Ariana Grande‘s “7 Rings” and Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” (featuring Billy Ray Cyrus) are two of the year’s biggest hits. They are also serious contenders for Grammy nominations for record and song of the year.
But could Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, whose “My Favorite Things” is the basis for “7 Rings,” or Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, whose instrumental composition “34 Ghosts IV” is sampled in “Old Town Road,” receive Grammy nominations?
In the case of Rodgers & Hammerstein, the answer is no, even though the legendary songwriters have a writing credit on “7 Rings.” The writers of prominent songs that are sampled are not eligible for Grammy nominations. If “7 Rings” is nominated for song of the year, the nominations would go to the song’s eight other credited writers, but not to the fabled songwriting team that gave us a long string of Broadway hits, from Oklahoma! to The Sound of Music (which included “My Favorite Things”).
In the case of Reznor and Ross, the answer is less certain. That’s because the musicians have both songwriting and producer credits on “Old Town Road.” They are credited as co-producers with the Dutch producer YoungKio. They are credited as co-writers with Lil Nas X (Montero Hill) and YoungKio (Kiowa Roukema).
Reznor and Ross would not be eligible for song of the year noms, for the reason stated above, but they may very well be nominated if the smash is nominated for record of the year. The Recording Academy has not ruled on this issue in the past.
Rodgers & Hammerstein and Reznor have already been acknowledged by Grammy voters for the work that was borrowed in the 2019 hits.
Rodgers & Hammerstein won a Grammy for the Broadway cast album to The Sound of Music. It won the 1960 award for best show album (original cast).
Nine Inch Nails received a 2008 Grammy nom for best rock instrumental performance for “34 Ghosts I-IV,” a track from the album Ghosts I-IV. The nom went to Reznor but not Ross. That’s because Ross wasn’t an official member of NIN at the time. And this particular award was for performance, which goes to the recording artist, not for songwriting, which would have gone to the songwriters.