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Behind The 56th GRAMMY Awards: Song Of The Year Nominees

Posted on Jan 23, 2014 | 08:15am
Behind The 56th GRAMMY Awards Song of the Year Nominees One of the great things about the Song of the Year category — an award given for excellence in songwriting — is that it often recognizes the lesser-known, behind-the-scenes artists responsible for a song's creation. Often there are whole teams of collaborators responsible for writing music's biggest hits, and it's not often that all of them get their due. So with that in mind, we're giving you a closer look at the songs nominated in the Song of the Year category, shedding light on the songwriters and stories behind these hit songs. Just Give Me A Reason Jeff Bhasker, Pink & Nate Ruess, songwriters (Pink Featuring Nate Ruess) Track from: The Truth About Love Label: RCA Records; Publishers: EMI Blackwood Music, Inc./P!nk Inside Publishing/Way Above Music/Sony/ATV Songs LLC/WB Music Corp./FBR Music/Bearvon Music One year removed from taking home a GRAMMY Award in this very category for "We Are Young," songwriter/producer Jeff Bhasker and lead singer of Fun Nate Ruess are nominated once again for Song of the Year . This time the two are joined by international pop-star P!nk, who collaborated with the two to write the mega-hit song "Just Give Me A Reason." In a recent interview with Billboard, Bhasker shed some light on how the song came together. "We just kind of did it in one day and got together and hammered it out," said Bhasker. "I started playing some chords and Nate just started singing, and Alecia [Moore, a.k.a. P!nk] started typing down lyrics and we just kind of put the song together from there. It was an unusually collaborative and spontaneous song." What resulted was a pop ballad about that became one of the year's biggest hits. It's a song about desperately trying to hold onto a relationship even when it's on the brink of completely falling apart — a powerful message that resonated with fans everywhere. Locked Out Of Heaven Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine & Bruno Mars, songwriters (Bruno Mars) Track from: Unorthodox Jukebox Label: Atlantic; Publishers: Mars Force Songs, LLC/BMG Rights Management (US) LLC/BMG/Roc Nation Music/Music Famamanem LP/EMI April Music Inc./Toy Plane Music - Universal Music/Universal Music Corp. Though they're credited individually on the song, the trio of songwriters responsible for "Locked Out Of Heaven" very much works as a team. Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Bruno Mars go by the moniker "The Smeezingtons", and collectively, they've spawned hits like B.o.B's "Nothin On You," Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You," and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire." "Locked Out Of Heaven" is The Smeezingtons' first nomination in the Song Of The Year category, and tells the tale of a love so blissful that it's like being let into heaven for the very first time. Perhaps you're wondering who inspired such divine lyrics. Well Bruno Mars admitted to UK radio station Capitol FM that it was none other than the stunning actress Halle Berry! When Mars was asked his favorite lyric from the track by a fan in a recent Google+ hangout, he replied with the saucy line, "But swimming in your water is something spiritual." Fans of the singer/songwriter must love that line too, because it's one of Mars' most popular songs to date. Roar Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, Katy Perry & Henry Walter, songwriters (Katy Perry) Track from: Prism Label: Capitol; Publishers: When I'm Rich You'll Be My Bitch/Kasz Money Publishing/MXM/Kobalt Songs Music Publishing, Inc./Bonnie McKee Music/Where Da Kasz At?/Songs Of Pulse Recording/Oneirology Publishing/Prescription Songs When it comes to a ‘dream team' of songwriters, you can't do much better than the combo of Katy Perry, Bonnie McKee, Dr. Luke, and Max Martin. The foursome also worked together on Perry's massively successful single "Teenage Dream," off her album of the same name, which earned Katy a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2011 GRAMMY Awards. This time the team — plus producer wunderkind Cirkut — put their heads together to write "Roar," the lead single off Perry's latest release, Prism. In an interview with MTV back in October, songwriter Bonnie McKee opened up about the inspiration behind the feisty single: "[Roar is] kind of a 'pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going,' female-empowerment song." Take one look at the song's chorus and that message is clear: "I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter / Dancing through the fire / 'Cause I am a champion, and you're gonna hear me roar." That the writing of "Roar" coincided with Katy's divorce from ex-husband Russell Brand is no coincidence. During an appearance on Radio 1 with DJ Scott Mills, the pop star revealed that she "Wrote [‘Roar'] because I was sick of keeping all these feelings inside and not speaking up for myself, which caused a lot of resentment. Obviously I've been through a lot of therapy since my last record and that's what this is about." Royals Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor, songwriters (Lorde) Track from: Pure Heroine Label: Universal Music; Publishers: Copyright Control/Sony ATV The youngest nominees in the category this year are Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor (aka Lorde), but their songwriting is anything but juvenile. The duo is nominated for "Royals," a song included on Lorde's debut EP, The Love Club, released back in the spring of 2013, that stands out thanks to candid songwriting that calls out the materialism found in much of today's pop-music. According to an interview with, the first line Lorde wrote from the song was "We're driving Cadillacs in our dreams," which was a lyric she found in an old diary she wrote when she was just 11 or 12. The rest of the words were fleshed out under the "Royals" title, which came to Lorde when she saw a photo of Kansas City Royals' baseball player George Brett in an old copy of National Geographic. "It was just that word. It's really cool," Lorde gushed. The theme of "Royals" — essentially the garishness of pop lyrics, told from a teenager's point-of-view — has been embraced by listeners around the world, making the 17-year-old's nomination well deserved. Same Love Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert) Track from: The Heist Label: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis LLC; Publishers: Macklemore Publishing/Ryan Lewis Publishing It's been quite the year for Seattle-based rapper Macklemore and his producer partner Ryan Lewis. The duo's independent LP The Heist was a massive success and spawned smash-hit singles like "Thrift Shop" and "Can't Hold Us." But it's their Song Of The Year at the 2014 GRAMMYs, but the choice to nominate their gay rights anthem "Same Love" was a strong one. The track, inspired by Macklemore's own personal insight into same-sex relationships from his uncles and his godfather, was penned in support of gay marriage equality in the United States and around the world. In an interview with Hot97, Mackelmore explained that the song is particularly important to him because of the homophobia associated with the hip-hop genre. Featuring a snippet from singer/songwriter/spoken-word poet Mary Lambert's own same-sex anthem, "She Keeps Me Warm," "Same Love" won Best Video With A Social Message at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, and continues to inspire thanks to lyrics that promote tolerance and acceptance. The 56th annual GRAMMY Awards are taking place this Sunday, January 26th at 8pm EST / PST only on CBS.