He’s currently burning up the road on his Light the Fuse tour with Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch and is preparing for the release of a new album, Fuse, on Sept. 10. In addition to “Little Bit of Everything,” the new album will include a duet with Miranda Lambert titled “We Were Us,” while Eric Church joins Urban on “Raise ’Em Up.”
Football fans will enjoy seeing Urban perform from a stage floating in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Sept. 5 when the NFL kicks off its 94th season. And as if all that weren’t enough, Urban will be back as a judge on season 13 of American Idol.
Here’s a look at 10 prime hits that paved the way for Urban to become a country music superstar.
“But for the Grace of God”
Written with Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin of the ’80s girl group the Go-Go’s, the lyric paints Urban as a man thanking the good Lord for his life. He hears his neighbors arguing and sees a bitter old man with no one to love and is grateful to be spending his life with someone he loves. There’s a warm, emotional tone in his voice on such lines as “But for the grace of God go I/I must’ve been born a lucky guy/Heaven only knows how I’ve been blessed/With the gift of your love.” It hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in early 2001 and remains one of his most requested hits.
“Somebody Like You”
Released in 2002, “Somebody Like You” marked a turning point in Urban’s career by demonstrating he could deliver a major, six-week No. 1 hit. Directed by Trey Fanjoy, the “Somebody Like You” video features Urban’s ex-girlfriend Niki Taylor. The song boasts a potent melody and upbeat lyric about finding the right person to love and reveling in the experience. Written with producer John Shanks, “Somebody Like You” is a perpetual crowd favorite during Urban’s live shows. In December 2009, Billboard named the high-energy love song the No. 1 country single of the first decade of the 21st century.
“Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me”
This has to be one of the best feel-good songs in country music. Penned with hit Music Row songwriter Monty Powell, the song boasts a deliciously upbeat melody and a happy-go-lucky lyric about a guy who may not have any money, but he’s got sunshine and is riding along with his baby by his side so he’s on top of the world. The buoyant anthem was the third single released from Urban’s Golden Road album and become his third No. 1 hit in late 2003.
“You’ll Think of Me”
Urban turned in a poignant performance on this heartbreak ballad that features such memorable lines as “Take your records, take your freedom/Take your memories, I don’t need’em/Take your space and take your reasons/But you’ll think of me.” Sadness never sounded so good. Written by Darrell Brown, Ty Lacy and Dennis Matkosky, the song won Urban his first Grammy in 2005 for best male country vocal performance.
“Days Go By”
This vibrant, up-tempo hit celebrates making the most of every moment in life and reminds the listener how quickly life passes by. In the chorus, Urban sings, “Days go by/I can feel ’em flying/Like a hand out the window in the wind as the cars go by/It’s all we’ve been given/So you better start livin’ right now/’Cause days go by.” Written by Urban and Monty Powell, the song was the first single from Urban’s Be Here album and spent four weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 2004. In the “Days Go By” video, Urban appears to walk forwards, while everyone else about him is walking backwards. In actuality, Urban was walking backwards, and this segment was actually filmed in reverse. The clip won CMT’s best video of 2005.
“Making Memories of Us”
Written by Rodney Crowell, this song was originally recorded by Tracy Byrd as well as the Notorious Cherry Bombs, a group that included Crowell and Vince Gill. Urban recorded “Memories of Us” on his 2004 album Be Here and took the song to No. 1 for five weeks. Directed by Chris Hicky, the video is an understated gem, a black-and-white clip that shows Urban writing the lyrics on a notepad, playing guitar and gazing wistfully into the camera as he croons such romantic lines as “I wanna sleep with you forever/And I wanna die in your arms/In a cabin by a meadow where the wild bees swarm.”
The second single from Urban’s 2006 album, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing, this cleverly-written ballad only climbed to No. 3, yet is one of the most interesting songs in his arsenal of hits. His wife, actress Nicole Kidman, suggested he record this song, which is a marked departure from his many up-tempo offerings. Written by Sarah Buxton, Dave Berg and Deanna Bryant, the song was first recorded by Buxton and is a searing look at a man who treats his woman badly and doesn’t realize what he had until she’s gone. The song won Urban another Grammy for best male country vocal performance.
“Start a Band”
This single combines the talents of two of country music’s top guitarists as Urban and Brad Paisley trade licks on this tasty number. Released in 2008, “Start a Band” was the only single released from Paisley’s mostly instrumental album, Play. In the album’s liner notes, Paisley wrote: “People have been asking for years when Keith and I would do something like this. I am so honored to get to finally pick and sing with one of my favorite players in the world. I am so humbled by his talent.” Penned by Dallas Davidson, Ashley Gorley and Kelley Lovelace, the song became Urban’s ninth trip to the top of the country singles chart.
Though it was written by Joe West and Dave Pahanish, this beautiful ballad from 2011 sounds like Urban could have penned it for his lovely wife Nicole Kidman. In fact, Urban has been quoted as saying he considers the No. 1 song his “life story.” Directed by Chris Hicky, the video was shot on a soundstage in Hollywood and features Urban singing and playing guitar as scenes from his life, including his wedding to Kidman and the couple frolicking on the beach, play out behind him. “We wanted to keep the video simple by trying not to be too literal with the story and making sure we complement the song,” Urban has commented. “We had a good time making it.”
“Little Bit of Everything”
Urban’s current hit marks his 32nd appearance on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. “Little Bit of Everything” was released in May and climbs to the No. 2 spot on the chart this week, and if it continues its momentum, it may very well become Urban’s 15th No. 1 single. Written by Brett and Brad Warren and Kevin Rudolf, the song boasts an infectious melody and an engaging lyric about a guy who wants to experience a little bit of all the good things life has to offer.