Reported new American Idol judge Keith Urban is a long time fan of the show. Check out his ties to American Idol over the years through video clips and quotes, after the jump!
In addition to album sales in excess of 10 million in the US alone (and platinum certified albums in Canada and Australia), numerous #1 country hits (many of which he wrote or cowrote), 4 Grammy Awards for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, 7 CMA Awards including Entertainer Of The Year, 5 ACM Awards, and year after year of successful and critically acclaimed arena tours, Keith Urban brings a pretty rich history with American Idol to the judging table, ranging from his support of Idol alums to media comments about being a big fan of the show to writing a song that wound up on an Idol winner’s album. Let’s go to the video tape…
In 2008, Keith Urban hit the road on a co-headlining tour with Season 4 Idol winner Carrie Underwood called the Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy Carnival Ride tour (combining the names of their albums at the time). Keith as the veteran headliner closed the show every night, and it was a cool gesture to give Carrie equal billing when she wouldn’t start headlining her own full formal arena tour until later that same year. During the tour, Keith brought Carrie out for a crackling duet of the Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet “Stop Draggin My Heart Around.”
That year, Keith and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman were also watching American Idol. When Michael Johns was the surprise boot from his season (out in 8th place), he reported that Keith and Nicole reached out to him to say that they had been watching the show every week and he had been their favorite.
In April 2009, Keith and Nicole talked on the ACM red carpet about watching Idol and talked about Danny Gokey‘s strong voice and “kind eyes” (1:00 mark):
Keith would then sign on to perform at the Season 8 Idol finale the same year. In a press release previewing his performance on the Season 8 American Idol finale, Keith said:
I think this year in particular has been one of the best for ‘American Idol. There are — and were — some truly gifted vocalists. The Rat Pack episode was the best, across-the-board night of singing that I’ve ever seen on television. I guess what I love most about the show is watching the musical growth; to see them use the critique given and come back the next week and blow you away. That’s the magic of ‘Idol.’
As Season 8 fans may remember, Keith would perform his single “Kiss A Girl” with eventual winner Kris Allen at the finale:
Subsequently, Keith would invite Kris to open a bunch of concert dates that spring and summer and praised Kris in interviews. Not only that, he had Kris come out and duet with him during his own set!
In 2011, Keith pitched a song he had cowritten with Vernon Rust (and recorded while he was lead singer of a band called The Ranch) called “Walk In The Country” to Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery. Scotty ended up including his version of that song on his debut album, and performing a shortened version of it at the 2011 CMA Awards.
Scotty isn’t the only Idol to cover a Keith Urban song. Kelly Clarkson did a beautiful version of Keith’s t5 hit “Tonight I Wanna Cry” while touring in Australia in 2010:
Danny Gokey covered Keith’s t3 hit “Raining On Sunday” in concert the same year:
Idol contestants have also covered his songs while on the show. Season 5’s Chris Daughtry and Ace Young both sang Keith songs during country week:
Season 6’s Phil Stacey covered Keith’s t5 hit “Where The Blacktop Ends,” while Chris Richardson covered “Tonight I Wanna Cry”:
Season 9’s Casey James covered Keith’s #1 hit “You’ll Think Of Me”:
All those things considered, and adding in his experience as a coach on The Voice: Australia (where he was often caught singing along to performances, regardless of song genre), Keith Urban sure seems like a great fit for American Idol, don’t you think?