Country Music Roundup: Ronnie Dunn will cover an Ariana Grande song, because why not

This Week’s News

This is a sign that Ronnie Dunn either knows how the game is played at this point, or the state of country music radio is such that a former member of Brooks & Dunn has to cover a teenage pop artist to get noticed. Whatever it is, hang on to your boot-scootin’ boogies, because Ronnie Dunn is about to blow you all away with a cover of Ariana Grande’s “Tattooed Heart.”

Musician Ronnie Dunn. (Credit: Jim Arndt.)

That’s also the title of Dunn’s new album, set to be released on Oct. 21 through Big Machine imprint Nash Icon. Dunn told “Rolling Stone Country” that the Grande cover song was his daughter’s idea, but it’s also a pragmatic one, with radio airplay at the forefront.

“If you’re going to be heard and sing, there are rules that apply. . . . It’s all about advertising. If you want to get heard on radio, they’re scrambling for advertising.”

Dunn has been vocal about artists and radio play in the past, and he’s been plenty vocal about politics as well. His last album, the independently released “Peace, Love and Country Music,” never charted on Billboard’s Country Album chart, but lead single “Kiss You There” managed to make it to No. 60 on the country singles chart. Amid label disputes, he promoted the album independently.

Before that, his return to solo country, “Ronnie Dunn” (on Arista Nashville) peaked at No. 1 and birthed two Top 20 singles, “Bleed Red” and “Cost of Livin’.”

So…the fact that Big Machine is releasing his latest album, and the fact that he’s recording a song Ariana Grande cut when she was a teenager, along with duets from former Brooks & Dunn member Kix Brooks and former frequent brooks & Dunn duetter Reba McEntire, all points to following the money. Good business decision for him, and maybe it’ll turn out well for the listeners. But it’s clear that one of the “rules that apply” to being heard on radio, at least for Dunn, is to always go with the mainstream label.


This Week’s Best New Song

Back when Eric Church released his surprise “Mr. Misunderstood” album on the eve of the CMAs last year in November, Church was poised to become the biggest news story in country music for the fall. Then Chris Stapleton sang a duet with Justin Timberlake, and the media coverage for “Mr. Misunderstood” stalled a bit.

Now, nearly a year alter, “Mr. Misunderstood” has more than proven its value, both as an entry into Church’s discography and as a contribution to country music. New single “Kill A Word” proves that point in spades.

Timely for its message about hateful words in the days of internet outrage, the song also knows how to turn a few phrases on its head. He wrote the song with his guitarist Jeff Hyde and Luke Dick, and while the lyrics are on a mission to rob words like “heartbreak,” “regret,” lonely” and “fear” of their power, Church sings with a vengance. I’ll have this and “Cast No Stones” from Cody Jinks on repeat until the November election.


This Week’s Worst New Song

“God, Your Mama, and Me” from Florida Georgia Line. Also featuring the Backstreet Boys, because why not. I’ll link to it here, but I’m not gonna like it. I’ll have more on this later this week, because more needs to be said about how bad this song is. Anyway, here goes…

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

Country radio fave Brad Paisley hopes to break the moonshine out of the trunk at the HEB Center in Cedar Park Friday night with Tyler Farr and Maddie & Tae. Concert’s at 7:30, doors at 6:30. Tickets are still on sale and can be bought here. I’ll be there and will be reviewing it.

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email:



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