Keith Urban is an Australian country artist, but don't let his genre fool you.
He started out in obscurity in the 1990s in Australia, but just released one album before disappearing from the solo scene. For the next several years, Urban bounced around Nashville and got several minor parts. He formed a band called The Ranch in 1996. They released one album and two singles, and disbanded in less than a year.
He went back out solo again in 1998, this time achieving success with his self-titled album for Capitol Records. Three of its singles made top 10, with one of those three ("But for the Grace of God", which he wrote with two members of The Go-Gos) going to #1, thus breaking a nearly three-year dry spell for the label. He returned in 2002 for his second album, Golden Road
. This one got more critical acclaim and won him his biggest hit "Somebody Like You". It broke several records for country music, including most weeks at number 1 (at least on Radio & Records
), got him a fairly major hit at pop, and introduced him as a serious country artist.
The best was still yet to come for him though. He did go through some tough times with drug and alcohol abuse, going into rehab on several different occassions. In 2005 he released his third album, Be Here
. It scored him even more radio hits and really grabbed the attention of the critics this time. By the time he released 2006's Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing
, he got the strongest critical response of his entire career yet. "Stupid Boy" scored him another Grammy.
He's been married to actress Nicole Kidman
since 2006 and currently has two children with her. He released an album in 2009, Defying Gravity
, which was critically panned for containing several mushy love songs, but its commercial success is undiminished. Then, his conquest for love songs was finally done right in 2010 with the release of Get Closer
. After charting with the cut "For You" from the soundtrack to Act of Valor
in 2012, he put out the New Sound Album Fuse
in late 2013.
In 2012, he was a coach on the first series of the Australian version of The Voice
, but will not be returning for season two after accepting an offer to join the judging panel for season 12 of American Idol
Don't mistake him for most country artists. He's got qualities about him that make him country, but he's definitely not like his contemporaries. Even if he does play a six-string banjo.
- Keith Urban (1991)
- The Ranch (1997, re-issued in 2004 as Keith Urban in The Ranch)
- Keith Urban (1999)
- Golden Road (2002)
- Be Here (2004)
- Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing (2006)
- Defying Gravity (2009)
- Get Closer (2010)
- Fuse (2013)
Tropes present in his work:
- Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: "But for the Grace of God" has "Hea-ven only knows that I've been blessed..."
- all lowercase letters: For his first solo album on Capitol, he spelled his name this way. He changed to normal capitalization from Golden Road onward.
- Author Catch Phrase: Many of his songs have references to the sun shining, driving in a car, and/or listening to the radio.
- The Cover Changes The Meaning: From a female perspective, "Stupid Boy" can be interpreted as a female offering advice, or as the victimized female. From the male's perspective, it can be read as beating himself up over letting his lover slip through his hands.
- Early-Bird Cameo: He had a pretty decent résumé before his debut single, including:
- 1991: Sang backing vocals on INXS' live album Live Baby Live
- 1993: A cameo in Alan Jackson's music video for "Mercury Blues"
- 1995: Co-wrote "Jesus Gets Jealous of Santa Claus" on Toby Keith's Christmas to Christmas, and "That Was Him (This Is Now)" by 4 Runner
- 1996: Played guitar on Paul Jefferson's debut, and covered "Dance On" on a Hank Marvin & the Shadows tribute album.
- 1996-98: Backed Australian country singer Slim Dusty on two albums.
- 1997: Co-wrote "Tangled Up in Love" on the Raybon Brothers' only album (this song was later recorded by The Ranch)
- 1998: Played guitar on Garth Brooks' Double Live
- 1998-99: Guest appearances on two Charlie Daniels Band albums.
- 1999: Played on "If You Try to Save This Marriage Again" on Tim Wilson's Gettin' My Mind Right album, backed Julie Reeves on two songs from her only album
- Early-Installment Weirdness: His 1999 album has a more subdued rock influence, and songs like "Your Everything" and "But for the Grace of God" that sound like they could've been cut like anyone. It was also produced by Matt Rollings instead of Dann Huff, with whom he worked through 2013. Also, his hair was shorter and he spelled his name in all lowercase letters.
- The songs in The Ranch were largely more mainstream and subdued, too.
- Everything Is an Instrument: He plays a cardboard box on "Somebody Like You".
- Everything's Louder With Bagpipes: "I Told You So" features Uilleann pipes.
- The Four Chords of Pop: "Long Hot Summer" uses i-VI-III-VII on the verses.
- Heavy Meta: "Put You in a Song", a song about the love song he wants to write about his lover.
- Perhaps given a Continuity Nod in the next single, "Without You", which features the lyric "And up until you came along / No one ever heard my song / Now it's climbing with a bullet."
- Hidden Track: Golden Road features a hidden track called "One Chord Song".
- Like a God to Me: Inverted in "You're Not My God" about getting over drugs.
- Love Nostalgia Song: "We Were Us", a duet with Miranda Lambert.
- Lyric Swap: On "Once in a Lifetime", the final iteration of the chorus has different words. The original is "And don't fear it now, we're going all the way / That sun is shining on a brand new day / It's a long way down and it's a leap of faith / But I'm never givin' up / 'Cause I know we got a once in a lifetime love." The last time around, it becomes "Don't fear it now, I'll never let you go / When you're by my side, I know I've made it home…".
- Lyrical Tic: He tends to do a sort of "mmm" sound a lot. He also tends to utter "Yes, I did", "Yes, you did", or one of several other variants, after several lines. (Example: "You stole her every dream, and you crushed her plans/Yes, you did".)
- New Sound Album: Fuse is his first album since Golden Road not to be produced (entirely) by Dann Huff. Counting Urban, eleven producers trade off on the tracks, and the sound is even more pop than his previous works.
- Rearrange the Song: "Where the Blacktop Ends" was completely re-recorded for the single release.
- Record Producer: From Golden Road until "For You" (from the soundtrack to the 2012 film Act of Valor), he has co-produced with Dann Huff. Fuse had a couple tracks produced by Huff, but nearly every other track had a different producer.
- Rerelease the Song: "You Look Good in My Shirt" was supposed to be the fifth single from his 2002 album Golden Road, but the label instead chose to release "Days Go By" from a new album. Even so, a few stations played "Shirt" anyway, and it became extremely popular in concert, so he chose to re-record it for his 2008 album Greatest Hits: 19 Kids (itself a last-minute re-release of Greatest Hits: 18 Kids).
- Scatting: Done at the end of both versions of "You Look Good in My Shirt".
- Self-Backing Vocalist: Almost all of his backing vocals are either him or Jerry Flowers, another former member of The Ranch.
- Sexy Shirt Switch: The basis of "You Look Good in My Shirt".
- Signature Style: Most of the songs that he writes are either a.) soft, passionate love ballads with restrained production, or b.) guitar-heavy up-tempos with a driving beat. Even most of the songs he didn't write fit one of those two styles; among those he did write, the very bombastic and poppy up-tempo "Once in a Lifetime" is a notable departure from his usual style.
- Singing Voice Dissonance: No, he doesn't sing with an Australian accent at all. In fact, he has a pretty spot-on American country twang most of the time.