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Keith Urban’s Reality Competition Past Helps Him Empathize With ‘American Idol’ Contestants

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Keith Urban is one of the most popular judges in the history of ‘American Idol,’ and he says he has a special connection to the contestants on the show.

“I think one of the things I’ve always loved about doing this show is that I did a few of them as a contestant when I was very young in Australia,” he explained to a group of reporters on a recent conference call. “When I was nine years old I went on a show called ‘Pot of Gold.’ Then there was another show called ‘Have a Go Show.’ There was another show called ‘Stairway to the Stars.’ For whatever reason my parents thought these shows were a good place for me to go to maybe not only hopefully get a leg up career-wise, but also get some advice and feedback, which I certainly did. Some of it’s pretty scathing. So I know what it’s like to be humiliated in front of everybody on TV.”

The footage above is from a show called ‘New Faces,’ which Urban appeared on in 1983. He performed Air Supply’s ‘All Out of Love.’ He says maybe it’s just as well that more footage doesn’t exist.

“I was thinking this morning, unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any of those performances. Then I thought it may not be unfortunate,” he admits with a laugh. “It may be a good thing I can’t find any of those. The only one that exists is when I was 16, and it was just a pretty average performance. But I have a lot of empathy for these guys and girls on the other side of the desk singing, and I do feel what they’re going through. Part of me enjoys it for being able to relate to them a lot. ”

Season 14 of ‘American Idol’ is set to launch with a special two-night premiere beginning on Jan. 7, 2015.

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