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Defying Gravity is the title of the fifth studio album by Australian country music artist Keith Urban. It was released on March 31, 2009 (see 2009 in country music) on Capitol Recordsmarker. The album's lead-off single is "Sweet Thing", which topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts in March 2009. "Kiss a Girl" was released on March 7, 2009 as the second single. The album became Urban's first number-one album on the Billboard 200, selling 171,000 copies in its first week of release.

Background

The title Defying Gravity comes from the lyrics of "If Ever I Could Love" ("your heart and mine tonight are defying gravity"), a phrase that Urban said "really defined the joyous, optimistic and uplifting spirit that seemed to show itself while making the album." The track "I'm In" was previously released in 1998 by Radney Foster (as a duet with Abra Moore) on the album See What You Want to See, and later in 2000 by The Kinleys from their album II. Both Foster's and The Kinleys' versions were singles.

"Sweet Thing" is the album's lead-off single. Written by Urban and Monty Powell, this song topped the Billboard country singles chart in March 2009. They also wrote the second single, "Kiss a Girl," which peaked at #3 later the same year. "Only You Can Love Me This Way" was released in June 2009 as the album's third single. "My Heart Is Open" was inspired by something that Urban's wife, Nicole Kidman, said when they first started dating.

Critical reception

Defying Gravity has received mostly mediocre reviews from music critics, with most unfavorable reviews saying that the album lacks the variety of his earlier releases. Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine gave it two-and-a-half stars out of five, saying that the album lacked the "rawness" of his earlier albums. He also said that most of the songs, including its first two singles, were "retread"s of his earlier hits, and that his vesion of "I'm In" was inferior to The Kinleys'. In addition, he considered the love ballad "schmaltzier impulses", although he also said that it was "a rebound from the bloated, self-indulgent Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" (Urban's last studio album) and noted that "Sweet Thing" showed Urban's and Huff's ability to use a banjo effectively in a rock-influenced song. Rolling Stone critic Mark Kemp, who gave the album two stars out of five, said that it lacked the ambition of Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing and had "idyllic" themes. Jim Malec, reviewing it for The 9513, gave a two-and-a-half star rating as well. He considered it overproduced and said that it lacked a more "artistically engaging" song to balance out the "lighthearted confection" such as "Sweet Thing." He cited that song and "If I Could Ever Love" as standout tracks, despite also describing the latter as "prefabricated," and added that his "I'm In" cover lacked the "urgency" of The Kinleys' rendition.

Thom Jurek gave a four-out-of-five rating in his review for Allmusic. Jurek also noted Urban's use of banjo in more rock-oriented songs, as well as the variety of instruments used overall. He described the first two singles and the "I'm In" cover favorably, saying of "I'm In" that its backing vocals recalled The Rolling Stones, and he called the final track ("Thank You") a "nakedly open paean to wife Nicole [Kidman]." In addition, Jurek considered the album's sound an expansion on Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing by "seamlessly combining hook-laden crafty songwriting with a pop sensibility in the modern country vernacular that blazes a new trail." In addition, Entertainment Weekly critic Whitney Pastorek gave a B rating, saying that the album had "Kidman-centric lyrics" but also showed "a gift for making radio-baiting hooks and production feel enthusiastically fresh."

Track listing

  1. "Kiss a Girl" (Keith Urban, Monty Powell) - 3:46
  2. "If Ever I Could Love" (Urban, Darrell Brown) - 5:00
  3. "Sweet Thing" (Urban, Powell) - 3:48
  4. "'Til Summer Comes Around" (Urban, Powell) - 5:31
  5. "My Heart Is Open" (Urban, John Shanks) - 5:29
  6. "Hit the Ground Runnin'" (Jerry Flowers) - 3:24
  7. "Only You Can Love Me This Way" (Steve McEwan, John Reid) - 4:07
  8. "Standing Right in Front of You" (Urban, Rick Nowells) - 4:01
  9. "Why's It Feel So Long" (Urban) - 3:24
  10. "I'm In" (Radney Foster, Georgia Middleman) - 4:33
  11. "Thank You" (Urban, Nowells) - 5:14


Promotion

iTunes had an exclusive offer called "Countdown To Defying Gravity" where every week fans would be able to download a podcast where Urban talks about the song. Also, iTunes had a "Complete My Album" where fans would complete the whole album and get a bonus track, a cover, "Call My Name" originally recorded by the Christian band Third Day for their Revelation album.

Urban appeared on Today and The Ellen DeGeneres Show on April 1. He sang "Sweet Thing" and "Kiss A Girl" on both shows. He performed "Kiss a Girl" at the Academy of Country Music awards on April 12.

Chart performance

Upon its release, Defying Gravity reached #1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart, becoming the first album of Urban's career to do so. It also reached Number One on the country albums charts in the U.S. and Canada. The album has sold in the US 630,398 copies as of November 28, 2009.

References


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