Keith Urban Reflects On Last ‘American Idol’ Season

'American Idol' starts last season starring Keith Urban

American Idol kicked off its 15th and final season last week. To hear Keith Urban tell it, the show doesn’t feel different—and there’s little sense this is the last round of auditions for the iconic talent search series. In an interview with The Tennessean, Urban revealed the one thing he’ll miss most about the show is being able to watch it with his young children.

“Having two kids 7 and 5, I’m going to miss that kind of show. They are into it. It’s good.”

“You get to work, and you’re in the zone. People are coming in and they’re singing. You’re critiquing. You’re doing all the things we’ve done every season. It would only be sporadically when someone mentioned it that I would be reminded that this is the last season. For me, it’s just going at it like it was the last three seasons.”

Ryan Seacrest, the last cast member to still be on American Idol 15 seasons later, told Entertainment Weekly that the family element is part of Idol‘s appeal. As much as the show was about the music industry, it was also family-friendly viewing.

“Everything we did, we did through the lens of people sitting in their living rooms with their teenagers or their kids, their husbands and their wives, watching this show together.”

Urban’s turn as judge on Season 15 is his fourth on American Idol, the third alongside Harry Connick, Jr., and Jennifer Lopez. EW noted the trio seemed like they would be strange bedfellows on paper, but really work on-screen. Seacrest said Lopez was always going to be back at the judges table—she took off Season 12, Urban’s first season—and said the men are “terrific guys, both talented, and both know so much about music.”

'American Idol' Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez
Urban told The Tennessean he watched the premiere with wife Nicole Kidman, who complimented the selection of contestants and questioned why the show is coming to an end. The country singer admitted he didn’t know why—and Seacrest, for his part, said simply, “we always knew we couldn’t do this show forever.”

While American Idol is getting underway, Urban’s career is being celebrated through an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame, called “Keith Urban So Far.” The Boot reported on a reception commemorating the exhibit’s debut, and Urban’s recollection of his transition from Australian musician to Nashville country star. He moved gradually between 1990 and 1992, leaving clothes at a friend’s house until he settled in permanently.

'American Idol' Keith Urban
It wasn’t until 1999 that he had his first number one single, “But for the Grace of God.” Urban was contemplative about his long wait for success—he described the country scene in 1989 as “hat acts everywhere,” and his style simply didn’t fit into any recognizable slot. Nonetheless, he decided to continue pursuing a career in country music.

“I was so out of place in 1989 … There were always those angels who kept me believing in myself.”

American Idol‘s two-part premiere came with the expected emotional moments. Fox59 reported on the story of Tristan McIntosh, who auditioned believing her military mom was still stationed overseas. After her performance, her mother surprised her by walking in the room. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Urban was brought to tears by an email sent by McIntosh’s mother, wishing her daughter good luck, read by Connick before the mother appeared.

American Idol will wrap up in April this year, shortening the season which normally extends into May. The program airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox at 8 pm.

[Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images Entertainment]