I’ve realised a couple of things since I started this blog post series over a year ago. One: I am totally unprepared, in a general sense, for these blog posts, and I don’t pretend to know more than I do know at any one moment. I am but an amateur in terms of knowing about these artists, or these songs for that matter. I try and fumble through each and every week, sometimes I write more on one artist than another, sometimes I connect with an artist and their music more so than another, and I try and write my two cents. At the end of the day, hopefully I gain some kind of wisdom or appreciation for music that for me, is outside my comfort zone. For this blog post list is merely my own opinion, and various other artists outside the list, could easily, on any other given day, be inside. And that’s just life. Second: I am continuously amazed, impressed and inspired by the music I’ve heard over the last year or so, that I’ve noticed that lately, I am challenged and confronted, comforted and encouraged, and just plain reminded of how God can use anything and anyone, including music that I may not have listened to that much throughout my own life, or music that I may not initially enjoy, from artists that may not have been on my radar to begin with; to bring about my own good and His glory, as I learn more about myself, Himself, about love, life and the intricacies in between. For this week’s blog, I am embarking into the realms of Australian music once again- and with artists prior to this week that I’ve delved into that are Australian, from Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, The McClymonts and the Newsboys, to for KING AND COUNTRY, Hillsong and Tina Arena; I have again put my hand into the proverbial hat of the plethora of Australian music artists at my disposal, and I’ve since pulled one out- Keith Urban.
Yes, it’s about this time again, when I delve into country music for everyone who has read my blogs, so that they know once again that I am loving country music recently…no seriously, this week I am talking about Keith Urban, who was once a country artist, but now seems to describe himself as an ‘all-genre’ artist. Born and bred in New Zealand before moving to Australia as a teenager, we Aussies love to claim New Zealanders as our own- not only Keith have we claimed as Aussie, but also actor Russell Crowe, actress Rebecca Gibney, even singer-songwriter and pop star Stan Walker; all of which have been born in the land across the ditch and have moved to the Great South-land at one point in their lives or another. Keith’s down-to-earth personality (from interviews I’ve seen on youtube), and his amazing ability to play the guitar, while also delivering country songs in a great ‘southern-states-of-America’ twang, is just some of the many, many things that are going for him at the moment- plus, I’m sure being married to Aussie actress Nicole Kidman doesn’t hurt his popularity either. Regardless of how he has received his popularity and from where, Keith has been giving to us powerful and emotive songs since his formal self-titled debut way back in 1999, and while in 2020 he’s about to release his new album later on during the year; for me it has been some of his older songs that have been impactful, not only for me but for I’m sure a lot of people who have been fans of his music for quite some time. Keith’s honesty in a lot of his music is what makes it appeal so much to a lot of people- and the fact that many of the many of his songs are of a spiritual/religious/faith-based slant as well, is what I believe can be used, by God Himself, to impact and affect people’s lives, even when they don’t know it themselves- and I’m sure his songs have been touching and creating a positive change in people right from his album release in 1999 till now.
From earlier songs like ‘Somebody Like You’, ‘But For the Grace of God’ and ‘Days Go By’, to his newer melodies like ‘God Whispered Your Name’, ‘Coming Home’ and more recently (as of just a few days ago) the song ‘Polaroid’; Keith’s music has been speaking to the hearts and homes of people around the world for a little more than 2 decades. While as of now he may not be the most popular artist within the country music industry (even though he certainly was before!)- leave that right now to artists like Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton, Dan + Shay, Maddie + Tae, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris; Keith is still pressing on to make music that means something to someone- with the range of topics discussed in his songs being as broad and wide as possible so that the melodies can speak to whomever is needed at that certain point in time. From unending love and heartbreak, loss and hurt, to having a good time, fighting for people and filling everything in our days that count and matter because the days roll by like a click of a finger, are just some of the many themes that have universal applications for whoever hears such melodies. Entering into his 3rd decade in music, Keith has no plans of slowing down, and while at times he has moved from country, to pop, to synth percussion, and everything else in between, his heart for music and connection and bringing people together to achieve something through music hasn’t changed.
Whether his songs are deep, meaningful and heartfelt, or his melodies are upbeat and speak about enjoying life and having a good time, or its about social and political issues like the song in the last couple of years called ‘Female’ (that was inspired by the Harvey Weinstein #MeToo scandal), Keith has used his music as an outlet for people to feel things at certain points in their life. In the business to the point where it could seem like he’s part of the furniture, his presence not just in country music but in music overall is certainly changing the landscape of music in a way where songs now are as a medium for dialogue and discussion to be taking place, without pointing fingers, but rather, a ‘sit-down-and-let’s-talk-about-this’ discourse rather than one-sided babble. Keith in my opinion is by far one of Australia’s most successful acts, an artist that brings his true self to the table as songs are created from personal experience and other people’s stories, rather than just having melodies that are indeed vapid and nonsensical. Regardless of your own personal view on Keith, and whether you believe he is indeed deserving of being in a top 100 influential artist list, one cannot deny his happy-go-lucky attitude, and his ability to create songs that are indeed the soundtrack of people’s lives as they move from season to season. Keith is very much an artist that creates not for creating sake, but creates to bring people along in a journey of self-discovery and introspection, and an artist I believe that is going to make a huge impact and mark on society as a whole, even long after he has moved on to do something other than music whenever the time occurs.
Keith’s music has always been a source of hope and inspiration over the years, and ever since his self-titled debut album in 1999, we have seen the scope of Keith’s song writing skills in a myriad of melodies that speak to the soul about a various amount of issues pertaining to people who hear them. ‘It’s a Love Thing’, from Keith Urban in 1999, was Keith’s first radio single from his debut, and with a harmonica and a light acoustically-driven country sound, Keith invites us to understand that the reasons people may feel the way they do in the presence of another, is because of this ‘feeling’ called love, that we often can’t explain, but know that this complex emotion is often responsible for us doing stupid things sometimes, and things people may think of as crazy or out-of-left-field. ‘It’s a Love Thing’ is simple in its music delivery, and not really all groundbreaking musically, but nevertheless, it was a decent radio hit during that time, and a song that put Keith on the map in the realms of country music. ‘Your Everything’, continues along the relationship-vein of ‘It’s a Love Thing’, and showcases a love between people that is seen by listeners of the song as being ‘unconditional’- as we see that love in its purest sense of the word, encourages us to be better for the other person, that when we see how much love we have been given by the other, often undeservingly, we can’t help but be everything that we can that they long for us to be. As I myself reflect upon this song, I can’t help but think about how this reaction given by Keith, ought to be a similar one that we should have when we realise how much the God in heaven has sacrificed and given to us freely so that we can be reconciled back to Him- His very Son, dying by the way of a cross, and then rising again 3 days later to pay the death debt that we have owed God since the very beginning. ‘Your Everything’ is a reminder of how grateful I know I am for God’s sacrifice to us, and a song that should hopefully remind us all about the maker, whenever we hear it. But for me personally, I’ve felt that the song ‘But for the Grace of God’ is one of his more ‘spiritual’ melodies, and a reminder to continuously count your blessings, and be thankful for the life that you have lived and have experienced, as we understand that more often than not, being in a state of gratitude and thankfulness is something that we aren’t naturally in. Rather, we often whine about this and that, and Keith’s song is a way for us to re-centre and understand that it is often by God’s grace freely given to us that we can stand today and be where we are. Call it grace, undeserved favour, a call upon our life, or even luck, chance or destiny (whatever you want to place a name to it), you understand that where you are right now isn’t by pure coincidence. Giving thanks and having a heart of gratitude and staying humble is what grounds people in life, and is something that I know the human race, myself included, needs to be better at practicing, and hopefully, ‘But of the Grace of God’ can be the catalyst for positive change and a realignment in how we see our circumstances, both now and into the future.
I think the first song that I even heard from Keith was his 2002 radio hit ‘Somebody Like You’- it was playing frequently on my local radio station Hope 103.2 (back then I think it was called FM 103.2: The Heart of Sydney). And I also think that this song ‘Somebody Like You’ was a way for Keith to gain a lot of exposure not just from the country music industry, but from the music industry period- because apart from the Southern-accent-country voice (not sure why he tries to emulate that style, even though he is a New Zealander/Australian), and the banjo in the background; ‘Somebody Like You’ doesn’t really sound that country. I mean, the banjo could easily be replaced with an electric guitar, and the song could’ve been released to pop radio just the same. The result- a song with a lot of crossover appeal, and quite possibly one of Keith’s biggest radio hits in his whole career, as the song gives us hope that we can find someone to love, the way that they love us- someone who sees the best in us that we may not see for whatever reason. The real reason Keith himself wrote this song was that he wanted to love himself and see himself as other people saw him, while he also relayed to us that ‘…I would write these songs about love and relationships; I remember writing ‘Somebody Like You’ and I remember playing it for my girlfriend at the time and she just looked at me and said, ‘you’re a…hypocrite’ – and I couldn’t argue that. And I realized I was writing from all these places of the kind of person I wished I could be. I wasn’t that person, but I wanted to be. It was only a song, but my real life was a disaster…’ ‘Someone Like You’ is a moment of realisation that we want to be loved unconditionally and we want to love unconditionally, and even though we may not be at that place yet, a song like this one can hopefully get us along the way there. ‘Someone Like You’ also birthed songs aplenty about love and relationships and the long-lasting nature of what a committed relationship between two people should look like- ‘Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me’ continues along the thankfulness/gratitude avenue, as Keith understands that often in life, it may not work out as you would like, but if you have the people beside you that you love, then the problems and issues may not look as grand as we initially think; while ‘You’ll Think of Me’ is a raw, unfiltered, honest look an a man’s journey after their significant other cheats on them with another. While we don’t know whether such a song as this is based upon something personal to Keith or not, what we do know is this- often it may take some time to get over something as a break in trust (through cheating) and sometimes the best thing for that person is to leave the cheater behind and heal through time- while we know that in most cases, couples should work out their differences, things like repeated cheating and even domestic violence can be an exception.
‘Days Go By’, from his 2004 album Be Here, presents a happier tone compared to a few of his earlier songs, as Keith shows us a ‘cape-diem’-style track as we’re reminded of how time rolls on and stops for no man, and that ‘…days go by, I can feel ’em flyin’ like a hand out the window in the wind, the cars go by, yeah it’s all we’ve been given, so you better start livin’ right now, cause days go by…’; while songs like ‘You’re My Better Half’ and ‘Making Memories of Us’ devotes his love to his significant other, specifically during that time when the song were recorded- his wife Nicole Kidman- ‘Your My Better Half’ highlights the importance of having the person who knows you the most (your spouse) right by your side through difficult and enduring situations, while ‘Making Memories of Us’ is a wedding-style song complete with light acoustics, and a track that Keith himself sang at the wedding of himself and Nicole in 2006. Though not a single, ‘God’s Been Good To Me’, a song from Be Here that has been cycling through my Spotify playlist of Keith’s music throughout the week, is nevertheless an underrated song from his 2004 album that speaks of how grateful he is for God being so good to him in a way that only he can know that it is through the divine that he can be where he is, while songs like ‘Better Life’ (life being full of uncharted waters, and that the hope we have for a better life in the future is grounded in the faithfulness of what has occurred in our lives in the past because of God our Father), ‘Tonight I Wanna Cry’ (days where we just want to cry because of things in our lives, and that the healing process that comes with time doesn’t have to be rushed) and ‘These Are the Days’ (slowing down and not running through life too fast because our days that clock over aren’t the one’s we’re gonna get back) continue to personify Keith Urban’s early years in the country music business- all these three songs, all from Be Here, remind us all that this particular album, by far, is one of Keith’s most successful album to date (the others, I reckon, being albums like Ripcord, Defying Gravity and Fuse).
As Keith continues to deliver song after song of radio hits and chart-topping singles, we are reminded that country music and its genre are in good hands with the heartfelt songs that Keith has brought to the table of discussion as we hear emotion and vulnerability take centre stage in melodies that speak to the heart of what relationships, both steady and unsteady, are to the majority of the population who have heard Keith’s songs throughout his career. ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’, a cover of Leo Sayer’s song from the 1980s (that was also covered by popular British artist Phil Collins in 2002), is a song given the ‘country’ treatment by Keith, that reminds us all to speak up and say the things that’s in our hearts now. If we have feelings for another, we ought to speak them with grace, dignity and respect for the other, all the while understanding that once we confess how we feel, our weights can fall down and we can be free of what has maybe been plaguing us for some time. ‘Once In a Lifetime’, a standout on 2006’s Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing, is a reminder that sometimes people share a special connection, and that when we all find this ‘once in a lifetime love’- hopefully the person that we will marry one day, it is then that we hold on to them tight and cherish the special relationship we have with the other- Keith’s song is personally inspired by his own relationship with Nicole Kidman; while ‘Stupid Boy’, quite possibly the longest song that Keith has ever recorded, is a warning to all the young men who have a tendency to stuff up their own relationships with well-rounded and good-natured women, all because they want to be right, or they want certain things out of a relationship that may seem to the outsider as being short-sighted and stubborn. ‘Stupid Boy’ speaks of the mistakes people make in pushing people away that you would otherwise hold close, and we are asked to look at ourselves to see if we are unintentionally doing the same, for whatever reason. ‘I Told You So’ speaks of a love between a man and a woman, and a reminder that even if people on both sides do utterly shameful things because of rash decisions and assumptions that place them in positions they don’t want to be in; the other still begs them to come back home, as Keith himself declares ‘…just come back home, no, don’t say that you’re sorry and I won’t say ‘I told you so’…’, while ‘Everybody’, again a long song at 5:34, is a telling and heartfelt revelation that we all need people around us during difficult seasons of our lives, and that even if we try to run from connection and from heart-to-heart conversations because we’re afraid of what the other might find about ourselves, Keith still gives us the hope that community and fellowship with one another is one of the most important things we as people need. Often when we’re running away and pushing back all the people in our lives that want to help us, that is when we need them the most.
Throughout the rest of his music career, Keith has delivered songs that heal and songs that dig deep and challenge our own preconceptions of ideas and other things, while also presenting to us fun-filled joyous songs of hope and laughter. ‘Sweet Thing’ is inspired by his own courtship and romance with Nicole Kidman and speaks of the innocence of young love in the early stages of dating and courtship, while ‘I’m In’, a cover of country singer Radney Foster’s chart-topping song, is presented by Keith in a country-pop atmosphere as the theme of sticking by someone and offering the services of being a friend in a time of need is brought to the fore. ‘Til Summer Comes Around’ is a sad song that can mirror a lot of people’s lives- telling a story of a man and woman who fall in love in an amusement park one summer, we see the relationship take a turn for the worse when the woman says that she’ll be back but she never does- he waits and waits for her but the reality is that she’s never coming back. A reminder, albeit a sad one, that happy endings for couple’s aren’t necessarily guaranteed, the song also acts as a warning, to never promise things you can’t keep, and to only start relationships and friendships when you are absolutely certain that when you give someone your word, you can keep it. Keith also imparts to us heartfelt wisdom and powerful poignancy in pre-release track (for Gravity) ‘Call My Name’, a cover of Third Day’s chart-topping radio single from their own 2008 album Revelation, and a melody that has a lot of faith connected to it- original artists Third Day have created a song where the persona is at the end of his rope, calling out to God to come rescue the situation and bring about hope, healing, friendship and relief from pain because of situations they have been in. Keith also presents to us melodies and heartfelt songs from Get Closer, arguably Keith’s album that is seemingly ‘forgotten’ by many. Regardless, there’s still a fair amount of songs that are standouts. ‘You Gonna Fly’, a motivational song from Keith to another person (maybe a friend or a lover), is a song of encouragement, as Keith encourages his friends/lover, that they have so much potential within them, hat they’re gonna fly if they just believe they can- you can have all the greatness in you, and have all the talent in the world, and be the best at certain things, but if there’s no belief that you can actually do it, then creativity is stifled and dreams a squashed, all because of an inability to move into the unknown because of worry and uncertainty. ‘Without You’ is an acoustic ballad and an ode to the people in Keith’s life- especially his wife, unveiling that he wouldn’t be where he is in his life, without her; while ‘Put You in a Song’, the first radio single from Get Closer, is for all the nerds and people in love with girls that the guys could see as unattainable- popular girls in schools, or just girls that exude a confidence that maybe the nerds don’t necessarily have. Nevertheless, this song is a way to get guys who are odd and different, some kind of cred and confidence as they navigate the love-life scene and wanting a connection that sadly, this mainstream life doesn’t really give them (it usually rewards the jocks and the stuck-up bad-boy manly types, in the case of schools and colleges).
Fuse, Ripcord and Graffiti U are the three remaining albums in Keith’s musical repertoire and catalogue, and each of these albums show Keith delivering some of the most heartfelt and vulnerable songs he’s ever released, but also at the same time releasing some of his most fun-filled joyous songs about life and just living it to the full. ‘Raise ‘Em Up’, a duet with up-and-coming country superstar Eric Church, from Keith’s 2013 album Fuse, is a ‘cheers’ type song, a song where we say ‘here’s to the future’ as we’re reminded that as a unity group of people who share a common thread of living life in a certain country (in the song’s case- America), we are called as people in that country to stand up for our beliefs, and what we know is true. ‘Raise Em Up’ is a reminder to make sure values aren’t eroded, and that love and family are fought for, and not compromised in place of fame, fortune and money; while ‘Little Bit Of Everything’ challenges us to dream big dreams, to want to undertake and do things in our futures that we may not think is possible now, to want to aspire to undertake this and that, and long to do ‘everything’, a challenge that can hopefully lead us to a continual lifetime of learning and growing in our craft and skills that we attain from life itself. ‘Shame’, as raw and as honest as this 3:03 song is, tries to peel back and envelop down the concept of shame, and speak about a topic that would otherwise be swept underneath the rug. To feel shame and to think you’re not good enough in this life because of what you think about yourself or what someone has spoken over you, is a universal thing, and though such a song as this doesn’t offer any redemption to rid ourselves of the shame we cling to (I know in my heart that God rids us of the shame we carry through the person and Son of God which is Jesus!),the song still challenges and allows to look within ourselves and see if there are things in our own lives that we are shameful about, and what we know we need to do in order to take steps to tackle this topic. Keith also teams up with country artist Miranda Lambert in radio single ‘We Were Us’, a song where both personas, depicted through Keith and Miranda, lament about a love lost because of things done on both their parts, while the song ‘Come Back to Me’, not a single on Fuse, is nevertheless a hard-hitting song, that speaks of the persona who has realised that what he’s doing in a relationship with the other person is holding her back, unintentionally- he then gives her the freedom to explore things of her own outside of the relationship, to travel the world and to do the things that she needs to do, because extending the invitation to come back to him if she feels led to do so. While for me this song feels like the persona (man) is giving up on a relationship, all the expense of the woman ‘finding herself’, the song nevertheless challenges us to see if there are people we unintendedly are holding back, and whether we need to give them permission to be free from that, and to explore the world if they want to.
Ripcord, I reckon, is one of Keith’s most rounded albums of late, just like how Be Here was a rounded album in his earlier part of his career. ‘John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16’ is the first single from the album, speaks of all the influences on Keith Urban’s life, and how certain elements of his past impact him and shape his own outlook on life far more positively than he things, and some things negatively. The song itself is our own catalyst for us thinking about who has influenced our own lives when we were younger, and what things in our childhood have shaped us to who we are today, and why; while ‘Gone Tomorrow, Here Today’, the first track on Ripcord, sets the tone for the entire album as Keith sports a ganjo (a banjo and an electric guitar infused together) in a song that challenges us to make the most of every day, considering that the song itself was inspired by the death of Keith’s own father at the end of 2015. ‘Wasted Time’ challenges us to rethink what determines whether a day is good, and whether the ‘wasted’ time we think we often undertake in a day is just time where we unwind, relax, recharge and contemplate about life- all things we know we should do, but often don’t because of our busy schedules. Thus, ‘wasted time’ is what we call such a time where we reflect, because we often think that by not doing something, we see time as being ‘wasted’. ‘Blue Ain’t Your Colour’ paints a scenario where the persona (a guy) sees a girl from afar at a bar who looks unhappy because of the guy she is with, and the story goes off from there. In the song, its all but assumed that the persona approaches this girl and speaks certain truths into her life, but herein lies the point- is that necessarily a wise thing to do, especially to someone that is considered a stranger? Maybe, maybe not, but this song in particular reminds me of when we see certain situations not right, and we have a prompting, often by the Holy Spirit, to speak into someone’s life and over someone’s situation. Whether or not we’ll do it is a different story, nevertheless, the song is a reminder that there are plenty of people who are hurting wherever we are, and we as ambassadors of Christ can bring light into a situation of darkness- it’s just a matter of whether we’re willing to follow the Lord’s call or not. ‘Worry ‘Bout Nothin’, the last song on Ripcord, really gets to the heart of real relationships versus money and possessions, and reminds us that money doesn’t buy real, good, healthy, dialogue-y relationships that connect on a soul level, as we understand that friendships and romantic relationships for life are worth so much more than the money and things we amass; while the song ‘The Fighter’, featuring fellow country artist Carrie Underwood, is by far one of Keith’s most popular songs within the last five years, and features Keith and Carrie taking turns in singing a song that speaks about a woman’s worth, especially in a situation where the guy she’s currently with cannot see such a treasure that she is. ‘Break on Me’, Ripcord’s second radio single, is a song that is for me personally a standout, and a reminder to always be there for each other, as friends, or as significant others in a relationship, especially during the moments where hardships and difficulty come- it is in the moments of dire need where we find the people that are truly our friends, or we become the friends for the other person. It is when we see other people deserting us during our pain and see the people standing by and remaining with us, that we can truly understand who our friends have been all along.
Graffiti U released in 2018, and though for me it felt like this album was a little disjointed (not on purpose) and I didn’t connected with the songs as much as I did with albums previously, the album itself still is good, and is a reminder that even if albums come and you don’t connect to it like you initially think you should’ve or wanted to, the album still means something to someone, and songs still speak and impact and change people’s lives, regardless of whether you yourself connect to the song or not. On Keith’s 2018 album, we see him branch out into musical styles and genres that isn’t ‘typical’ for a country artist, but then by 2018 and we see Keith’s music evolve, we can safely say that by definition, Keith isn’t really a country artist, but rather, an artist that uses country music as one of his many musical genres to bring to the fore issues of hope and justice, of love and peace, universal themes that tug at the heart and makes his music so necessary and relevant to the society of today. Graffiti U is an ‘issue’ album, and at the heart of it is the theme about running your own race- or in the case of the album, riding your own wave; a reminder that we are at our best when we don’t focus on other people and worrying about trying to please this person and that, rather, to just to your own wave (in using surfing terms) as we focus upon pressing forward and leaving behind all the doubters and naysayers. This is exactly what ‘My Wave’, one of the singles from the album, is about, and is a perfect song used for introspection and contemplation, as we see if there are people in our own lives that are just trying to bring us down just because. ‘Parallel Line’, co-written with pop star Julia Michaels and British pop sensation Ed Sheeran, is a vulnerable track of being open and honest and laying everything down on the ‘parallel’ line for someone who may or may not reciprocate their feelings…that’s a very vulnerable thing to do, and that’s a very Ed Sheeran-esque song as well, when we look at his own discography of heartfelt songs, from ‘Photograph’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’, to ‘Perfect’, ‘Happier’ and ‘How Would You Feel’, to name a few. ‘Never Comin’ Down’ speaks of the confidence and the energy that someone gains (and hopefully keeps) when you’re in the presence of people at a party or at a concert, or in a big large gathering, all the while understanding that you need to be yourself and to be free to express it in a way that connects you to people around you in a ‘we’ve-got-this-in-common’ kind of way, and though for me the song itself wasn’t one that connected that well, it still is meaningful and applicable to someone out there, especially someone who may not fit in with the crowd.
‘Coming Home’, featuring pop singer-songwriter Julia Michaels, is a reminder for all of us of the necessity of being home during moments of recuperation and relaxation, that home is a place of security and comfort, and that there are many times during our lives where we may feel like we need to be home because of one thing or another; while personally I reckon the backbone of the album, and also the backbone for a lot of the songs that Keith has written and recorded thus far, all has been inspired by the song called ‘Female’, the first radio single form Graffiti U, and a song that according to Keith, lifts up and champions women and females in general, in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations the saga that has come out of it, through the #MeToo movement that has brought a lot of healing to a lot of women recently. While for me I did feel a little bit of a disconnect with the song, because I am not female (and I may believe that some females- not all, but some- can abuse #MeToo and make crazy allegations just for kicks and fun), the song nevertheless gets to the heart of being a female in a society that is still male-dominated, and in an industry where the #MeToo campaign is happening. I know Keith’s heart was in the right place when the song was written and recorded, yet, somehow I feel like Keith was actually the wrong person to sing the song- maybe in light of all the things that were happening at the time, it may have been better if a female sung the track…who knows? Nevertheless, Keith’s message is still the same- to lift up women and to respect and honour their place in society, now more than ever because of their vulnerable state and the state of society at this current moment. ‘Female’ is not my own favourite song, but nevertheless it is a song that’s necessary for discussion and a conversation to take place about these types of issues that keep coming up in society.
Then we’re taken into 2020, where Keith himself has released two new songs in ‘God Whispered Your Name’ and the more recent ‘Polaroid’- a song unveiled to us as new as 2 days ago. ‘God Whispered Your Name’ came out at the end of February, and featured Keith on a lightly acoustic slow-ish ballad that doesn’t really resemble a country song at all, but still is a classy and timely reminder of the change he has undergone throughout his life- and how he stands before us to declare that his significant other has changed him for the better (ever since the point where God Almighty above has ‘whispered her name’). While Keith himself didn’t write the song, CCM artist Christ August (along with a few other writers) did- and all throughout the song, this notion of a redemptive love that comes when someone loves someone else unconditionally, is an ode to Chris’s Christian faith, and a reminder that often when such a change occurs in someone’s life, it can only be attributed to the divine. ‘Polaroid’ is a song as new as last week, and is a song that speaks about reminiscing about the past, and looking upon the now and the future with fondness because of the memory that has been brought to the surface because of this polaroid picture. A moment where we understand and realise that because of certain events in our past, who we are now is totally different (maybe in a good way?) to who we were back then; ‘Polaroid’ incorporates a unique way of filming the one-shot video, with a few stop-motion techniques that would’ve made the music video of ‘Polaroid’ one of the most difficult Keith had to make throughout his whole entire career of making music videos. Nevertheless, both ‘Polaroid’ and ‘God Whispered Your Name’ are a big departure from his country-music days, and though this could mean that he gets some flak for the expansion of his musical genre, I reckon the 2 styles of his new songs are different and unique, and are just what is needed for new listeners to be brought along the journey of Keith Urban and his music. With these two songs hopefully leading into a brand-new album by Keith culminating possibly at the end of the year (or maybe next year because of coronavirus), what has transpired is something on more of a spiritual/faith-based plane, as we see a more introspective Keith because of his years in the business, as we understand that everything that has transpired has made him better for it.
While Keith’s main contribution to society, culture and music has been within the country music industry; Keith still has been very active outside of music too, as a reminder to us all that sometimes the things outside of music can be of a greater impact than what has been attained inside it. For a few seasons, Keith contributed to two singing shows- The Voice Australia’s first season and American Idol’s ‘Farewell’ 15th season on FOX before the show took a year’s hiatus to come back as a reboot for season 16 on ABC. Keith was also heavily involved with the recent Global Citizen: Together At Home project that saw a telecast of 2 hours of artists coming together to appreciate and commemorate people in essential work services fighting in the front-lines against this coronavirus pandemic- Keith himself contributed by way of a cover of Steve Winwood’s ‘Higher Love’. For Keith has always over the years been a down-to-earth guy, and his willingness to be a part of these extra-activities, be it being a judge for a talent show, or lending his own vocal and guitar talents to that of a cover on a coming-together-of-artists-against-an-invisible-enemy; it is thereby a reminder for all of us to use whatever talents you may have available for the betterment of society and the worlds you all live in. Keith’s music has impacted a lot of people, and songs like ‘Somebody Like You’, ‘But for the Grace of God’, ‘Wasted Time’, ‘Days Go By’ and even Keith’s cover of Third Day’s ‘Call My Name’, have all been impactful and instrumental in my life of late, as we see the transformation of Keith from an exclusive country artist, to now becoming more of an everyday-artist, someone that can create songs of different genres, if needed, to meet people who enjoy various other musical styles, where they are at. Songs have the power to transcend culture, languages and even societal norms and expectations, but they can only do so if artists are willing to step outside their own comfort zones, and take risks and chances on songs, maybe even singing a song in a genre that they themselves may not feel comfortable in, just so that the message of positive change can be reached to someone across the globe. Keith has indeed managed to step outside of his own comfort zone, even moving from Australia to America at a younger age, to make such a dream happen. People’s lives are changed by music, and I’m sure Keith’s has changed a lot of people. Here’s hoping that his next album, whatever that may be, whenever that may be; can change people in a way that has never been seen before in his music. Keith has been around for ages. And maybe he’ll continue to be. But regardless of what happens because of this coronavirus season, one thing is true, that music can still be active and changing people’s lives, long after the artist is active in the industry- it is true of artists like The Beatles, Queen, The Beach Boys and The Bee Gees; and it’ll be certainly true of Keith’s music, when all is said and done.
Does Keith Urban and all his music make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Best Influential Artists of All Time’ list? Is there any song, like ‘Days Go By’, ‘Somebody Like You’ and ‘But For the Grace of God’; that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!