Keith Urban: “Decent” but “Dreadful” at 16

If someone unearthed a video of you from 30 years ago, how would that make you feel? Ask Keith Urban. It happened to him on an episode of this season’s American Idol, and it sounds like he wasn’t thrilled about it.

Urban was on Australian talent showNew Faces as a teenager, and he recently told USA Today he’d blocked that performance from his memory.

“If somebody had gone, ’What were you like at 16?’ I would have said, ’Decent. Decent guitar player. Decent singer.’ But that performance was dreadful compared to what we’re seeing now on Idol,” Urban said. “Had I judged me on that night, I never in a million years would have picked that kid to make a long-term career in music.”

I feel like he’s being much too hard on himself. So much of an artist’s success is a matter of timing and what the competition is like at that very moment on the talent continuum. And for Urban, being on that show gave him some constructive criticism so he could take his music on to the next chapter — ultimately to Nashville. (Also, let’s not forget Urban’s stint in his one-man little kid band Rock Fever . That had to lay some kind of groundwork for the music he’s making today.)

And Urban has a pretty good explanation for his “dreadful” New Faces performance of Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.”

“Maybe if I had had a few weeks to get it together,” he said, “I would have gotten over the shell-shock of performing on television.”