American Idol 12 – Keith Urban Loves The Live Shows! (Interview)

American Idol judge, Keith Urban, answered reporters questions today on a conference call. He chatted about the upcoming Top 40 competition and name checked a few contestants including Angela Miller and Kree Harrison. And when answering the last question, he said the sweetest thing about his wife, Nicole Kidman.

Read on:

On Keith’s chemistry with Nicki Minaj, “I never met Nicki before the show. We flew up to New York the night before the very first day of shooting, and we all went to dinner. It was the first time I met Mariah and Nicki. I’ve met Ryan and Randy before. The very next day when we got into shooting, what I really liked about Nicki was just her straight shooting..for me, growing up in Australia, I like being around people that are absolutely raw and straight and tell it like it is. I clicked with Nicki right from the get go.”

On the girls being stronger than the boys, “All I can say, from at least from what we just saw last night, it’s absolutely a girls year to win. It’s not to say the guys aren’t strong, cause they really are. It’s really more testament to how strong the girls are this year. I want to see the emergence of great artistry…but definitely the girls are strong. I don’t know why that it is.”

Have either Mariah or Nicki had an affect on the strength of the girls? – “Certainly Mariah…one of the world’s great vocalists, period. Any girl, I think, would love the opportunity to sing for Mariah and get feedback from her. That’s been a real plus to have somebody like her on the panel.”

Does an original song give the contestant more of an advantage? – If you’ve got something that you feel confident with–certainly in Angela’s [Angela Miller who sang an original song in Hollywood] case, rightly had the confidence in a song like that. I thought it was superb. I think it really helped her–not just because it showed that she can write–that’s not a prerequisite in my opinion. But I think to see her confidence singing a song that she wrote was very helpful for her. I like getting to see another side of who they are–obviously if they write a song, it speaks a lot about who they are as a person as well as an artist.”

On being honest with the contestants, “It’s hard. There’s four of us up there, and in the case of last night, if needed, we also had Jimmy Iovine to be tie breaker. There’s any amount of people weighing in on one voice. It’s particularly hard if there’s somebody I really like and I vote for them. All it takes is the other 3 to say no and they’re done. There’s nothing I can do. Unfortunately sometimes–in the case of last night too–I might have to be the person who delivers the news to that specific person as well. That’s particularly hard for me. I get connected with these artists. I see something in them that I wish got a chance to shine a bit more next week.”

Who does he see as the front runners? – “It’s too soon to tell. Only because–it’s extraordinary what can happen from week to week. I’ve watched people emerge unexpectedly. There was some people singing last night…gosh where did that come from? It can go the other way too, when someone has a lot of expectation from us. And then they sing, and we’re like ‘didn’t quite get there tonight.’ I think it’s far too soon to get any front runner ideas. I will say the audience reaction last night to Angela Miller and a couple other girls was pretty obvious. I think the original song of Angela’s that’s been floating around the internet has really resonated with a lot of people. That’s pretty cool to see.”

Were there contestants whom he wished had more time? “That’s a particularly tough week [Hollywood]. Having to learn songs in a matter of seconds, learning dance steps in a matter of seconds, being in a group with people you didn’t choose–it’s a really tough process. At the same time, to see what we saw last night emerge from that, it’s very possible to get through that and still be incredibly strong.”

Does Janelle Arthur have a special place in his heart because she sang one of his songs? Is she a front runner for him? “I love the fact that she did that. At the same time, I always think it’s an extraordinarily bold thing to sing one of our songs–particularly a Mariah Carey song. It’s a huge honor. I see more of my songs popping up coming down the track. I look forward to hearing that.”

How will he approach being critical on the show? – “I think every person handles critiquing differently. I’m trying to get a feel for what I think the artist is comfortable hearing. In most of the cases, Something that’s just straight soul-crushing and not helpful to them, I just don’t see any worth in it. I’m trying to give specific direction. It’s just my opinion. It’s not to say it’s a fact. They can take it, they can leave it. I try to deliver it in a way in which I’d like people to deliver it to me.”

Keith’s daughters came down to the set yesterday, “Nic and I love them being around that kind of environment. They’re certainly music fans. They haven’t watched the show yet. Just this morning I had the music cranked up during breakfast. They would sit and eat a bit and then start dancing around the floor and then go back and eat a bit more and dance a bit more. What a awesome way to start the morning.”

What’s the secret to getting on Mariah’s good side? “Mariah responds to people in her own way. I clicked with her the first time I met her. I’ve always found this immediate connection to singers and musicians in general. I’m so used to playing in bands. For me, when I joined this panel, I felt like I just joined a band. I’m on guitar, Randy’s on bass, we got two chick singers…and this is our band.”

Would Keith like to mentor? “That’s certainly something I would enjoy. It’s a mixed blessing in some ways why I like it. I would like it from the standpoint of it not being recorded. That would defeat the whole point of doing a TV show. I love that mentoring dynamic. It’s why I’m involved in the Grammy kids camp. There’s so much that we have to pass on. There are so many questions that young artists have. There are so many learning curves we can help them not have to go through. Without keeping them from their own journey–everyone’s got to make their own mistakes.”

Can he see a Carrie Underwood type singer winning this year? Does he have a pick? ” – “Certainly Kree [Harrison] is an extraordinarily gifted singer in an unusual way, because she’s so effortless in the way she sings. There’s nothing over-the-top, there’s nothing theatrical or large about her as a performer. She has this incredibly authentic voice in the same way that Adele has. I just believe her when she sings. She’s definitely a contender.”

Would he like to preform with the other judges on Idol? “I was asked that question early on in one of the press conferences. I threw my hand up and said ‘I’m up for it, let’s go.’ It was met with a rousing silence. I’m going to keep coaxing Randy to see if we can put a little band together. Because I would love to do it. I think it would be fun, and it would be quite natural for us to be able to do that.”

How does he feel about Dave Willis? – “David’s got a good voice. Song choice is important for everyone, but David particularly because he’s got–his tone is really suited to certain songs. I think if he finds those, he’s going to do really well.”

Is Keith looking forward to the live shows? “I think they are going to be great. Performing is meant to be in front of people. Already for me last night, I think 1700 people and a live band–and I’m like ‘here we go, now we’re doing this. This is what it’s supposed to be like.’ I love the live part of it. Randy shares that enthusiasm with me too.”

What does Keith think will help the audacious contestant, Zoanette? “What would help her? (laughs) I got a feeling that we’ve done a pretty good job of helping her to this point in the sense of letting America see her extraordinarily unique gifts in full fly (laughs). Past that, we’ll see what she’s got in store for us. You never know. She’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

On an artist being the “whole package’, “The reality is, if it was only that, the voice, the chairs would never spin around. There’s a certain point when the rest of it comes into play. It just does. The voice is very important, obviously, cause that’s the vehicle that’s being used to carry the art and the expression. Having said that, Adele said famously, ‘I make music for the ears not the eyes.’ There’s a lot to be said for just an extraordinary voice. It can make up for all the rest if it’s not there. There really isn’t one rule across the board. There has to be the right combination. Someone who might have a lesser voice, might have charisma and presence and a way about them that’s just magnetic. Jimmy Iovine said, ‘It just really comes down to feel. How does that artist make me feel?’ I think that’s really spot on.”

Does Keith have plans to take his career down a notch soon? “I like the balance of it. It’s a huge honor that I get to do all of it–that includes being a husband and a father. I feel immensely grateful that I get to do all of these things. It’s navigated a lot more peacefully than I think it appears on the outside. That’s not every day, certainly. Most days it’s balanced pretty well. I have an extraordinary team around me. It really does take a village. I’m certainly not doing everything on my own. I have tremendous thanks for all the help I have. I have an extraordinary wife in Nic, whose an amazing mother. Just does a beautiful job of keeping it all in balance.”

About mj santilli 33317 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!