When the 64th annual Grammy Awards are belatedly presented on April 3, Dernst Emile II (better known as D’Mile) could become the first songwriter in Grammy history to win song of the year two years running.
The musician, who turns 37 on Monday (Jan. 24), has two songs in the running: H.E.R.’s “Fight for You,” the Oscar-winning song from Judas and the Black Messiah, and the Silk Sonic smash “Leave the Door Open.”
D’Mile co-wrote “Fight for You” with H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas. The three collaborators shared the song of the year Grammy last year for “I Can’t Breathe,” which became an anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement. (If “Fight for You” wins song of the year this year, his two collaborators on that song would equally share in this Grammy record; if “Leave the Door Open” wins, D’Mile alone would set it.)
D’Mile co-wrote “Leave the Door Open” with the members of Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak) as well as Mars’ longtime collaborator Christopher Brody Brown. Mars and Brown won song of the year four years ago as two of eight writers on Mars’ smash “That’s What I Like.”
Five songwriters or songwriting teams have won song of the year twice, but never back-to-back. Here they are, ranked by the shortest gaps between their two wins.
Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer: The team won in two out of three years for “Moon River” (1961) and “Days of Wine and Roses” (1963). Those classic film ballads won back-to-back Oscars for best original song, but the Grammys and Oscars have different eligibility periods, which pushed the melancholy “Days of Wine and Roses” into the 1963 Grammy eligibility year. Mercer died in 1976 at age 66; Mancini in 1994 at age 70.
Adele: The English superstar’s wins span six years, from 2011 (“Rolling in the Deep,” which she co-wrote with Paul Epworth) to 2016 (“Hello,” which she co-wrote with Greg Kurstin).
U2: The Irish quartet’s wins also span six years, from 2000 (“Beautiful Day”) to 2005 (“Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own”).
Will Jennings: The Texas native’s wins span seven years, from 1992 (“Tears in Heaven,” which he co-wrote with Eric Clapton) to 1998 “My Heart Will Go On,” which he co-wrote with James Horner). Both of those songs were written for films – Rush and Titanic, respectively.
James Horner: The composer’s wins span 12 years, from 1987 (“Somewhere Out There,” which he co-wrote with legendary Brill Building songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) to 1998 (the aforementioned “My Heart Will Go On”). Both of those songs were written for films – An American Tail and Titanic, respectively. Horner, who was an avid pilot, died in 2015 while flying his turboprop aircraft. He was 61.
Looking ahead: So will D’Mile win for song of the year? Both of his nominated songs are strong candidates, but the front-runner is probably Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” which she co-wrote with Daniel Nigro.
Two of this year’s other song of the year nominees have already made history, as previously reported here. Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” (featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon) has more collaborators (11) than any other song of the year nominee in history. Those three songwriters co-wrote the pop/soul jam with Louis Bell, Bernard Harvey, Felisha “Fury” King, Matthew Sean Leon, Luis Manuel Martinez Jr., Aaron Simmonds, Andrew Wotman and Keavan Yazdani.
Brandi Carlile is the first female songwriter in Grammy history with two song of the year nominees in the same year. She co-wrote her own track “Right on Time” with Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth and Tim Hanseroth. She co-wrote “A Beautiful Noise,” her collab with Alicia Keys, with Keys, Ruby Amanfu, Brandy Clark, Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Linda Perry and Hailey Whitters.
This year’s other song of the year nominees are Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits” (which he co-wrote with Fred Gibson and Johnny McDaid), Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” (which she co-wrote with Finneas), Doja Cat featuring SZA’s “Kiss Me More” (which they co-wrote with Rogét Chahayed, Lukasz Gottwald, Carter Lang, Gerard A. Powell II and David Sprecher) and Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” (which he co-wrote with Denzel Baptiste, David Biral, Omer Fedi and Roy Lenzo).