5 Songs Country Music's Biggest Stars Have on Their Playlists

Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes and more share their favorite songs.

November 3, 2014, 9:28 AM
PHOTO: Luke Bryan performs at the Gorge Amphitheater during the Watershed Music Festival, Aug. 2, 2013, in George, Wash.
Luke Bryan performs at the Gorge Amphitheater during the Watershed Music Festival, Aug. 2, 2013, in George, Wash.
Mat Hayward/Getty Images

— -- intro:Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes and several other country music greats shared a few of their favorite country songs during the ABC News special, "Countdown to the CMA Awards: 15 Songs That Changed Country Music."

Scroll down to see what songs these stars would have on their playlists.

quicklist:1title:Luke Bryan and Darius Rucker's Pick: Kenny Rogers, 'The Gambler'media:26520319caption:usetext:When country music star Luke Bryan was just a kid growing up on his family's peanut farm in Leesburg, Ga., he said he used to love singing with a hairbrush, pretending it was a microphone.

"I just remember being a kid, running around my room in my pajamas with a hairbrush, singing and having fun ... like a kid should do with music," Bryan said.

And one of his favorite songs to rock out to was Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler."

"Kenny Rogers was just the man," Bryan said. "Nobody was cooler, nobody was smoother, nobody has it figured out quite like Kenny Rogers did."

For Darius Rucker, Rogers was a heavy influence on the former Hootie and the Blowfish front man turned country solo artist.

"I don't think I would be sitting here if it wasn't for Kenny Rogers," the "Wagon Wheel" singer said. "Kenny Rogers was that guy. Kenny Rogers and "Hee Haw," when I was a real young kid were the people that really piqued my ears and made me go, 'I want to hear more of that.'"

Like Bryan, Rucker said he probably listened to Rogers' 1978 album, "The Gambler," "thousands of times over the years" and fell in love with the album's title song.

"I remember being a little kid flipping through radio stations, just hoping I could find, 'The Gambler,'" Rucker said. "It's about as perfect as a country song gets."

quicklist:2title:Florida Georgia Line's Pick: Garth Brooks, 'Friends in Low Places'media:26520868caption:usetext:Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have quickly become a huge force in country music. Their debut album, "Here's to the Good Times," went double platinum, and their hit song "Cruise" became one of the best-selling country singles ever.

But when they're on the road, the duo's favorite song to cover is an old Garth Brooks staple, "Friends in Low Places."

"That's a drinking party country music anthem," Kelley said. "We haven't really played many covers. When we got going, we just kind of started writing our songs and playing them out, but if we ever had to throw a cover in, you bet it was 'Friends in Low Places' because everybody knows it."

"You basically don't have to sing on that song when you play, 'Friends in Low Places,'" Hubbard added.

quicklist:3title:Hunter Hayes' Picks: Rascal Flatts, 'Stand,' and Carrie Underwood, 'Jesus Take the Wheel'media:26520545caption:usetext:In naming a few of his favorites, Hunter Hayes said he is moved by powerful songs that make him want to turn the music way up and sing along. Rascal Flatts' smash hit, "Stand," is one such song for this four-time Grammy-nominated country star.

"'Stand,' Rascal Flatts, how many times did I blare that song in my car with the sunroof open?" Hayes said. "Just going, 'you know what, I just need to feel this, crank it,' you know? It's as if somebody on the other end of the song is singing it with you because they've been through it and they relate to it."

Hayes said another one of his favorites is "Jesus Take the Wheel," one of Carrie Underwood's hit singles.

"'Jesus Take the Wheel' is one of those songs that you crank up and you sing along with because you feel that in that moment," Hayes said. "They paint the picture, they bring you this real story, this real thing ... and you feel things that some songs just can't make you feel quite that much."

quicklist:4title:The Band Perry's Pick: Dolly Parton, 'I Will Always Love You'media:26521094caption:usetext:Although Whitney Houston's rendition of "I Will Always Love You" is more famous now, the song was originally written and sung by country music legend, Dolly Parton.

Parton originally wrote it in 1973, and it instantly became a number one hit on the country music charts after its 1974 release. Decades later, actor Kevin Costner brought it to composer David Foster, who rearranged the song as a pop music ballad for Houston, who recorded it for the 1992 film, "The Bodyguard." The film was a blockbuster hit, and the song enjoyed 14 weeks at the top of Billboard's Hot 100.

"I Will Always Love You" became the anthem of Houston's career and is still the best-selling single of all time by a female artist.

Kimberly Perry, the lead singer in the award-winning country group, The Band Perry, says it's one of her favorites.

"I think [it] is one of the most special songs to ever come out of country music," Perry said. "One thing that makes it so special is that it's absolutely timeless, and it's genre-less, if that's even a word.

"For Whitney to have done a pop cover of that and to do it as beautifully as Dolly did originally, that to me is what's special about country music," she added.

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