"I love doing things that are unexpected," says the singer of his "When I Was Your Man" cover

By Danielle Anderson
Updated January 21, 2015 05:00 PM
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Credit: FilmMagic; Abaca

Thomas Rhett knows when you put something on Twitter, you better be prepared to back it up.

Or so he learned when he Tweeted his fans recently, asking if they wanted to see him cover the Bruno Mars hit “When I Was Your Man.”

“I’ve never really seen my Twitter blow up in that way,” the singer, who’s in the running for New Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards, tells PEOPLE. “A lot of times you’ll Tweet something and get a wide variety of yeses and nos, but this one, people everyday were just like, ‘So why haven’t we seen this cover yet? When are you going to do this?'”

His reaction? “Oh man! There definitely was anxiety over taking it on,” he says. Then he thought, go big or go home. “Instead of doing like a little iPhone video, we wanted to do it bigger than that, so we hired a camera,” he says. “I love doing things that are unexpected, especially for my fans, and letting them see a whole different side of my voice and range and all that kind of stuff. When we got in there I knew the song, I knew the lyrics like the back of my hand. At that point it’s just about capturing the right track that has the best emotion with it and the best vocal with it.”

The song has also served as a bit of a confidence booster for the star, who is currently opening for Florida Georgia Line on the Anything Goes tour. “There’s been times where I’ve been like, ‘Well, I want to put that song on my record, but there’s no way that I can pull it off,'” he says. “So for me it was like something really cool that could open up a lot of doors for me in the future. It shows me that if I wanted to put a song like that on my album, I know that it would be perceived well.”

And though the singer is happily married (his wife was even in the studio with him), he actually had fun remembering what heartbreak feels like.

“I’m the happiest man in the world, but the funnest part of that song is that I can totally take myself back to being in that spot where Bruno probably wrote that song at,” he says. “It’s just impossible to sing that song lightly and I think it’s impossible to listen to that song lightly. You can’t sing that song without your full emotion involved in it.”

See Thomas Rhett’s version of “When I Was Your Man” below: