Aussie Keith leaves The Voice - now that's reason to celebrate

Yesterday we got confirmation of what we'd pretty much expected since the rumours spread a few weeks ago: Keith Urban will not be back to add his mid-Pacific voice to The Voice in 2013.

It's undeniably a blow for Nine, which enjoyed the surprise ratings hit of the year thanks in no small part to Urban's remarkable – and by all reports genuine – urbanity. But let's not go into a spell of national mourning for the loss of "Aussie Keith" – to touring and recording commitments, according to yesterday's statement, but in all likelihood to American Idol, where the exposure, pay packet and boost to sales of his Nashville country pop will be immeasurably greater.

He may have been raised in Queensland, but until The Voice, Urban was ours only in so far as he was the other half of "Our Nic". He was Mr Kidman, a fit and easy-on-the-eye fella with perfect teeth, an even tan and a dark history that included spells in rehab. He lived in Tennessee, played country music and wore Stetsons and snakeskin boots. So far, so American.

We didn't really know Keith before, but on The Voice we quickly discovered we liked him. Not cold like Delta, not slick like Seal, not ADHD like Joel. Just a regular Aussie-American bloke. Hot-dang, cobber.

We showed our love by buying the music we'd ignored for so long, giving him his first No. 1 album in this country. And how does he return our affection? By buggering off back to where he came from, that's how.

So should we feel bitter?

Hell hath no fury like a nation of jingoists spurned, but no. We ought to celebrate Urban's departure.

He went to the US in 1992 to prove he could make it in the home of country music. On The Voice he showed us how thoroughly he'd succeeded - not just in music but in that ineffable realm of likeability, an even more bankable commodity in some respects than talent.

Now he's joined that small troupe of celebrity judges who circuit the globe at the behest of TV talent show producers. Good luck to him. If anyone should lament his going it's not us but Jan De Mol, the creator of The Voice, who has lost a star asset to Simon Fuller, the man behind Idol. Somewhere in the world, Simon Cowell – the evil genius behind The X Factor – must be cursing his luck at missing out too.

So, let us wave Aussie Keith goodbye with nary a regret. He's worked hard. He seems delightful. He deserves his success.

Besides, Aussie Keith isn't really an Aussie anyway. He was born in New Zealand, and moved here aged two. So good luck, bro, eh?

The story Aussie Keith leaves The Voice - now that's reason to celebrate first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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