5 rock acts ripe for country music tribute albums

Brad Paisley, Zac Brown Band and Toby Keith are among the artists who will be traveling to China Grove on a Long Train Runnin” for a cover album of Doobie Brothers songs.

Just like Hollywood loves sequels, country artists love to pay homage to  pop artists, whether it be this new edition or the very popular salute to Lionel Richie a few years ago, or “Common Thread: Song of the Eagles” project 20 years ago. And don”t forget, there”s even a country cover album to the songs of Motley Crue coming.

Here”s one very big reason they are so popular: Much of the country audience today was raised on these songs when pop radio was very melody driven. When pop radio switched to a more urban and beats sound, many of these listeners flocked to country, which had developed its own country pop hybrid with acts like Rascal Flatts, who would have been played on pop radio 30 years ago.

Sony  Music Nashville will release the Doobie Brothers tribute later this year. The Doobie Brothers, including former Doobie Bros. Michael McDonald, will also be on the album. Industry-ites got a little preview (and should have known something was up) when the Doobie Bros. played with the likes of Paisley, Sara Evans, and Chris Young during the Country Radio Seminar last week.

In case you missed it, last month Big Machine Records, home to artists like Taylor Swift, announced it will release a tribute to Motley Crue, who are retiring this year. The album will feature Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, Eli Young Band, LeAnn Rimes and more saluting the “Girls Girls Girls” group.

So in that spirit, here are five more tributes we”d like to see. I”m only partially joking:

AC/DC: Admit it, you really want to hear Eric Church sing “Highway To Hell” and Blake Shelton dig into “She Shook Me All Night Long.”

Linda Ronstadt: A little inconceivable, given how much Trisha Yearwood sounds like Ronstadt, that this one hasn”t been done already. Yearwood could tackle “Blue Bayou,” while Taylor Swift covers “When Will I Be Loved.” It's a little late to time it with Ronstadt's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction this spring, but country fans will wait

Bruce Springsteen: There have already been some very fine Springsteen tribute albums that featured country/Americana acts, but not a mainstream country one. What about Dierks Bentley  on “One Step Up” and Tim McGraw on “She”s The One.” And Keith Urban can handle “Born To Run.”

Nickelback: You know it”s coming. Bro-country is nothing if not lukewarm Nickelback. Florida Georgia Line on “Rock Star” and Cole Swindell on “Photograph.”

Def Leppard: Speaking of “Photograph,”  Rascal Flatts can take on Def Leppard”s far superior song of the same name, Swift”s already recorded a CMT's “Crossroads” with them, so she can take any song she likes, and Jason Aldean covers “Pour Some Sugar on Me” to get things warmed up, or should we say, sticky sweet.