Sunday, December 9, 2007

Keith Urban... is he on the way back?

I’ve been a fan of Keith Urban’s since I saw him playing his heart out in a little bar in Florida in the late 90’s. He was skinny, a bit bashful and a hellova performer. His music was raw and passionate. He was hungry. You could feel it emanating from him.

I didn’t hear anything more about Keith until “But for the Grace of God” came out and it was exciting to think this was that same guy. I watched him grow as an artist…gain popularity and success. I loved that he was different, that he was so truly talented. I loved that he seemed like a regular guy, but his story was one of tenacity to overcome adversity. I loved that he seemed accessible to his fans and truly grateful for their support. In fact, I think it’s because of that long standing admiration that this last couple of years has been so painful to watch.

This uber talented man has been exposed as a womanizer, a drug addict (I thought that was old news), a drunk and a cheater. And the reason we found out about this…well that is all down to the relationship with Nicole Kidman. Who’d have thought that those who warned that this relationship could actually negatively impact his career were right? However, it seems clear to me that if he had not gotten together with NK we would never know about his drinking, drugging and promiscuity. We’d still be innocent admirers of the Keith Urban of old.

When Keith won CMA Male Vocalist and Entertainer Of The Year in 05, he had such career momentum. But instead of taking the “bull by the horns” and getting on with his career, he stopped touring and made his first “official” appearance with NK. That seems to have been for many fans, the first step toward rehab. The press became progressively more vicious toward Keith, he cancelled a show because of voice problems (and though that was likely legitimate, he was seen “canoodling” with NK while he was supposed to be on voice rest), and headlines focused on NK and their relationship, and not on his enormous talent. Keith, who had always been funny and quick in interviews, became cranky. He stopped showing interest in his fans. He started to look stressed and withdrawn to many. This once private man was no longer private. In some cases, the photo ops seemed to be staged. Rumors of a PR contract arose.

The wedding was a spectacle, which was not at all what I’d have expected from Keith. The honeymoon photos did not show two people in love…but showed two people who seemed distant and uncomfortable together. In spite of the reports of ‘happy couple’…Keith looked sullen and withdrawn. His performances during the summer of 06 were spotty. The ‘skeptics’ had predicted that something bad was going on…and they even said that there would be reports of him cheating and possibly doing drugs. Many scoffed at those claims, but we all know what happened in Oct 06.

Despite being balanced and at peace, Keith ended up in rehab … and the stories of one night stands with a porn star and a long standing affair with a party girl emerged. The press had a field day. Keith was portrayed as a drunken, drug addicted cheater and NK…the victim…became the woman who was standing by her man. Of course, she played the sad and injured wife, while going out drinking with friends and continuing to meet work commitments. Rumor has it that she really only visited him 3 times during his 90 day stay. Heck, he had to fly all the way to Australia on Christmas day, in order to spend some of the holidays with his wife of less than six months. For me, that spoke volumes about their relationship.

Keith emerged from rehab spouting gratitude to his wife…after all she had saved him. He has seemed subdued and humorless in many of his interviews. He continues to be cranky at times…on edge…uncomfortable with the press. He’s been inconsistent in his answers…sometimes volunteering very personal information and other times, refusing to discuss very general topics. His frequent tributes to his wife are disturbing.

I personally am not surprised by this behavior. He spent 90 days in rehab. In rehab, I am sure that no stones were left unturned re: the whys of his substance abuse issues and cheating. It is a stressful, life changing experience for anyone who takes it seriously. But I also have to admit to being surprised at some of the things that he’s said since rehab… in fact, I’ve been downright disappointed.

The biggest disappointment to me was the revelation that he’d actually considered not touring in 2007. What happened to the guy to whom music was like breathing? It seemed that NK had taken over his life including his career, and that he was sacrificing his career for the marriage, while NK didn’t make any concessions.

Why did Keith emerge from rehab so apparently changed? I honestly think that he came out of rehab having re-evaluated his life. He knew he screwed up big time…maybe part of the big screw up was getting married when he knew he wasn’t ready to commit to NK. I think he regretted the cheating and likely the drug use. Who knows? But for some reason, he has been trying to convince everyone (possibly most of all, himself) that he is with his once in a lifetime love and that she saved him. Most of the anti NKers are not buying this. Most of us don’t care for NK…find her to be a manipulator in the truest sense of the word.

Because of the changes in Keith, some fans are totally disenchanted. Some can’t get past the fact that he used to project an image of a private man…a barefoot poet of sorts … a man who could be the guy next door but who happens to be the most talented artist out there. Some feel that he’s lied to the fans about who he is and so, he’s a fraud. Others dislike NK for many reasons…her apparent lack of maternal instinct while using her kids for photo ops, her manipulation of the media to project an image of the eternal victim, her choice of highly sexual roles, some with children…and they feel that Keith has been tainted because of this association. Some fans are angry at the changes they see in Keith and some have become “x-fans”.

Without a doubt, Keith’s fan base has begun to erode. His singles aren’t making it to #1. His CD hasn’t sold as briskly as the label expected. He isn’t selling out venues any more. But is Keith’s career a lost cause? I think some fans are gone for good…they couldn’t separate the private man from his music and so, can’t listen to the music anymore because to them, it isn’t honest. For them, his music has been tainted by his marriage and relationship to NK. For some, it isn’t a lost cause. Some are holding out hope that the Keith Urban of old will come back and show the world that he’s more than NK’s loser husband.

I’ve been waiting to see him perform live myself to know whether there is hope. Some fans were reporting that his shows were lack luster…most were reporting great shows. Reviews were almost universally positive. I saw him three times in the last few weeks and I can tell you that they were great shows. They were all sold out. He was funny, interactive, and putting 110% into the performance. That’s all I needed to see.

I could care less if he continues to spout BS about NK. In the end, what does his marriage have to do with his music? Some say that the last CD was terrible so proves he has lost his muse. I didn’t like his LP&TWCT as much as previous albums myself. But the truth is, it wasn’t a complete loss. It has sold nearly 1.5 million copies. It received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy in 2006. It was not Keith’s usual sound. Many people felt that was NK’s influence. It might have been…or maybe it’s the way his music is evolving. I am holding on for the next album to see what the future holds. The truth is that all artists have some CD’s that are better than others. If he continues to produce the pop sound that predominates on the LP&TWCT CD, I may move on, as I prefer music with a bit more of a rootsy edgy sound. But I’m willing to stick around and see if he is able to produce another Golden Road or Be Here. Imagine the possibilities!

Some don’t like that he sold an image to the public that was not accurate. I suspect that many of the creative people who make the music, art and movies that we enjoy are very different in real life from their public personas. PR teams are paid to create and sustain an image for public consumption. Keith’s team did that successfully for years and now that image has been blown out of the water. He is no different than most musical artists, except he was “exposed” so now we know way too much about the real Keith Urban.

I personally never bought the barefoot poet image…and maybe that’s why I’m not as disappointed as some. I see a very flawed man. A man who has a creative soul but who is immature, insecure and self absorbed. As a result, I believe he isn’t equipped to deal effectively with the strains associated with life in general, and especially life in the limelight. I think he spiraled out of control in the fall of 06, because of the situation he found himself in. I think rehab caused him to reflect on his life, accept the mistakes he made, and put him in a position to try to get his life back on track. I don’t know if this marriage is “real” or for PR purposes. In the end, that doesn’t matter to me if the man creates kick ass music.

If he spouts tributes to NK, for me it’s a non-issue (don’t get me wrong, I don’t like it; it really makes him sound weak). What matters to me the most is that his music is important to him and he needs it. Recently, he seems to indicate that he need his music…loves touring and generally seems more involved in his career. Skeptics who attended concerts as recently as Nashville in December, described Keith as on fire. He was the old Keith. They said he had that sparkle in his eye. That’s all that matters to me.

I consider myself lucky to be able to compartmentalize things as I do. I can be ticked off at him for the BS he spouts in interviews and the way NK makes him look p-whipped. The inconsistencies between what he says and what he does annoy me. But I still see that immense talent shining through … and now he seems to revel in the music. He seems to be on fire. He seems to love performing ….he looks most comfortable on that stage…he’s enjoying his touring mates … appreciating his fans. That’s all I need to hear to give me hope that Keith Urban is coming back. Like I said before, I don’t care who he’s married to. I just want him to be committed to his career and his music.

How about you? Can you get past the private life BS and let him get back to the music?


don't believe the lies said...

I think for me it's the complete 360 he seemed to take. He is not the same guy he was a few years ago. He doesn't seem to enjoy things like he once did. Are his performances good? I wouldn't know I don't feel like wasting my money on them. Just for a 50/50 shot that he'll be on. Not a gamble I'm willing to take.

If the carefree guy were to return one day and not be so DIVA I might consider it. I was one of the ones who didn't buy the new album. I've been so turned off by his behavior over the last few years that I just couldn't. Should I learn to seperate the two? Maybe, but I feel there are other artist out there who are honest and have stayed true to who they are and didn't need some A-list (which is VERY questionable) celebrity to change them and how they behave.

I miss the guy who showed up at awards shows in scuffed up boots, button down shirt (with the 3 button rule in full effect), faded jeans and maybe a blazer. That guy seemed so layed back and always had a smile on his face. Not the tension and wrinkles that we see now. He has seemed to aged 10 years in a matter of two.

I would love to see Keith happy and for the music to return to what it once was. Will it? I have no idea what the future holds but I still hold onto a glimmer of hope that he will find his way back to what use to be.

notachance said...

Just saw him last night in Sunrise and I'd say the bitch is back! (and I ain't talkin' freezeface).

Even he thanked everyone for all their thoughts and prayers that made him "get his ass back on the road". He puts on a kick-ass show, and if you're not going because you're mad at him you're just plain %&^$%!. It's clear he's in his marriage for the long haul, move past the nose on your face and go back to enjoying what you fell in love with in the first place - his music and his performances. It's still there for the taking.

I'm not saying I love NK, but I can love him & his music and what it does for me to see him at a show and forget that she's part of the equation. He still dedicates a song to ger - so what. It's a few words in a 2 hour thrill ride.

ShutUpAndSing said...

I've seen him serveral times on this tour and he just keeps getting better and better. You can tell that he is enjoying it more. I was one of those skeptics in Nashville..and can I just say..wooo lawdy, what a joy it was to be there.

I think that he is actually trying to reconnect with the fans. Going up and down the catwalk after the show to touch ands and sometimes sign things. And occassionally the same thing after the show. Stopping the bus to interact with the fans for a few minutes. He hasn't done that in a long time.

I am lucky, I am able to seperate the man from the artist. To me, there is no one that compares. I, like the writer, don't like NK one little bite and I think she is bad for him. But it is what it is. I was loooking at the pics of them on the main page and it just made me sad. I want him to be truly in love with someone and for that someone to love him back. I just don't see that with those two. They are always telling us how much they care for one other and to me, if you really did, they wouldn't have to keep telling the world how happy and "balanced" they are.

I didn't buy 18 kids and have no plans. I think he and we deserve better than what he gave us. we know what you are capable of Keith. And I am looking forward to the next CD.

Tara said...

"In the end what does his marriage have to do with his on stage life"

well it shouldn't have to do anything with it but in the case of Keith Urban it does. One of the reasons that there is a split in the fan base is that so many of us knew the relationship with Kidman was fake. Some of us still think that and nothing has changed. And the continued mixing of his marriage into who he is on stage
doesn't change. She saved him is complete bullshit. He went to rehab he chose to stay and work on whatever those issues were that he has. He saved himself and as long as he keeps saying that she is the reason he is where he is then he is still a fraud.
I too have seen several shows this year and some were fantastic others were good a few like Chicago in November were poor. In 2005 every show I went to was great you wanted to share the experience with as many people as you could. This year that dedication and his continued bowing at her alter in interviews is what is turning me off. I am torn I like the music I like to watch him and I don't dislike the person but I hate the sideshow and the side show IS the main show. Keith just happens to perform between his pr appearances for his marriage.

pashe said...

Keith has truly changed from the Keith of old. I truly hope that he stays away from the drugs and alcohol as far as his marriage it is not for me or anyone to agree or disagree about, however, I do agree with previous comments that Keith does not seem to be himself the fun loving, easy going witty self assured self. When out with Nicole at events they look forced, estranged almost and Keith especially is looking very stressed almost to the point of second guessing himself am I standing close enough, am I smiling the proper way, am I wearing the right clothes? His music doesn't seem to have variants to it, it's fine to have a song or maybe two with feelings towards a special person in your life but the whole album? He done very few videos to promote his songs and even they have been like studio style only not what Keith has and is known for in the past. Yes he needs to tour but other artists are touring heavily and still recording and making videos but it seems to me Keith has used the time to fly back and forth to Australia so much it has interferred with his other work as an artist. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying he shouldn't see his wife but it seems like he's paying pennance for his mistakes in the relationship by making all the conssessions rather than it be a two way street which is what marriage should be a two way street.
I hope Keith will start concentrating on his true passion of recording and promoting the real Keith again otherwise his radio play will become even more non existant than it is now which is a terrible shame. I had gotten so use to Keith's name being in the top 5 if not the top 10 on the various charts but now he's lucky to be in the top 20!

banbotox said...

The pendulum just seems to swing back and forth. One minute he says "music is my life, like breathing." Then it's "may not tour in 2007, gotta find balance, she saved me." Now it's "touring is my love, the music saved me."
I don't think he'll be back at 100% until he dumps his handler, ooops sorry, the wife.

notachance said...

As to Keith looking stressed or awkward at "her" events sure, that's to be expected - that's not his world and he needs to find where he belongs in it, and he will in time. No different than any other marriage when we attend functions that have to do with our spouses work. I know my hub is out of sorts at my x-mas party because we just don't associated with people from my work on the outside.

I'm sure if NK were thrust on stage every night to sing (thankfully that doesn't happen) she would be uncomfortable as well because that is not her world. She doesn't get up in front of 10,000 poeple to do her craft (if you want to call it that), nor does she only get one shot at getting it right.

No, I think Keith is getting back to where he needs to be and it was pretty clear to me that he was happy to be there. You can tell in the band too - they are having a good time. He's got a good mix now and they all look like they are having fun and that my friends translates into one helluva fun show for all.

don't believe the lies said...

I think it's going to take more than a few "on" shows for me to say he's on his way back. He's got a long road to haul for my respect for him as an artist to gain back. Such shady behavior over the last few years has left me with a bad, bitter taste in my mouth.

bstnactrs said...


I can only speak for myself here but the barefoot poet image created, promoted, lied about by whoever has nothing to do with why some fans are walking away I don’t think. Very few people bought into that or even cared anyway.

Most people are aware that an entertainer projects an image to attract an audience. Some entertainers are total a$$holes but people can still enjoy their shows or films because they are still dedicated to their careers and put as much effort into it as they always have. Their work is not effected by their private life necessarily ..they can have a private life AND a career and give their all to both.

This is not the case with Keith. Besides now knowing that Keith is a pussy-whipped purse carrying lapdog who can “love” a self-absorbed, selfish, lying, fake, neglectful mother, etc., etc., he is allowing his relationship to effect his career and therefore, it is suffering and he is not putting the effort into it he used to and THAT is what some of us refuse to support. We are not getting our money’s worth anymore so why support his half-a$$ed attempt at being a part-time musician? And then, there’s this:

"In the end, what does his marriage have to do with his music?"

I think his marriage/relationship has a lot to do with his music. The one obviously affects the other and the affect on his career since hooking up with Nicole is evidence of that.

Before Nicole he put out albums FULL of great music such as: The Ranch, Golden Road, Be Here. His songs became #1 singles, his albums sold gazillions of copies, he was nominated for ½ dozen awards in several different categories, he actually won many of those awards, he was a regular performer on almost every music award show that aired, he toured several weeks & months at a time – he was ALWAYS “on”, gave it his all, sounded great, his shows sold out within 15 minutes. He was always comfortable, at ease, laid back, witty, gracious, funny, sweet, charitable, private. And finally, in 2005, he won EOTY.

Since Nicole he has put out albums that are crap. The stuff on LPATWCT is cookie-cutter pop that anyone could do. It is nowhere near what Keith is capable of. And this GH album is a joke IMO. His songs don’t reach #1, his albums sell poorly, he is lucky to be nominated for an award these days and if he is, it’s in 1 or 2 categories. When was the last time he won an award here in the US? Last year? He’s too busy flying back & forth to OZ to perform on most music award shows lately, he now tours what - a couple of weeks here & there? He is not necessarily giving it his best, his voice is very rough, and these shows are not exactly the performances that they used to be…not the same interaction, energy, or personality. His shows NEVER sell out, tickets are still available the day of the show. He has become uncomfortable, awkward, tense, irritable, snippy, pissy, depressed, exhausted, looks 50, not-so-gracious, irresponsible & unreliable (professionally), far from private.

From what I have seen & heard yes, Keith’s shows are BETTER. I saw him in August and although I enjoyed the show, it wasn’t the same.

Going to see Keith now is like going to see the same theater production during the year it runs on Broadway. His show has become a very well produced, rehearsed stage production…there is nothing spontaneous, nothing off the cuff - it’s the same songs most of the time, the same jokes, the same gestures, the same winks & smiles, the same “routine”. They look like they are having fun but the FEEL of the show is very different…not the same at all.

I am glad some people have decided to enjoy him despite the other stuff. Honestly, I don’t begrudge anyone that.

But, IMO, he is not “back” just b/c he is laughing and smiling while strutting around the stage and strumming his guitar. Yes, it is nice to see him feeling the enjoyment of playing again but he has a long way to go to get “back” and he isn’t there yet. I’m not even sure he ever will be.


don't believe the lies said...

Nicely put bstnactrs.

It actually amazes me how people can't see how since hooking up with Nicole has ruined his career. Where are all the #1's? How about the sold out concerts and low record sales? Perhaps if Keith had kept the 2 seperate the fans could have too. Instead he decided to mix business with "pleasure" and has felt the effects of it ever since. So when those people come down on me and others for not being able to seperate the 2 maybe they should tell the same thing to the guy they've been defending.

cricket said...

You have a good point there don't.I think the fans would be able to forget about her and just enjoy the music if it could go back to being about the music and not about her.90% of artist are married but you don't hear them going on and on about their wives.They don't bring them up in every interview,they don't give a speech about them at every concert.I saw him Dec 2 in Little Rock and he was back.It was the best show I've seen him put on since Dec 2 2005.He was the old Keith like before he met her.The crowd was really into it and I doubt any one was thinking about Freezilla at all.When he came out into the crowd and everyone was grabbing him it was because he was Keith Urban,not Kidmans husand.I think she's tearing down his self esteem making him think he has to talk about her because people couldn't posssibly be interested in just plain Keith She's trying to make him think he's nothing without her.She needs to keep him dependent on her so he won't dump her.If he would just shutup about her I think he could win some of his fans back.

music said...

I agree with the last points made by don't believe and bstn: "perhaps if Keith had kept the 2 seperate the fans could have too."

So to answer the question posed in the blog - "How about you? Can you get past the private life BS and let him get back to the music?"
- I can if Keith can.

But sadly I don't think he can or will anytime soon. Have you seen his latest interview?

notachance said...

There are an awful lot of artists that do talk of their spouses in interviews, about how they couldn't do what they do without them. Maybe they don't say anything about them on stage, nevertheless they are spoken of in interviews. Name some? Alan Jackson has said it, Ronnie Dunn has said it, Garth Brooks used to say it a lot about Sandy before they split and now glows about Trisha. This isn't something new. Geez, Billy Joel wrote a song about Christy Brinkley and it was a hit.

Maybe those artists who don't say anything at all are the ones to be worried about, who have compartmentalized their life into such seperateness that their professional life is only the act and really not them. I think I'd rather have someone who brings a piece of home and is willing to share it, even if that means it's freeze-face for right now.

Perspone said...

My problem is not even that Keith mentions his spouse, it's the way it's done, the impression he gives. There's something not right about the relationship and you can see it in Keith's mannerisms, Keith says one thing and his body language is saying something totally different.

I will say this, I had a bad opinion of Nicole Kidman before anyone ever reported that Keith and Nicole were dating. There was something about her that I just didn't like and no amount of PR is ever going to make my opinion of her change.

That being said, if Keith begins to live up to his potential as a musician and stops approaching his career in the half assed fashion that he has been approaching his career lately, I would begin purchasing concert tickets and his albums.

don't believe the lies said...

I don't worry about those artist that don't talk about their signifigant others. It's none of my business, but when it's thrown out there at every show, interview etc. it effects the man his music and the shows. There's a right way to do it and a wrong way. I don't pay my money to hear dedications to a fake relationship.

Also the difference between Keith and Nicole and Ronnie, Alan, Garth and their wives is that those are real relationships and you can actually tell there's love there. You just dont' get that same vibe from the Kidmans.

cricket said...

I never liked her before Keith started seeing her either. There is just something very unlikable about her.She looks snobby and stuck up,like she would be a very unpleasant person to be around.And from what I've read about people who have had to work with her my first impression wasn't wrong.I've always wondered who started the myth that Kidman was an elegant and classy woman. She's about as elegant and classy as a 10 dollar crack whore standing on a corner selling blow jobs.

Perspone said...

Cricket you have such a way with words, but your description fits. NK just has to get her publicity fix and she'll do anything for it.

White said...

I must admit, that was a good blog, very good. I think Keith veered off the path for a while. Was it because of Nic or addictions...who knows, but I'm glad to see a glimpse of the old Keith at the latest shows. It's quite enjoying.

Kackie said...

Wow... you guys really are sick. Since when do you know this guy well enough to act like you should be allowed to 'stand' him talking about his wife? Since when are you close enough to him to think he looks 'weak' when he mentions his wife? I bet your husband (if you possibly still have one) would be ticked at you if you never mentioned him. Weak my butt. You're a warped person to spend so much time typing all of this stuff up about people you don't know. Since when is Keith Urban a perfect man who was taken in by an evil woman? Last time I checked, God said ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. Including Keith Urban. All of his faults are his own, and I'm sure he'd tell you that. Before calling the cops on you because you're creepy. And if you protray him as some guy who just caved and married an evil spider... you're saying he's a weak, spineless idiot.

So maybe get off the internet and go save starving kids. Do something good with your life. Hold a door open for someone. Pray for someone. Spend time doing something positive. You spend way too much time thinking about Nicole Kidman. It's weird. and SCARY. I'm sorry I was directed to your website.