When Keith Urban joined the panel of judges for American Idol 2013 it seemed as if we were getting a judge that the average viewer could totally relate to, who wouldn’t be more concerned with providing sound bytes and generating personal publicity, than giving sound advice and guidance to the contestants as well as the viewers. From all appearances, Keith seems to be down to earth, steady and polite. Some of our readers have commented that he is too polite and this trait inhibits him from giving stern criticism when it is truly warranted.
American Idol has always had a huge fan base in the country music genre and the show has produced several artists who have gone on to become stars in the country music industry. Keith Urban is the epitome of a Country/Pop star and has the career accomplishments to prove it.
Keith was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia when he was just 2 years old. He has been married to Oscar winning actress, Nicole Kidman since 2006. They have 2 young children together and currently make their home in Nashville, TN.
Keith had been a successful performer for many years in his home country and released his first album in 1988. Soon after, he came to Nashville, TN in hopes of furthering his musical career and started down his road to success with the band, “The Ranch” and released an album in 1997 which brought him critical acclaim and commercial success.
However, what Keith really wanted to be was a solo performer and in 2000 he released his first self-titled album which earned him CMA’s “Top New Male Vocalist” award. His talents as a singer/songwriter were quickly recruited by other country superstars such as Garth Brooks and The Dixie Chicks. After touring with Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney, Keith headlined his first tour in 2004 and earned CMA’s ‘Entertainer of the Year”, “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “International Artist of the Year” and from then on Keith has been firmly planted in the hearts and minds of Country Music fans the world over.
Keith has won 4 Grammys, the first being in 2006 for the hit single, “You’ll Think of Me” and that same year was again awarded the academy of Country Music’s “Top Male Vocalist of the Year”. He has won a “People’s Choice”, “American Music Award” and 5 Academy of Country Music Awards. Keith has had fourteen #1 singles and twenty-five singles in the Billboard Top 10. He was nominated for a Golden Globe this year for his original song, “For You”, which was featured in the movie “Act of Valor” and also became a member of the “Grand Ole Opry”. His album, “Defying Gravity” released in 2009 debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and the single, “Sweet Thing” went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart. Keith performed the single, “Kiss a Girl” as a duet with American Idol Season 8 winner, Kris Allen on the show’s finale. Keith’s latest Grammy win was for “Till Summer Comes Around”, released in 2011. Keith’s electrifying concerts have sold out all over the world and his latest tour, “Light the Fuse” kicks off this summer.
His recent album, “Get Closer” has produced three #1 hit singles, one of which “Long Hot Summer” he performed on American Idol’s 450th episode in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. The exhilarating performance was a testament to Keith Urban’s tremendous success as a singer and a performer. His enthusiasm and commitment to his work as well as his ability to engage the audience was obvious and even he couldn’t contain his excitement, breaking the news of the upcoming performance in a tweet saying, “Psyched to play tomorrow night on Idol…I hope Randy and the girls put me through!!!”.
As an Idol judge, Keith has remained untouched by the feuds and negative publicity surrounding fellow judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. Commenting on the recent upheaval, Keith said, “four passionate people get thrown on the dance floor together and they say “Go!”. We try not to step on each other’s toes.” He also says that he strives to keep his critiques helpful and also geared to what the contestant can comfortably handle. He sees no point whatsoever in giving a critique that is “soul crushing and not helpful, I just don’t see any worth to it.”
Keith describes sending a contestant home as “an awful feeling” and very disheartening, especially when it’s his turn to deliver the often devastating news. “I’m only one voice of many, it only takes the others saying “No”, and they’re all done”. He says he “tries to stay in the moment, give them the best advice possible and hopefully get them through to the next round.”
Keith has a keen understanding of the pressure these Idol hopefuls are under each week and takes that into account when giving his opinions. He says American Idol is one avenue for up and coming artists, but he wouldn’t trade his experience of paying his dues in the clubs.
As far as his ability to get along with the other judges, Keith says growing up in Australia, everyone is “raw and straight and tell it like it is” and says he “clicked” with Nicki Minaj right away. He also says “it’s absolutely a girl’s year to win.” He calls that prediction a “testament to how strong the girls are” more than anything else.
Keith’s polite and reserved demeanor is a quality that appeals to many and he obviously has a genuine fondness and respect for the Idol contestants, but are those qualities hindering his ability to be an effective American Idol judge? Do the contestants really need someone who is able to give them a harshly worded critique when deserved or is Keith Urban’s approach just as effective?