Taylor Swift has a reputation as one of the finest songwriters of her generation. Grammy voters seem to agree – she has received six song of the year nominations since 2009, which puts her in a tie with Lionel Richie and Paul McCartney for the most by any songwriter in Grammy history.
Richie wrote five of his six song of the year nominees by himself. He teamed with Michael Jackson to write his sixth, “We Are the World.”
By contrast, Swift and McCartney wrote just one of their song of the year nominees by themselves. Swift was the sole writer of “Lover.” McCartney was the sole writer of “Ebony and Ivory.”
Swift teamed with Liz Rose to write two of her nominated songs; with Max Martin and Shellback to write two others; and with Aaron Dessner to write one. McCartney and John Lennon were credited as co-writers of all five nominated songs that were recorded by The Beatles.
“Anti-Hero,” which Swift co-wrote with Jack Antonoff, seems very likely to be nominated for song of the year when the nods for the 66th annual Grammy Awards are announced later this year. That would give her a tiebreaking seventh nomination.
Unlike McCartney and Richie, Swift has yet to win in the category. McCartney won on his third nomination, for “Michelle,” a charming tune from The Beatles’ Rubber Soul that few would regard as one of his or their greatest songs. Richie won on his sixth nomination, for USA for Africa‘s “We Are the World.” That song raised millions to fight starvation in Africa and hunger here in the U.S., but it’s more admired for its purpose and intentions than its songcraft.
As Swift launches her 52-date The Eras Tour in Glendale, Ariz. on Friday (March 17), we have prepared this list showing you each of these songwriters’ six Grammy nominations – in a handy, side-by-side format.
Swift: “You Belong With Me” (2009, co-written with Liz Rose)
Richie: “Three Times a Lady” (1978)
McCartney: “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964, co-written with John Lennon)
Notes: All three of these songs were smash hits. “You Belong With Me,” the third single from Fearless, reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 – Swift’s highest ranking to that point. Commodores’ recording of “Three Times a Lady,” the lead single from Natural High, logged two weeks at No. 1. The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” from the soundtrack to their film of the same name, topped the Hot 100 for two weeks – and was the first rock song to receive a song of the year nod.
Swift: “Shake It Off” (2014, co-written with Max Martin and Shellback)
Richie: “Lady” (1980)
McCartney: “Yesterday” (1965, co-written with John Lennon)
Notes: All three of these songs were No. 1 hits on the Hot 100 for four or more weeks. (Four weeks for the Swift and Beatles hits; six weeks for Kenny Rogers’ recording of “Lady.”) Rogers’ smash was the lead single from his perfectly-timed, Billboard 200-topping Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits. “Shake It Off” was the lead single from 1989. Though “Yesterday” didn’t win the Grammy, many regard it as one of the greatest songs ever written.
Swift: “Blank Space” (2015, co-written with Max Martin and Shellback)
Richie: “Endless Love” (1981)
McCartney: “Michelle” (1966, co-written with John Lennon)
Notes: “Blank Space,” the second single from 1989, topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks, making it Swift’s longest-running No. 1 to that point. “Endless Love,” which Richie wrote for the film of the same name and which he recorded with Diana Ross, logged nine weeks at No. 1, making it Richie’s longest-running No. 1 ever. The Beatles didn’t release any singles from Rubber Soul, but a cover version by David and Jonathan reached No. 18 on the Hot 100.
Swift: “Lover” (2019)
Richie: “All Night Long (All Night)” (1983)
McCartney: “Hey Jude” (1968, co-written with John Lennon)
Notes: “Lover,” the third single from Swift’s album of the same name, reached No. 10 on the Hot 100. “All Night Long (All Night),” the lead single from Can’t Slow Down, logged four weeks at No. 1. “Hey Jude” led the chart for nine weeks, making it McCartney’s longest-running No. 1 hit – with The Beatles or post-Beatles. It was one of only two singles to top the Hot 100 for nine weeks in the 1960s, the other being Percy Faith’s shimmering instrumental “Theme from a Summer Place.” (That 1960 smash was nominated for song of the year despite being an instrumental, something that couldn’t happen today.) As noted above, “Lover” is Swift’s only song of the year nominee that she wrote by herself.
Swift: “Cardigan” (2020, co-written with Aaron Dessner)
Richie: “Hello” (1984)
McCartney: “Let It Be” (1970, co-written with John Lennon)
Notes: All three songs were No. 1 hits on the Hot 100. “Cardigan,” the lead single from Folklore, spent one week on top. “Hello,” the third single from Can’t Slow Down, spent two weeks on top. “Let It Be,” from the documentary film of the same name, spent two weeks on top.
Swift: “All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (The Short Film)” (2022, co-written with Liz Rose)
Richie: “We Are the World” (1985, co-written with Michael Jackson)
McCartney: “Ebony and Ivory” (1982)
Notes: Again, all three songs were No. 1 hits on the Hot 100. The expanded version of “All Too Well,” the lead single from Red (Taylor’s Version), spent one week on top. It set a new record as the song with the longest playing time to reach No. 1. USA for Africa’s “We Are the World” topped the chart for four weeks. “Ebony and Ivory,” a glossy plea for brotherhood and understanding across racial lines, topped the Hot 100 for seven weeks. McCartney wrote the song by himself and recorded it with Stevie Wonder. While everyone admired the song’s good intensions, the song hasn’t aged especially well. A Saturday Night Live parody version by Eddie Murphy (as Wonder) and Joe Piscopo (as Frank Sinatra) skewered the song. Sample lines: Murphy as Wonder: “I am dark, and you are light.” Piscopo as Sinatra: “You are blind as a bat, and I have sight!”