Jake Owen Runs His Songs by His Friends Before He Puts Them Out

Image Courtesy RCA NashvilleJake Owen is constantly thinking about his fans when he's choosing songs like his latest hit, "Beachin'." He often tests songs he's thinking about recording on his friends while they're out on his boat.

Jake tells The Huffington Post, "I can usually tell pretty quickly if they're enjoying the song, you know? But a lot of the time my friends are honest and they’re like, 'God, this is so great, you got to get this out there,' or they’re like, 'This song sucks.'"

Jake's friends obviously gave a big thumbs-up to "Beachin'." It's the latest hit from his current album, Days of Gold, in stores and online now.

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Nashville Notes

Burke/Triolo Productions/ThinkstockNewcomer Joel Crouse will release his debut album, Even the River Runs, on August 19. It features his single, "If You Want Some."

Dan + Shay are the CMT Listen Up Artist of the Month for July. Look for exclusive performances from the duo all month long at CMT.com and on the CMT app.

Craig Morgan has signed on as the official spokesperson for the Spirit of Blue Foundation to promote safety for law enforcement officers. He's also launched a promotion at SpiritofBlueSweeps.com giving fans a chance to see him at the Grand Ole Opry on August 19.

Jason Aldean on Thursday shared a photo on Instagram of him and Kenny Chesney hanging out at an undisclosed Buffalo Wild Wings location.

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Brad Paisley Looks Forward to “The Duels” on “Rising Star” Sunday Night

Image Courtesy Jim Wright/Arista NashvilleThe 20 remaining contestants on ABC's Rising Star begin competing against each other in "The Duels" starting Sunday night. The contestants will be paired off for back-to-back performances. Whichever contestant of the pair gets the higher percentage of votes will stay on the show while the other contestant goes home.

Expert Brad Paisley tells ABC News Radio, "It is drag racing. It's just one person goes, they qualify, there's your time. Go do it again. What about you? Are you faster or not?"

The show's experts are also starting to mentor the contestants, which means they'll be selecting some of the songs for the Rising Star hopefuls. Brad has been putting a lot of thought into which songs he'll choose for his contestants to connect with the viewing audience.

"The most important thing is that you match the song to the person, and that it's also a song that America recognizes," Brad says. "Originally, I was like, 'Man, we should let 'em sing something they wrote,' but not everybody's gonna be a great songwriter."

He adds, "If you're picking a song that America's not totally aware of, or that's a niche sort of alt-rock thing or something that people don't know, they're having to get to know that while they're getting to know you."

Tune in to see all of the action on ABC's Rising Star Sunday night.

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Taylor Swift Has “Crucial” Role in “The Giver,” but There’s No Singing

Courtesy: The Weinstein CompanyTaylor Swift's next movie appearance will come August 15, when she appears in The Giver, based on the popular 1993 young adult novel by Lois Lowry.  The author tells MTV that while Taylor's part in the film isn't big, it is important.

Taylor plays Rosemary, who in the book isn't a really major character, but who serves an important purpose.  Lowry tells MTV, "The role in the movie is still a small role, but it’s a crucial and very important one."  She describes Taylor's scene as "compelling," and notes that her teenage grandsons said the scene with Taylor was the one they like the best.  As Rosemary, Taylor does play piano in the film, but Lowry says you won't be hearing her belt out a tune.

"She does not sing," Lowry tells MTV. "I don’t know if it would be an appropriate thing for her to sing. It would’ve turned the movie into a musical, which it isn’t! So no, no singing."

Like The Hunger Games and Divergent, The Giver takes place in a dystopian society.  Everything seems perfect, but we soon learn that people have sacrificed their humanity and emotional depth in exchange for stability.  We won't spoil anything, but let's just say that Taylor's character, Rosemary, has a strong connection to The Giver, who is played by Jeff Bridges.

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