Ronnie Dunn admits he didn't want anyone knowing he was working on an Ariana Grande cover. The singer went so far as to hide while he worked the song out vocally.

Grande's "Tattooed Heart" would end up becoming the title track of Dunn's new solo album (Nov. 11), and for that fans of his and hers can thank his daughter. She was the one who put the track from the pop singer's Yours Truly album in the country legend's ear, but Dunn didn't he think he could make it work.

"I didn't even tell anybody that I was interested in doing it," Dunn tells Taste of Country. "I just kind of took it, went off and hid and go 'I'll just go shoot myself in the foot, by myself.'"

"As it progressed, I'd play it over and over and tortured many people while I was trying to get it done," he adds.

Big Machine Label Group
Big Machine Label Group

Dunn isn't averse to covering pop songs. He points out that Brooks & Dunn's 1996 hit "My Maria" was a hit for B.W. Stevenson first. There are some similarities. "I was the one that did not want to do that," he remembers of conversations with Kix Brooks and their team. "I said, 'we're gonna get killed if we do this. It's a rock song!"

Sonically, the country and pop versions of "Tattooed Heart" are similar. Both rely on piano early and then an expressive vocal performance. The "Damn Drunk" singer enjoys pushing the boundaries musically, even if his sound as always been rooted in Nashville's preferred format.

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