Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another Letter from the UM Mailbag

Dear Mr. Urban,

Just recently I was visiting your website and seen a topic posted in the monkeyville forum titled "Behavior at Concerts - Getting Scarier."  Just in case you do not get informed of what is said on your fan site, try going to the search and finding the thread.  You might find it to be some interesting reading...permitting you care about your fans the way you say you do.  I realize, as I'm sure many others do, that you want your fans to have a good time.  However, there needs to be a limit to the freedom you are allowing them to have at your concerts. 

First and foremost, people are getting hurt, and not just young people, but your elderly fans as well.  It's nice that you allow fans to come up to the stage, but you have got to limit this to the first couple of rows.  Your fans come running down from everywhere in an arena from the 14th row to the nosebleed sections because YOU tell security to let them come up.  Many, and I do repeat, MANY of your fans come charging in like a herd trying to get up to the stage and don't care who they knock over in the process.  People are getting hurt!!! 

Secondly, while I have lucked out and usually have gotten very good seats, there are fans that go through ticket brokers and pay extremely high prices for seats in the first couple of rows.  Do you really feel it's fair for those fans to have a ton of people standing in front of them?  Would you like it?  If they pay for 1st row, they should not have anyone in front of them except you and your band.  I had 2nd row seats at a fair one year to one of your concerts one time but it was actually about 4th row by the time people came up there.  I've seen it much worse than that in arenas.  At another concert several years ago my husband and I had front row seats.  We went to use the restroom after the opening act, and by the time we came back, we couldn't even get to our front row seats.  When we started working our way through the crowd, YOUR fans were yelling at us.  When I told them we had front row seats and asked them where their seats were, their reply was "Keith don't care.  He says we can come down to the stage."  That's wrong!!  There's no debating how wrong that is.  Your fans will only listen to you, and you tell them to come down without giving one thought to the people who have seats in the first couple of rows.  It doesn't matter if they lucked out and got good seats through Ticketmaster or if they paid a high price through a broker.  They are entitled to not have your fans, most of which are irresponsible teenagers who think if you see them that they are going to get lucky with you, come shoving and pushing their way to the front.  They didn't pay for 4th row or 5th row.  They paid for 1st row, 2nd row, etc.  Most of your fans are immature, irresponsible, and have no regard for anyone they run over or who they are standing in front of.  Your target audience shouldn't be hormonal teenage girls.  Leave that to Bieber!!!  However, since you do attract a younger crowd, please, for the love of God, start telling them to act like adults and put a stipulation on which fans you let come up to the stage.  Someone is going to get seriously hurt, and if you encourage fans to come up to the stage, you are equally to blame as the fans who come charging in and hurt someone.  In fact, I can't just blame it on the young teenagers and 20-year-olds.  There are older fans that do it too because you say it's okay.  Most of your fans who appreciate your music and not JUST your looks, are getting fed up. 

Also, fans are standing on their seats because you tell them it's okay to do so.  Hello!!!  Not only is someone going to get hurt, but the people behind them cannot see.  Fans will not keep paying to go to your concerts if they are going to get trampled on or cannot see because of someone standing on their seat.  Is it going to take someone going to the hospital, or even worse, someone breaking their neck because someone standing on a chair falls on them before something is done?  Please, stop with the free-for-all.  I realize some country artists are going to general admission, and that is a horrible idea.  People are getting hurt at those too, and fights are occuring more and more.  Country music has evolved, but it doesn't mean the artists have to be irresponsible and do things that allow others to get hurt.  Save that for the rockers with mosh pits.  If your a teenage fan then I suppose they think it's cool, and if that's the kind of following you want (nothing but teens and 20s), then by all means go with the flow.  However, if you want a good fan base and good ticket sales without people getting hurt or cops breaking up fights, then speak up.  The ones who don't like it aren't worth having as fans anyway.  Your loyal fans will always be your fans unless you continue with this.  More and more of your loyal fans are starting to avoid your concerts because of everything I have just said.  This isn't the first time I have read this either on YOUR fan club website.  There are just more who are speaking up.  Your fans will continue to try and get as close as they can unless YOU set limits and let those limits be known to security so that they can stop this.  By the way, it isn't just senior citizens complaining of this on your website.  Many of your fans including ones in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc., are complaining.  The ones who aren't complaing and like the fact that you allow this will be all for what you do until they themselves or someone they are with gets hurt.  Lets not forget, their are elderly people, as well as kids at your concerts.  Do you really want a child to be harmed because your immature, hormonal crazed fans don't care who they run over?  Do you really want anyone to get hurt?  No?  Well, it's too late.  There have already been several hurt in the last few years at your concerts.  All you can do is start setting boundaries, i.e., only the first 2 rows are allowed at the stage.  Everyone else is to remain where their seats are.  If you don't, then that speaks volumes!!


A Fan

P.S.  I wanted to mention before you or your fans blame the behavior at your concerts on alcohol, that is not the problem here.  While alcohol may add fuel to the fire for some of your fans' behavior, it is not to blame for the majority of fans trying to get up front.  When reading through that thread, some acknowledge that the problem is because you tell fans they can do whatever they want, i.e., come up front by the stage, stand on their seats, and also tell security to not stop them from doing this.  However, there are also fans of yours that posted in that thread that they believe it's the alcohol that is the problem.  That is a bunch of crap.  For anyone who wants to dispute that, let them read the threads for your latest concerts.  You will see in many of the posts a statement that says something like "I managed to get up front."  What does that say?  It says that your fans worked their way in front of people so they could get as close as possible.  I've seen this in MANY reviews of your concerts on your Monkeyville forum.  Were those fans drunk?  Fans cannot blame this on alcohol and then turn around and do the exact same thing that they blamed on drinking.  That's a double standard if I ever did here one.  When other fans see a fan of yours post that they managed to get close or managed to get up by the stage, then other fans on your website need to call them out on it.  How many of your fans who manage to get good seats, i.e, first or second row, would tolerate others coming down and standing in front of them.  It's just wrong, and I hope that you read this, or at least someone you know reads this, and that you understand what is being done at your concerts.  I also forgot to mention that your ticket prices vary through Ticketmaster based on where the seats are at.  Do you think it's fair that someone who paid, for example, $25.00 for a seat is allowed to come down by the stage where those people paid $75.00 for a seat?  

Monday, August 27, 2012

How the general public view Keith Urban....

And this, my dears, is the general public's view of Mr. Urban...

The Sad Quest for a Country-Singing 'American Idol' Judge
By Anthony Easton

The long-running talent show badly needs a charismatic Nashville talent on its roster, but may have to settle for the blandest of the bunch: Keith Urban.

American Idol no longer dominates the TV talent-show universe the way it once did. The viewership for the final episode of its most recent season was down 26 percent from last year's, and its winning artists are not succeeding as pop superstars. NBC's rival upstart singing competition The Voice meanwhile, has been pulling in solid ratings with hipper judges across a variety of musical genres, and a format that encourages mentorship and experimentation.

Fox continues to hire new Idol judges—more famous judges, judges who are musicians themselves—and even this has not stanched the ratings loss. It's fascinating, though, to think through the rationale behind what does and doesn't make a suitable judge for each of these shows.

Last year, when Cowell was launching an American X Factor, he hired Britney Spears—who is a bit more famous and has more tabloid tentacles than The Voice's Christina Aguilera. But X Factor is still B-list, and you want someone with longevity, more fame, and more power for the august Idol—and so you hire J-Lo, and when J-Lo becomes dissatisfied, you spend weeks flirting with the press, laying out names, and finally settling on Mariah Carey, who has been singing for decades and still has a viable career.

One of the ways that 'Idol' might succeed is to play up its safeness--to inherit the Ed-Sullivan tradition of filming Elvis from the waist up.

Things get trickier where country music is involved. Idol needs a country judge. Its only relatively recent, genuine blockbuster, bigger-than-the-show superstar comes from country (Carrie Underwood). Most of its medium successes are country singers (Kellie Pickler, Scott McCrery). Even artists who started off as rock are now singing with Reba and moving to Nashville (Kelly Clarkson).

The Voice has had a country judge all along: the platinum-selling, Grammy-winning, Oklahoma native Blake Shelton. A few years ago, Shelton successfully retooled the aw-shucks image created in story songs like "Old Red" or "Austin" to embrace the aggro-redneck aesthetic that has become fashionable of late—making himself commercially appealing to a younger set.

Country upstarts were following his lead. (See Shelton in 2010 releasing a photo with a buck he shot and Jason Aldean releasing a similar image a year later). Shelton curses. He tells jokes that he shouldn't. His religious views are often ambiguous. He feels comfortable with the un-country-aspects of his fellow Voice judges: the Vegas-y pseudo-sleaze of Adam Levine and Cee Lo's voracious appetites for well, everything.
This week's news that Nicki Minaj may join the Idol judge's table reinforces the notion of Idol remaking itself in The Voice's image. Minaj checks the boxes of contemporary, "urban," and connected to both pop and hip-hop—and so does Cee-Lo. But she doesn't solve Idol's country problem. The show needs a country singer with a personality, who is as famous as Shelton, who has a substantive body of work, and is willing to work with Idol.

The list of singers who fit those criteria isn't that long. There's Reba McEntire, who has had 30 years in the business, but she thought she would be "too nice" and bowed out. There was discussion of hiring Toby Keith, who had the body of work, and could have functioned as the no-nonsense, low-bull ballast to the rest of the fairly friendly Idol cast, but he turned them down as well—though that might have been for the best, as he seems to be too much like Shelton, but with more political baggage.

For a while, it looked like Idol's producers could have gone in a completely opposite direction and hired Brad Paisley. His cornpone earnestness, rounded traditionalism, and experience with the tension between irony and sincerity—a tension that The Voice has rejected, and Idol has stumbled upon almost accidentally—could have offered a way for the show to separate itself from its competitors who are shouldering in.

But it appears that Idol will be opting for a purer, dumber earnestness, at least if you believe the reports that they are on the verge of hiring Keith Urban. The 44-year-old Aussie hunk singers shares Shelton's taste for sweeping ballads and emotional bloodletting, but the two men are fundamentally different public figures. Shelton has swagger; he moves his hips. Urban's talent and sexuality rest on a mushy seductive routine, where pleasure seems to be less about desire and more about a drowning in syrup. Shelton's view of pleasure, meanwhile, centers on more concrete, adult pursuits: sex, bourbon, and hunting.

Urban's a competent journeyman, with a one-dimensional public persona, who got lucky in Nashville. Part of that luck, it has to be said, has to do with his marriage to Nicole Kidman, a marriage that somehow—in contrast to other high-profile celebrity pairings—has only upped its members' blandness. Kidman's talents have caused at least one film critic to write an entire book about her, and she makes edgy and difficult choices. But rather than lending Urban that edge, she seems to have lost some by associating with him. Judging by the headlines over the past few weeks, Urban was the country-singer of last resort for Idol—as well he should have been. He offers nothing the other contenders brought to the table. You could argue that his lack of charisma works as an alternative to Shelton's excess, but Idol doesn't need less charisma. They just need a different kind of charisma: one that is patriotic, proudly unhip, that does not swagger—one that Paisley would have provided.

American Idol is a teenage show, a safe show. Occasionally it tries to be cooler, but its recent contestants—with the possible exception of Adam Lambert—are milquetoast. Think of the virginal Scott McCrery, or the folk revivalist Phillip Phillips, a Mumford and Sons clone who won't even cuss. Both of them are charming, sweet, and deeply unthreatening. Urban does not even manage this sweetness.

One of the ways that Idol might succeed, then, is to play up its safeness—to recognize itself as the inheritor of Ed Sullivan's tradition of filming Elvis from the waist up and not letting the Rolling Stones "spend the night together." Urban has the earnestness, but it's directionless and vague—a guilelessness generated by simply having no point of view. Paisley's earnestness has a direction, and that direction is pointed explicitly where Idol has gone and needs to go. 511/

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

From the UM Mailbag

Dear Urban Myths,
Did you see the article in the Tennessean about Keith firing his production team?

If I'm reading this right, he has fired Dann Huff and Justin Niebank, two of Nashville's most successful names in production. And these two were there, for the last 10 years, holding his hand whenever his personal life started to spin out of control. Huff especially took Keith into his family on a personal basis.

Maybe that big blowout that Keith mentioned between himself and Huff (on DG? On GC? I forget...) was a precursor. In any event, I'm fascinated by this turn of events. This is big. Nobody fires an award-winning, money-making team. Nobody.

Give the man his due for tearing everything down--again--and starting over.

If he puts together an album dedicated to his marriage and The Muse Who Saved Him, it'll tank. But if he really reinvents his music, it could be a completely fresh start for a man who'd grown stale.

The schedule for all this to be finished is problematic, tho. And the fact that after several months of writing, he has only 6 or 7 songs done. Not good. 

Urban Chat 15 shows him in the studio, writing AND recording a song at the same time. Lack of preparation?  Lack of time? Either way, also not good. And no guitar-wizard Huff to lean on. 

Or, very possibly, Huff is relieved to be gone from Keith's circle. It could be that he needed a fresh vista himself, and is now free of Keith and his needs/demands. Huff has too many other artists to contend with: Carrie, Rascal Flatts, and Faith (amongst others) in addition to new bands that he's championing, including his own daughter. He's in demand and has a full plate.  

So here's a possible correction to my first assumption: Was the split by mutual agreement? 

Or did Huff sit Keith down and ask to be released...

Who pulled the trigger?


A long time reader