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Interview with Keith Urban of "American
Idol" on FOX 2/20/13
FBC PUBLICITY: The American Idol Conference Call
February 20, 2013/10:30 a.m. PST
Moderator: Welcome to the American Idol Conference call. At
this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode.
Later, weíll have a question and answer session with
instructions given at that time. As a reminder, todayís
conference is being recorded. Iíd now like to turn the
conference over to our host, Ms. Alex Gillespie. Please go
A. Gillespie: Good morning, everyone, thank you so much for
joining us and welcome to the American Idol conference call
with Keith Urban. Just to remind you that American Idol airs
tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on
Tonight, the first group of female performers will sing for
America and then tomorrow night the male performers will.
Just a reminder also that our photos and our press releases
can be found on our press website at www.FoxFlash.com.
Without further ado, Iíd like to turn the call over to Mr.
K. Urban: Good morning, everybody. Weíre in Vegas this
morning and I just want to thank everybody for first of all
joining us and hopefully I can answer all your questions.
A. Gillespie: Great. Julia, weíll open the lines for
Coordinator: Our first question will come from the line of
Reg Seeton of the DeadBolt.com. Please go ahead.
R. Seeton: Now that the show is in Las Vegas is it harder to
be unbiased and not be emotionally invested in the singers?
How do you see it?
K. Urban: I donít feel itís any harder. Certainly the
audienceís reaction to our critiquing or opinions makes for
a different kind of energy in the room, but for me Iím just
trying to stay in the moment and just really give my gut
reaction, the way a performance hit me. Iím just trying to
stay on track with that and give them the best advice I can
possible give them and hopefully they get to go through to
the next round.
R. Seeton: And when you think about how you find confidence
as a singer, whatís itís like to watch the singers find
K. Urban: Itís tremendous. I never forget the environment
theyíre working in too. Thatís an extraordinary thing,
particularly when youíre young, 18 or whatever, and youíre
standing there in front of us, in front of all about 1,700
people that were in the theater last night and countless
millions watching at home, and there you are, right in front
of it, but youíve got limited time to do your thing. So I
have tremendous amount empathy for the environment that
theyíre working in as well and I do take that into account.
Coordinator: Next weíll go to the line of Brian Mansfield of
B. Mansfield: One of the things that Iíve really enjoyed
watching this year is the chemistry between you and Nicki
because the two of you clearly admire each other so much.
Did you guys know each other at all before this and was
there like a bonding moment where you realized that you were
going to really get along?
K. Urban: Iíd 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, Ryan, and Nicki and Mariah and
myself, Randy. We all went out and thatís the first time I
got to meet certainly Mariah and Nicki. Iíd met Ryan and
But the very next day when we got into shooting what I
really liked about Nicki was just her straight shooting
directism. For me, growing up in Australia I like being
around people that are just absolutely raw and straight and
tell it like it is. So I just kind of clicked with Nicki
right from the get go.
Coordinator: Next weíll go to the line of Gil Kaufman of MTV
G. Kaufman: One of the things weíve definitely noticed at MTV
this year is that the girls seem to be really strong. After
six years where we havenít had a female winner it definitely
seems like thereís been an emphasis on the female
contestants this year. Do you think that this could be the
year that that drought is broken and why do you think that
so far the girls have shown so much more strength and
versatility than the boys?
K. Urban: I think youíre right. All I can say is at least
from what we just saw last night itís absolutely a girlís
year to win, in my opinion. Thatís not to say the guys
arenít strong because they really are. Its really more a
testament to how strong the girls are this year.
I want to see the emergence of great artistry, male, female,
it doesnít really matter, but definitely the girls are
stronger. I donít know why that is. Itís just one of those
things. We saw probably over 270 people all up to get it
down to where we are today and the girls were just
incredibly strong this year.
G. Kaufman: Do you think that Mariah and Nicki have had any
effect on that? That having them on the panel and having
them have such strong opinions has made a difference as well
in that score?
K. Urban: I certainly think having somebody like particularly
MariahóInarguably one of the worldís great vocalists period.
This is a global vocal powerhouse and any girl, I think,
would love the opportunity to sing for Mariah and get
feedback from her and get direction from her. I think thatís
been a real plus for the show to have somebody like her on
Coordinator: Next weíll go to the line of Michele Angermiller
of Hollywood Reporter.
M. Angermiller: Let me ask you something. I noticed that
Angela Miller did an original song last week and I know that
some of the guys have not exactly done originals. Is it
totally up to them to do an original and do you think an
original song gives them more of an advantage when theyíre
performing for you?
K. Urban: Itís a good question. First of all, I think
obviously the original songs area allowed if youíve got
something that you feel confident with. Certainly in
Angelaís case she rightly had the confidence in a song like
that. I thought it was superb. Her performance was superb.
I think it really helped her, not just because it showed
that she can write, because thatís not a prerequisite in my
opinion, there are certainly an amount of great artists from
Frank Sinatra on down who never wrote songs, but I think to
see her confidence singing a song that she wrote was very
helpful for her.
For me 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.
M. Angermiller: Iíve noticed that youíre really out there
when you like somebody. Like when you were telling the
contestants last week about how you really fight for them. I
donít think Iíve ever heard anybody be that honest with the
contestants and everything. Were you like that in Australia
when you did the show?
K. Urban: Iím just like that in life. Itís hard. Itís the
four of us up there and in the case of last night, if
needed, we also had Jimmy Iovine to be tiebreaker. So
thereís any amount of people weighing in. Iím one voce of
quite a few and itís particularly hard if thereís somebody I
really like and I vote for them. All it takes is the other
three saying, ďNo,Ē and theyíre done. Thereís nothing I can
do. And 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. So thatís particularly hard
for me because I get connected with these artists and I see
something in them that I wish got a chance to shine a bit
more next week. Itís really disheartening to see them have
Coordinator: Next weíll go to the line of Lucie Raftery of TV
Guide. Please go ahead.
L. Raftery: Thanks for taking the time to do this. My
question was whom do you see as the frontrunners, both from
the guys and the girls, going into the Vegas round? And also
as an alternative to that, just going off of what you were
just saying, is there anyone who got eliminated in the
Hollywood round that you were particularly disappointed to
K. Urban: The first part of the question I still think itís
too soon to tell only because itís just extraordinary what
can happen from week to week, positive and negative. Iíve
watched people emerge sort of unexpectedly.
I mean there were some people singing last night that a few
of us are going, ďGosh, where did that come from?Ē That was
an unexpected performance last night. And it can the other
way too where someone has a lot of expectation from us and
weíre like, ďHere they go. We love this one. Sheís
fantastic,Ē and then they sing and weíre like, ďMmm, didnít
quite get there tonight.Ē
So I think itís far too soon to get any sort of front-runner
ideas. But I will say, certainly the audience reaction last
night to Angela Miller and a couple of other girls was
pretty obvious. I think the original song of Angelaís thatís
been floating around the Internet, that you can find, has
really resonated with a lot of people. So thatís pretty cool
L. Raftery: And the other part about anyone that you were
really disappointed to see go home after Hollywood?
K. Urban: Yes, there were a couple of people. Iím sorry to
say that their names are eluding me right now, but there
were a couple of people that I thought just needed a little
more time, in the right way, because thatís a particularly
tough week for people.
I think that environment is particularly tough. Having to
learn songs in a nanosecond, dance steps in a nanosecond.
Being with a group that you didnít choose to be in, etc.,
etc. Itís a really tough process. But at the same time, to
see what we saw last night emerge from that, itís very
possible to get through that and still be incredibly strong.
Coordinator: Our next question comes from the line of Alison
Bonaguro of CMT. Please go ahead.
A. Bonaguro: I wanted to know if Janelle Arthur would always
have a special place in your heart because she used a song
from the Ranch when she auditioned in Charlotte? So is she a
front-runner for you?
K. Urban: I love the fact that she did that. At the same time
I always think itís an extraordinarily bold thing to sing
one of our songs, particularly a Mariah Carey song. Iím
always just Ö that someone will come on and sing a Mariah
Carey song in front of Mariah Carey. Itís a huge honor. I
think there are a few more of my songs popping up,
apparently coming down the track. Iím looking forward to
A. Bonaguro: You were so nice when she sang that and youíve
been nice for so long. I feel like tonightís when youíre
going to have to get a little bit more critical. How are you
going to approach that?
K. Urban: I feel like Iíve been able to do that when I need
to. I think every person handles critiquing differently. Iím
trying to sort of get a feel for what I think the artist is
comfortable hearing, what theyíre not going to be
comfortable hearing. In most of the cases Iím just trying to
think if itís something I can say that isnítósomething
thatís just straight soul crushing and not helpful for them,
I just donít see any worth in it.
Iím trying to give specific direction, if itís something
they can work on. And again, itís just my opinion. Itís not
to say itís a fact. They can take it. They can leave it. But
I try to deliver it in a way in which Iíd like people to
deliver it to me. Again, itís really based on the person.
Coordinator: Our next question will come from the line of Tia
Montereal of OK Magazine.
T. Montereal: We are wonderingóAmerican Idol has millions of
fans and are your daughters two of them?
K. Urban: They actually came down to the state yesterday for
a little while. Nic and I love them being around that kind
of environment, watching people sing, watching them perform
and being around the music. Itís Ö being around that and
being around the movie sets since they were born. Theyíre
certainly music fans. They havenít watched the show yet, but
I have a feeling they will be this season.
T. Montereal: So you mentioned that theyíre definitely music
fans. Have any of them started singing a tune? Do you think
they have that musical promise that you and Nic both have?
K. Urban: I donít know. It certainly wonít be through lack of
access to it all. We have instruments around the house and I
sit at the piano and play with both the girls.
Just this morning I had the music cranked up during
breakfast and they would sort of eat a bit and then start
dancing around the floor and then go back and eat a bit more
and then dance a bit more. I just thought, ďWhat an awesome
way to start the morning, having a little food and dancing.Ē
T. Montereal: Last question, whatís the secret to getting on
Mariahís good side?
K. Urban: To getting on her good side, as a singer you mean?
Like if someoneís coming out to sing or whatever? Is that
what you mean?
T. Montereal: Yes, sure, and also as a fellow judge.
K. Urban: I donít quite know what you mean by getting on her
good side. I think Mariah responds to people in her own way.
I clicked with her the first time I met her.
I think thereís just sort of aófor me, Iíve always found
this immediate connection with signers and musicians in
general because Iím so used to playing in bands. Iíve been
in bands where weíve had guest artists come up and sing. So
for me, when I joined this panel I felt like I just joined a
band, you know, Iím on guitar. Randyís on bass, weíve got
two chick singers and this is our band. Thatís what it feels
like to me.
Coordinator: The next question comes from the line of Russell
Weakland of Hollywood Life.
R. Weakland: Do you take your work home with you and if so
does Nicole have any favorites that you two talk about or
K. Urban: Sometimes weíve watched the show, sat down and
watched it. Particularly it was funny watching the audition
rounds because they had happened so long ago. We would sit
down to watch them and Nic would be wanting to know, ďDoes
he go through? Does she go through?Ē
It was actually good to watch it like that because Iíd
gotten a bit of time away and getting to see them and hear
them like that was great. I wouldnít say I take my work home
with me, but if someone really stands out I certainlyóNic is
always curious if Iíve seen somebody that stands out.
Coordinator: Next weíll go the line of Elice Cuff of CMT
E. Cuff: I was just wondering, as the competition is kind of
starting to dwindle down could you see the show taking on
mentoring roles and is that something that you think would
K. Urban: I absolutely think it would be interesting. That
certainly is something I would enjoy. Itís a mixed blessing
in some ways why I like it because I would like it from the
standpoint of it not being recorded. That would kind of
defeat the whole point of doing a TV show, but I love that
mentoring dynamic. Itís why Iím involved in the Grammy Kids
Camp and that sort of thing too because thereís just so much
that we have to pass on.
There are so many questions young artists have and I think
thereís just a lot of learning curves we can help them not
have to go through, I would say this, without keeping them
from their own journey. Everyoneís got to make his or her
own mistakes too. Thereís never getting away from that. I do
think there are certain habits and things that young
performers do because of their age, because of the
adrenaline, because of their inexperience, that you can
actually be of help to them, but I would want to do it in a
more quiet way.
I donít like people being too aware of that advice. I think
itís a very dangerous thing when it gets too cerebral. I
think itís just a quiet thing from one artist to another to
help them and the audience shouldnít know anything about
that. So I guess to answer your question that kind of
thwarts that fact that it would be recorded, but I do love
the idea of mentoring.
E. Cuff: I love it. I just have a quick follow-up question.
If your North American tour were to kick off tomorrow, would
you be able to name a few contestants that you might take
K. Urban: No, itís too soon to tell, but there are certainly
a few in there.
Coordinator: And going forward can you please limit your
questions to one? Weíll go to the line of Ryan Gajweski of
R. Gajweski: Do you think that we might be in for another
country singer win, kind of like a Carrie Underwood type? Do
you have maybe a pick or two for someone who might fit that
K. Urban: There are a few in there for sure. Certainly Kree
is an extraordinarily gifted singer in an unusual way
because sheís so effortless in the way she sings. Thereís
nothing over the top, sort of big theatricalóthereís nothing
theatrical and large about her as a performer. She has this
incredibly authentic voice in the same way that Adele has
that incredibly authentic voice and I just believe her when
she sings. So sheís definitely a contender.
Coordinator: Next weíll go to the line of Rodney Ho of the
R. Ho: I actually interviewed you ten years ago when you
performed at Wild Billís in 2003. I donít know if you
remember that one. That was a decade ago. I was curious,
have you discussed with the producers or with Mariah or
Nicki to perform live on American Idol at some point either
solo or with one of the other two or with Randy?
K. Urban: Weíve been asked that question earlier on in one of
the press conferences if weíd be up for singing and I threw
my hand up and said, ďIím up for it. Letís go.Ē We were met
with arousing silence so I figured Iím the only guy. Iím
going to keep poking 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 I thinkóI just think it feels quite natural
for us to be able to do that.
Coordinator: The next question will come from the line of Hal
Boedecker of Orlando Sentinel.
H. Boedecker: How are you feeling about the live shows coming
up? Would you give me your impression of David Willis, whoís
from my area?
K. Urban: Davidís got a good voice. I think itís just
important that heówell, to some degree with everybody,
obviously the song choice is very important, but I think
David particularly because heís gotóhis tone is really
suited to certain songs and I think if he finds those heís
going to do really well.
What wast he other part of the question? Iím sorry.
H. Boedecker: How are you feeling about the live shows that
are coming up? Howís that going to be?
K. Urban: I think theyíre going to be great. Performing is
meant to be in front of people so already for me last night
having 7,900 people in that theater and a live band Iím
like, ďHere we go. Okay, now weíre doing this. This is what
itís supposed to be like.Ē I love the live part of it. Randy
shares that enthusiasm with me too. Itís what Iíve been
looking forward to since we started.
Coordinator: Next weíll go to the line of Rita Sherrow of
Tulsa World. Please go ahead.
R. Sherrow: I know that you are kind to the contestants and
youíre very honest with them. What do you think would help
K. Urban: What would help her?
R. Sherrow: Yes, go on, move on.
K. Urban: Well Iíve got a feeling that weíve done a pretty
good job of helping her to this point in the sense of
letting America see her extraordinarily unique gifts in full
flight. So past that weíll see what sheís got in store for
us because you never know. Sheís like a box of chocolates
right? You never know what youíre going to get.
Coordinator: Next weíll go the line of Sharon Yee of
S. Yee: We know that Nicole Kidman can sing. I heard her on
Moulin Rouge, love the movie. Will we ever see a duet
between the two of you?
K. Urban: I think the only one that you can find is on
YouTube when we inducted sort of Simon Baker into the Good
Day USA Hall of Fame. We put a little song together and we
both sang that for him, but past that, no I think nothing
professional. We just enjoy singing at home.
Coordinator: And Becca Walls from Envision Radio.
B. Walls: I was curious, when you were on The Voice in
Australia obviously the premise of that show is that itís
all about the voice but we often hear about the whole
package. Iím wondering, how much are you influenced at all
by not only performance and voice and presentation but
attitude, appearance and all those things? How much does
that whole package play into your decisions about who to
send through and who to not?
K. Urban: The reality is if it were only about the voice the
chairs would never spin around. Thereís a certain point when
the rest of it comes into play. It just does. The voice is
very important, obviously, because thatís the vehicle thatís
being used to carry the art and the expression and all of
that, the creativity. But in this day and age thereís more
to it than that.
Now having said that, Adele famously said, ďI make music for
the ears not the eyes.Ē Thereís a lot to be said for just an
extraordinary voice. It can make up for all the rest if itís
not there, as far as the entertainment aspect or the dancing
and all that sort of stuff.
There really isnít one rule across the board, but itís just
got to be the right combination I think for each person.
Someone who might have a lesser voice may have an
extraordinary charisma and presence and way about him or her
thatís just magnetic. As Jimmy Iovine said, ďIt just really
comes down to feel. How does that artist make me feel? Do I
feel something from that artist?Ē I think thatís really spot
Coordinator: Our last and final question will come from the
line of Steve Summers. Please go ahead. Kat Hobza, your line
K. Hobza: We kind of covered a lot of bases here so Iíll just
round it out with this. Your schedule is crazy busy right
now with concerts tours, appearances, being and Idol judge,
husband and dad. Do you have plans to take it down a notch
any time soon or are you in the zone for the time being?
K. Urban: I like the balance of it. Itís 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. I think like a lot of the times it looks
exponentially moreóit just looks more from the outside. I
think the way it actually works from day to day is navigated
a lot more peacefully than I think it would probably appear
on the outside. Thatís not every day certainly, but most
days itís balanced pretty well.
I have an extraordinary team around me because it really
does take a village. Iím certainly not doing everything on
my own. I just have tremendous thanks for all the help I
have to make all of this happen. And I have an extraordinary
wife in Nic whoís an amazing mother. She just does a
beautiful job of helping keep it all in balance.
K. Hobza: Thatís great. You guys are a real inspiration.
K. Urban: A day at a time. Thank you, sweetheart.
Coordinator: Alex, Iíll turn it back over to you for closing
A. Gillespie: Thank you so much, Keith, for taking the time
to do this conference call. We really appreciate the time.
For everyone else on the call we just wanted to again thank
you for joining us today and a reminder that American Idol:
The Sudden Death Round airs tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m.
Eastern and Pacific on Fox. If you need press materials,
photos and press releases they can be found at our Fox Flash
Without further ado, thank you all for joining us. We
appreciate your time today.
K. Urban: Thank you very much, everybody, and thank you,
Coordinator: Ladies and gentlemen, this conference will be
made available for replay after 2:00 p.m. today through
February 27th at midnight. That does complete our conference
for today. Thank you for your participation and for using
the AT&T Executive TeleConference Service. You may now
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