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As it turns out, only a little bit — but certainly enough to make awards analysts take note.
Smith is currently in the running for six Grammy Awards, including song of the year for “Stay With Me.” That particular category recognizes the songwriters of a track, and the song’s nominated writers (as announced in December) are Smith, James Napier and William Phillips.
Petty and Jeff Lynne were recently given co-writing credits on “Stay With Me” after Smith “acknowledged the similarity” between it and Petty’s 1989 song “I Won’t Back Down” (written by Petty and Lynne). So Billboard reached out to the Recording Academy to inquire if Petty and Lynne would be added as nominees.
“Since Lynne and Petty didn’t do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated by Napier, Phillips and Smith for ‘Stay With Me,’ ” says Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy’s svp awards. “Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees, nor will they be considered Grammy recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work.”
Smith’s representative earlier told Billboard: “Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of ‘Stay With Me’ listened to ‘I Won’t Back Down’ and acknowledged the similarity. Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of ‘Stay With Me’ along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips.”
The “Stay With Me” songwriting switcheroo news came too late to impact Grammy Awards voting, as final ballots were due on Jan. 16. The awards will be given out in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, where Smith is scheduled to perform during the show’s CBS broadcast.
This article was originally posted on Billboard.com.
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