You’ve Got to See Keith Urban Break Down His Pitbull Collab, ‘Sun Don’t Let Me Down’
Keith Urban's "Sun Don’t Let Me Down" from his new record Ripcord is a bit of a left turn for the artist, but it’s definitely got his signature sound all over it.
Urban sat down with Taste of Country to show us how that sound was built, layer by layer, into the finished product — an upbeat, pop-infused jam, featuring none other than rapper Pitbull.
Urban first breaks down the identifying riff of the tune, explaining that it took a lot of different sounds melded together to create that unique part and that it was actually the iconic producer Nile Rodgers who came up with it.
“That’s a [producer] Nile lick,” he says, laughing. “It’s a mix of a few things; Nile is actually whistling on a microphone. There’s an electric guitar that we put some muting under the strings. It’s a bit of banjo, it’s a bit of electric, it’s a whistle, it’s a mix of a whole lot of things."
The artist goes on to explain how the song itself came together, starting with the chord progression on an acoustic guitar and building into the rhythm and lead lines that make it what it is today. He then plays what he calls a “ganjo” — a banjo-style instrument with the string orientation of a guitar — to show the finishing touches.
“It really was a layered undertaking, because it was really just a groove at first,” he says before launching into the chords and other parts. “Slowly everything starts to dance together."
As both a producer and a performer, Rodgers has worked with Pitbull before, among a slew of famous pop artists like Daft Punk, Avicii, Duran Duran, Britney Spears, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Madonna and many more. So it’s no surprise that Urban pulled him in for this one.
“Sun Don’t Let Me Down” is not only interesting musically, but lyrically. As a co-writer on the track, Urban got to throw in a line referencing a movie his wife, Nicole Kidman, starred in more than 20 years ago called To Die For, in which she dances in front of a pair of headlights.
"There in the headlights / Dancin’ like she’s in a movie scene / To die for and it’s killin’ me," he sings in the tune. Urban admits he hasn’t seen all of his wife’s films, but he felt this one fit the tune, even for people who haven’t seen the movie.
"I loved being able to sneak that imagery in because if you’ve never seen the film you can still picture someone dancing in front of the headlines in such a way that it's like a To Die For kind of image," he told Taste of Country."I liked that it was slightly inside, as well."
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