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SYDNEY — Keith Urban will not be returning to the coaches’ chair on the Australian version of The Voice for 2013, but the country music star has left open-ended the answer to ongoing speculation that he will be joining American Idol.
In a statement issued by The Voice’s local broadcaster, the Nine Network overnight Urban said: “I’ve been so fortunate to have been a part of The Voice. And as much as I’d love to do it again, it’s clear that the recording and promoting of a new album, a tour and other commitments will keep me from being a part of the second season.”
Urban has been widely touted as being in negotiations to join Mariah Carey as a judge on the upcoming season of American Idol, with returning judge Randy Jackson and Nicky Minaj tipped to complete the Fox show’s judging panel.
Urban’s departure is a big loss for The Voice, which was a major hit here. It was the top rating program on Australian television during its pre-Olympics run, averaging more than 2 million viewers an episode, making it arguably the most successful international version of the talent show.
“To everyone who sang on the show, I thank you; you’ve inspired not just me, but countless others. To everyone behind the scenes and to my on-camera family — Darren [Percival], Delta [Goodrem], Joel [Madden] and Seal — thank you for making it so much fun,” Urban said.
Urban’s presence was a big part of the show’s success. Prior to The Voice, Urban was perhaps better known here as Mr. Kidman, referring to his marriage to Aussie actress Nicole. While he had a loyal following, his fanbase and album sales in the U.S. far eclipsed the size of his audience in Australia. But his on screen persona, coaching, musicianship and enthusiasm for the role endeared him to Voice fans young and old, and he will be sorely missed.
Urban’s protégée on the show, Percival, was the runner-up in the first season (see their duet below).
Nine said it will announce the 2013 lineup of coaches in the coming months, although reports suggest that season one stars Seal, Madden and Goodrem will return.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that Will.i.am was on the producers’ shortlist for the original lineup of coaches, before he took on The Voice UK. It’s also been suggested that labor laws here mean that Urban’s replacement will have to be another Aussie.
The X Factor’s current judging lineup here includes international singers Ronan Keating and Spice Girl Mel B alongside locals Guy Sebastian and Natalie Bassingthwaite.
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