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Single of the Year finds four very real stars pitted against a fictional group - The Soggy Bottom Boys of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, actually singer Dan Tyminski of Alison Krauss' Union Station and some fellow bluegrass aces. The Boys' rave-up on the traditional favorite "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" is up against Brooks & Dunn's thumping "Ain't Nothing 'Bout You," Sara Evans' uplifting "Born To Fly," and inspirational ballads from real-life bands Diamond Rio ("One More Day") and Lonestar ("I'm Already There").
Two-time Album of the Year winner Tim McGraw takes on a field of competitors who are all looking for their first win in this category. But Tim's Set This Circus Down, Alan Jackson's When Somebody Loves You, Sara Evans' Born To Fly and Brooks & Dunn's Steers & Stripes face an unusual challenger in the year's biggest surprise hit - the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack.
The Song of the Year award goes to songwriters rather than performers, but most of this year's nominees sprang from the pens of the people who made them hits: Sara Evans co-wrote "Born To Fly," Toby Keith had a hand in "How Do You Like Me Now?!" and Lonestar's Richie McDonald helped write that band's "I'm Already There," which was inspired by a phone call from Richie's son. Diamond Rio's sparkling take on "One More Day" made that song a smash, while George Strait and Alan Jackson sang "Murder On Music Row" so memorably that it's been nominated in this category for two years running.