” (written by Carole King), the Sammi Smith classic “Help Me Make It Through the Night” (written by Kris Kristofferson) and the Lynn Anderson smash “Rose Garden” (written by Joe South).
As late as 2002, songs written by just one writer weren’t outside the norm. Four of the song of the year nominees that year were the work of just one writer – the Norah Jones hit “Don’t Know Why” (written by Jesse Harris), Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles,” Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising” and Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”
But in recent years, the trend has been toward songs penned by collectives of writers. Last year, the Justin Bieber-led smash “Peaches” set a new record as the song of the year nominee with the most co-writers (11). This year, the DJ Khaled-led “God Did” nearly matched that record. It has nine co-writers.
Here are all of the songs written by just one writer to receive song of the year nominations since 2000. We show the peak Billboard Hot 100 position for each song. All songs spent one week at peak position unless otherwise noted.