(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.
7. He appreciates rookies and veterans alike. One time, in a very short conversation, he raved
to me about Justin Moore’s “Backwoods”
and Dolly Parton’s “Here You Come Again.”
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
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
And, oh, wait. One more. Did I mention Urban’s accent?