(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
I’m sure the powers that be at American Idol had their own reasons for choosing Keith Urban to sit at their esteemed judges’ table. But I have a few reasons of my own. Ten, actually. See if you agree, and if these are the reasons you’ll tune in in January.
1. It is a pleasure to look at Urban.
2. That accent of his never gets old.
3. He is crazy charming. Urban could tell a contestant he sucks, and somehow, it would sound sweet.
4. He did talent shows similar to Idol as a kid, so he’s been on the other side of the judges’ table.
5. The Voice in Australia gave him a taste of reality television, so he’s not an entry-level judge.
6. His musical tastes are excellent and very varied. His admits that his daughter sings Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” he once got in a car accident on his way to see the Thompson Twins in Brisbane as a teenager and this summer took his wife Nicole Kidman to see Lady Gaga. He obviously has a deep love for country, but he isn’t close-minded about it. “My dad’s record collection was predominantly American country — Charley Pride, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker and Ronnie Milsap. When I was 15, a friend turned me on to Dire Straits. My brother was into Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. Somewhere in the middle of all of that is what I do,” he told CMT.com early in his career.
8. It seems like he loves the spirit of song more than the technology of music-making. He told me once back in 2006 that he liked to record demos on old cassette recorders and then listen back to them in cars.
9. He values mentoring. “I always wish I’d had more mentors, better mentors, wiser mentors, people who were proper professional working musicians to guide me as I was coming up,” Urban told Australia’s GQ magazine this summer.
10. Authenticity really matters to him. During one of his tour rehearsals last summer, he talked about what Waylon Jennings‘ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” meant to him. “The reason I love the song so much is because Waylon captured perfectly my journey into Nashville. And the reason I get to make records the way I do is because of what Waylon did. He wasn’t trying to buck the system. He was trying to create a situation where he could stay true to his art. It wasn’t about anti-authority or anti-anything. It was just about authenticity,” he said.
And, oh, wait. One more. Did I mention Urban’s accent?