Monday, November 26, 2007

A Review of the Greatest Hits

Slant Magazine
(3 & 1/2 stars out of 5)
Keith Urban
Greatest Hits
by Jonathan Keefe
Posted: November 24, 2007

As his first Greatest Hits anthology makes abundantly clear, there hasn't been a more consistent—both in terms of quality and actual radio hits—singles artist in mainstream country music over the last decade than Keith Urban. The 15 singles included here represent an uninterrupted string of Top 5 hits, including seven #1's, and what elevates Urban's output far above other radio favorites like Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney is the quality of his material and the fact that he's actually talented.

Combining massive hooks with Urban's expressive voice and first-rate guitar work, singles like "Somebody Like You" and "Days Go By" are some of the rare examples of pop-country that aren't complete embarrassments either as "pop" or "country." Even when he skews more than a bit emo on ballads like "You'll Think of Me" and "Making Memories of Us," Urban is a strong enough singer to keep the performances from being cloying.

But Greatest Hits isn't without a few significant problems. Using the radio edits of 12 of the 18 singles may have allowed for the inclusion of a few extra songs, but those edits trim many of the standout bridges and outros that highlight one of Urban's biggest selling points: his guitar playing. It makes it a bit disingenuous that he's shown holding a guitar in almost every photo in the album's packaging. A more significant problem, though, is the way that the album's two new singles, "Romeo's Tune" and "Got It Right This Time (The Celebration)," follow in a trend started on his bloated, overblown Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing. That album displayed a tendency for schmaltzy overproduction in place of the slick pop hooks of his earlier cuts.

The bombast has taken a definite toll on both Urban—his performance of "Everybody" on the recent CMA telecast was ragged, and his voice shreds on the coda of "Got It Right This Time"—and the formerly consistent quality of his output. On the new songs, Urban sounds like he's threatening to bust out his best impressions of early-'90s hits by Richard Marx and Phil Collins. And if that's the direction Urban is heading, this Greatest Hits package might be all the more valuable as a document of how good he really was before it all went south.

http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=1240

28 comments:

Perspone said...

This reviewer has hit the problem right on the head. Keith needs to get back to what worked for him and stop trying to be someone else. Keith has lost his artistic identity, unfortunately that seems to have coincided with when he got married and when other problems surfaced. Keith should look upon this review as constructive criticism, listen to what the reviewer is trying to say to him, and figure out what he needs to do to make his music better and get back to being the great musician and artist we know he can be. If he can't do that, then he'll be nothing more than a parody of musician and artist who created the "Golden Road" and "Be Here" albums.

maclen said...

Hey urban myths, if I wasnt sure, Id bet this guy was reading your blog! It certaining mirrors all the opinions reflected here. Well the sales of the GH cd...and the latest single... its been at #11 for a couple of weeks now.... will be an indication of how the career is doing, as all indication are that is falling back, and this comment about the Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing cd.... "That album displayed a tendency for schmaltzy overproduction in place of the slick pop hooks of his earlier cuts." yeah schmaltzy overproduction... could he be referring to kidman there?

notachance said...

Is Kidman the "sole" reason for his lost identity? Sometimes I think he was already on that road and she just came along at the right time, right place for him.

I don't think every song on that LPTWCT album was written after they met....

CJ said...

Notachance, yes, every cut on Love pain was written after he met Nicole. He took a 6 month break to write and record the album in 2006. He also, just happened, to get married during that same break from touring.

CJ said...

I'll speak for KU fans: we are pissed he did not re-record the cuts on the greatest hits album. He even said in interviews - the songs evolve, change, and the way he performs them now in concert is different from the way they were originally recorded and performed. I would have loved to hear the "old stuff" rerecorded to see the growth of the artist as well as have 2 versions of the songs. Keith, you were lazy and trying to rip us off by not taking a few precious days away from your beautiful beautiful princess to rerecord the hits music. The only smart move he made, and the only albums he will sell, are the ones packaged with the video dvd. People will buy the video dvd and therefore must get the hits album to get it, but no one will buy the album on its own for a remake and a cover.

banbotox said...

As a long time Keith fan-I have to also add that the GH cd is a complete waste of money. To repackage the songs we already have and then add a COVER song that sounds karaoke-he certainly did not make that song his own and a remix of the song he specifically wrote for her is insulting...
I know many fans that have all the videos so that's not a deal maker either.
I agree cj-he took the easy way out...with everything that he has been through this last year, he could have easily added an NEW, ORIGINAL song to this cd. I think his muse is on an extended holiday. I certainly hope she hasn't booked a one-way trip.
Oh and notachance-review the history-he was nearly at the top of his game before she saved him.

notachance said...

A) I know he was at the top of his game when they got together, but I don't believe she is solely responsible for his downfall. It takes two to tango. He allowed it happen, so he's just as much at fault. He craved stardom enough to leap into her world with lead boots on.

B) GH's albums, IMO, are not only a rip-off on the fans but a cheater way to full-fil a contract with the label. Oh, here I am a lazy ass not wanting to put out any new material so I'll just do a GH album as part of my commitment. And Keith was a major lazy ass in that he couldn't even put any of his unreleased works (that we all know he as an arsenal of) on there as new temptation to buy it, nor offer up the old tracks in a newly recorded version. He is the master defrauder IMO. I would've much rather this been a live CD that included some of the fantastic covers that he does on tour. At least you'd have something different. He wins the asshat award for 2007. Looks good, eh Keith???

bstnactrs said...

It would have been alright if this was just another regular album...but it isn't. It's supposed to be a Greatest Hits album...that implies that the songs on it are all hits. I don't see that here.

A lot of these songs were never even released as singles and two of them are covers that he’s never done before (and just happen to be on the “Margot At The Wedding” soundtrack). Artists usually include a couple of NEW TRACKS (of their very own) whether they are songs that were never produced/included on a prior album or brand-spankin' new.

This is a pretty sorry excuse for a GH album if you ask me. It’s more his "Greatest Love Of All Compilation Album".

It seems to me that this album was a last minute, half-assed, lazy attempt to get back some money lost on his other "Ode to the BBP" and, of course, I’m sure if fulfills some obligation to Capitol.

And now he has to CO-HEADLINE with an AI pseudo-star to sell tickets?

It is all very disheartening & concerting if you ask me.

--------------------------------
Bstn
http://doyou-rememberwhen.blogspot.com

maclen said...

Certainly this greatest hits cd is a last minute effort to try and make up for his WHole crazy cd underperforming... as Billboard still has it status as single platinum. As for the GHits cd, in its first week, it sold 117,000 cds, as compared to underwoods "Carnival Ride" selling 141,000 cds, which is in its 4th week. So I'm just assuming she will be getting top billing, Certainly urban cant be too satisfied with how things are going for him.

CJ said...

If he gave a rats a$$ about his career he'd do something about it. He obviously doesn't care - no matter what he says in interviews. Everybody was released as a single how long ago and he still hasn't released a single. I assume he's not going to because really, at this point, why bother. He may as well retire.

banbotox said...

notachance,
I don't think Kidman is solely responsible for his lost identity. That being said, I do believe that she has played a major role in that loss and continues to play on his weaknesses as she deems necessary. And yes, he allows it but I don't think he is strong enough yet to break that chain.
Whoever he is listening to at this point, is giving him poor advice regarding his career.

maclen said...

I think the fact that urban landed in rehab 4 months after he married kidman, with the previous year of the "courtship" with her and having just finished recording the Whole crazy cd certainly doesnt tell of a stable or productive mix. And what if it never becomes a stable mix? I mean, urban may believe being married to kidman is a cure for his addiction problems, but what if he cant get his music and career back on track, and there is certainly signs its faltering... will it create stress and will he then be content to remain second fiddle to kidman? Or will he want to seriously try and get back that first fame and level of success he worked so hard to achieve, which may then cause stress in the marriage? And who was it that once said that they didnt believe they could have a successful marriage and a successful career at the same time? Right, it was kidman... so we'll see if she was being truthful about that.

notachance said...

If Keith plays second fiddle to Scarrie Underwood on that tour I don't know if a second recovery will be in the cards for him......

Or maybe that's why he's choosing to go out on the "let's party for any reason" tour with KC this summer to try to look like he's actually a guy again.

CJ said...

He is actually touring with Kenny or is it a one night gig? I was thinking it was just a one night thing. Am I wrong?

Perspone said...

CJ, I think Keith is doing the Stadium Shows with Kenny, so it will be 7 or 8 shows.

notachance said...

Speaking of Scarrie Underwood, I don't imagine that her fan base is the kind "gets their groove on" to the music. More likely they are the sit down crowd - guess we all better beware the bad blood coming out of that....

maclen said...

Well actually i dont see how these tag team tours, with underwood and chesney, is going to help any one of them. All it will do is dillute each of their fanbase who get to see them live. If urban needs to piggyback on the more successful "cheswood", all I see it doing is packing the stadiums and venues with the other musicans fans as some kind of superficial feel good stunt for not having to see any empty seats. Or perhaps urban believes he can convert fans at these shows? Well i just see it as a regular sports event, with each side trying to cheer the loudest for their own team.

don't believe the lies said...

First off I HATE the name of the cd. So freakin stupid!! Whoever let him think that it was a good idea should be fired!

Secondly someone said that him going out on tour with Kenny might make him look like a "guy" again could be right. He's looked weak and stupid so long he's needing someone's coat tails to hold onto. Although touring with Carrie doesn't make him look that great either.

notachance said...

I KNOW why Kenny does the stadium tour and gets the support acts that he does for those shows. This is his insurance for EOTY at the CMA's.

As for the support acts going with him, it's massive exposure to fans that might not otherwise buy tickets to one of your shows. Keith is sure to convert quite a few. Honestly, I found Keith (and Dierks) at a Kenny show 4 yrs ago - so it works. And we know Keith will have a lot of play time. I'm betting Gary opens with 45 min, then LeAnn with another 45 min and then Keith with 1 + hours and then Kenny with his 1 hour lame-ass show. There might even be some co-ingling up on stage with all of them for added effect.

Wonder if any of these shows will prevent Keith from celebrating his anniversary & her birthday? Or is KC working the tour around that?

CJ said...

Since Nic "won't allow Keith to hang out with Kenny anymore" and Nic and Kenny don't seem to get along, why should Kenny schedule the tour around her. Maybe Keith is wising up and he WANTS the tour to conflict so he won't have to leave the country to go celebrate her bday and the anniversary with her wherever she is filming at the time. That kinda forces her hand - either she takes time off and comes to Keith or go celebrate with her family. She'd probably rather party with her sister anyway. I bet she spends little to no time out on that tour.

maclen said...

Well as I see it, this is the obvious route that will cause the end of this marriage. Urban senses, that despite what kidman says in the press about how she is sacrificeing her movie career for the marriage, ( and just on the facts of her movie deals already signed or planned) Urban of course knows that is not true. So obviously, he knows he has to pick up the pace on touring, and will tour with underwood, chesney... and on down the line, until he, I dont know.... tours with a halogram of Hank Williams...SENIOR! Its the typical circumstances for another celeb marriage that dies of neglect and... of conflicting schedules.

doublewide said...

HAHAHA! maclen, love the halogram comment....conflicting schedules works for me. whatever it takes to end this tiresome charade, and paves the way for the return of the man's muse.

maclen said...

yeah, doublewide, the halogram of HW's senior, I just remembered the song hank williams Jr re-recorded with his father and the video of them spliced together...
... well, speaking of this sham wedding, I was researching in the archives of a kidman fansite, and her official story is she met urban in jan of 2005, and she gave him her phone number, but then urban never called, and of course no stories appear about them until about june or early july... I was surprised to read that there were still sightings of kidman and steve bing as late as march of 2005. Well, so when cruise and katie holmes hook up in april of 05, and then announce their engagement in june '05, suddenly kidman is then spotted with urban, and of course they eventually marry. It certainly adds credence to a sudden sham marriage, because really, who was going to expect that kidman would want to marry dead beat dad bing, billionare bing who probably wouldnt play along with kidmans sham and finagling to beat cruise to the alter... so in comes troubled addict urban, who for the past 6 months didnt even call kidman, and is now married to her and who now says he knew kidman was his soul mate the moment he first saw her... way back in january, but didnt bother to ever call her.... yeah this marriage can so easily come tumbling down.

notachance said...

In Keith's defense he thought she was engaged when they first met. He was on Lon Helton's show? right after that gala and he was asked about meeting her and asking her out I believe, and he replied that "she's engaged, isn't she?" - or words to that effect.

Yes, she was in a sham engagement to Stephen Bing then, although they all deny it but the rumours were aplenty.

I still think they saw each other prior to the first published sightings, because those sightings were not little dates where they parted at the end of the day. I think they were already fully involved at that point.

maclen said...

notachance said...
"In Keith's defense he thought she was engaged when they first met."

Well, I might be willing to cut urban some slack on that point if he was not now being just as disingenuous as she is, trying to portray the relationship in as "fairytale" like portrayal as possible. Then I would have to question his true first impression of kidman, if she was willing to give him her number, and then believing later she was engaged? Its and early indication that they'd be perfect for a spot on Jerry Springer... for as you speculate notachance, perhaps she was spending her days playing golf with bing, and then spending the night with urban...but it still doesnt change my view that kidman conviently latched onto urban for simply publicity sake.

banbotox said...

maclen said...kidman conviently latched onto urban for simply publicity sake.

ABSOFREAKINLUTELY!
There is no mistaking that maclen and I don't care what lie she uses to try and cover it up.

Tara said...

Well I wonder if Keith turned to the woman he brought as his date at G'dLA
and told her he just met his soul mate? Also there is some speculation that Keith and Kidman met many years before that Jan 05 event. Why was it known by some that these dates were just for PR and that was before the cycle ride?

CJ said...

Almost 20K was donated to St Jude in honor of Keith's 40th Birthday. That should tell him 1. he still has fans - for the moment 2. if he acts fast he can still salvage his career. Hopefully that will motivate him to leave the blond one and get back to making music instead of headlines.