Tomorrow night sees the Las Vegas stage of this year’s American Idol brought to our UK screens, and Unreality TV were lucky enough to take part in a press conference held by new judge Keith Urban.
Keith is a multi-platinum selling country artist who, whilst entertaining the masses in several countries, is also one half of the Hollywood A-Lister couples with his wife, Nicole Kidman.
Keith was announced as one of this year’s judges alongside alpha-female singing sensations, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, and soon became the ‘scratching post’ between them as they feuded their way through the audition stages.
Renowned for being Mr Nice, Keith took the opportunity to discuss his tactics when it came to judging and guiding the acts on the hugely popular US talent show.
First of all he explained that, despite what people may think, he didn’t let the location of Las Vegas dictate his judgement, and said that he remains unbiased:
“I don’t feel it is any harder, certainly the audience reactions to our opinions make for a different kind of energy in the room. But for me I am still just trying to stay with my gut reaction, and give the contestants the best advice I can possibly give them and hopefully they get to go through to the next round.”
Speaking of the pressure put on all the contestants to find their own inner confidence, Keith continued:
“It’s tremendous, I never forget the environment they are working in to, that’s an extraordinary thing, especially when you are young and you are standing there in front of an audience of about 1700 people, with cameras, with people watching at home – and there you are, right in front of everybody with a very limited time to do your thing, I just have a tremendous amount of empathy for the environment they are working in as well, and I do take that into account.”
However nice Keith is, his reactions, comments and advice are all of a brutishly truthful and passionate nature, of which he explained:
“I’m like that in life. It’s hard because, particularly when there are the four of us up there, and like it was last night we had to use the tie breaker so with any amount of weighing in, I am only one voice of a few. So it is particularly hard if there’s someone I really like and vote for them and then all it takes is for the other three to say no and they are done. There is nothing I can do. I guess I just get connected with these artists and see something in them that I wish got the chance to shine a bit more the next week so it is hard when you see them have to go.”
Keith has become notorious in this series for being Mr Nice, but when asked if he planned on toughening up now the competition has intensified, he replied:
“I have been able to that when I needed to, I think every person handles every situation particularly differently, and I am just trying to get a feel for what the artist is comfortable hearing. But most of the time I am just trying to ask myself if what I am going to say is soul destroying or not helpful to them, I just don’t see any worth in that. I think I am trying to give specific direction, if it is something that they can work on, but that is just my opinion and not a fact, they can take it or leave it, but I try and deliver it in the way that I would like people to deliver it to me.”
There has been speculation recently that American Idol could take on mentoring roles in a similar way that the X Factor currently does, which is a concept that Keith might be interested in:
“I absolutely think it would be interesting. I think that is certainly something I would enjoy. It is a mixed blessing in some ways of how and why I would like it because I would like it more if it was not recorded, though that would completely defeat the object of the show. But I love that sort of mentoring dynamic – which is why I am involved in the Grammy kid’s camp too. There is just so much that we have to pass on, so many questions young artists have and a lot of learning curves we can help them not have to go through. Everyone has to learn by their own mistakes, I don’t mean protect them from that, but I do think there are a lot of habits that young performers have because of their age and lack of experience that you can actually help them with. So I would want to do it in a more quiet way, I don’t agree with people being too aware of that advice, it think it is a very dangerous thing unless it is a quiet thing from one artist to another to help them and the audience shouldn’t know anything about that.”
American Idol, the Las Vegas stage, can be seen Tomorrow at 9:00pm on 5 Star.
Watch Keith discussing the new series of American idol in the clip below: