Brad Paisley featuring Keith Urban, “Start a Band”

Brad Paisley may be in Keith Urban’s league as a guitarist, but having them trade off verses in a song just rams home the fact that Urban is leagues beyond Paisley as a vocalist.    It’s a pretty flimsy song to begin with, lacking the lyrical wit of a “Girls With Guitars” or the clear-eyed realism of a “Wrong Side of Memphis.”   The first verse, sung by Paisley, is as mundane as country radio gets.

But then Urban starts singing, and the song comes to life.   There’s an intense sincerity to his vocal, while Paisley sounds like he’s phoning it in.    When Paisley suggests starting a band, it sounds like he’s doing it to alleviate his boredom.   Urban sounds like starting a band will save his life.     Much like “Shiftwork”, this is a textbook case on how a great singer can elevate material.

Grade: B

Listen: Start a Band


  1. Interesting analysis. I wouldn’t have thought of that angle, but I kind of hear what you mean. Urban is clearly the superior vocalist. I do like Paisley’s voice too though. To me, they both sound good. It’s also cool to hear the two current top guitarists play on the same record.

  2. Huge Keith Urban fan here, but I think you miss the point of Brad. He’s not bored, he’s tongue-in-cheek – as are most of his lyrics. Honestly, I thought Keith sounded like he was taking it just a smidge too seriously. Beautiful harmony by Keith though. Looking forward to finding out if I’m right about which one played which guitar part.
    I do agree it’s Online redux.

    As far as Shiftwork, not sure anything could have elevated that song above crap.

  3. I totally agree with you Kevin: this was not one of Paisley’s bets efforts. I would have scored it lower, personally. I have always preferred Paisley to Urban, but this song shows Urban in a better light, albeit he overdoes his part a little bit.

    One could argue that the energy that Urban injects into this song is necessary considering how disinterested Paisley sounds (it’s his lack of tone that kills me), but I still think he went to far. His exaggeration is most obvious when he sings “Baby buy your mama that cadillac.” He sounds almost like he is making fun of the song, which very well may be the point he was trying to make. Either way, I don’t think this is Urban’s best effort either.

    Lynn, I hear a lot of “Celebrity” in this, and the intro is especially reminiscent of “Online.”

    This song is best when the two (Paisley/Urban) are alternating lines RIGHT before they begin their (I’m assuming) dual instrumental. The song shines there. When the two singers are bouncing lyrics off of each other the concept of a band is fully fledged and most believable; plus, their voices harmonize very well.

    I like it, but it’s not the greatest song I’ve heard. The second part is great, but the first half is missing something (energy for Brad and believability for Urban).

    I’d say B-

  4. It’s a catchy song with two great players and singers. It just sounds like FUN to me, it’s not supposed to be intense and meaningful.

    You can only hope they put out a video that is just sketchy home video of them in the studio recording it, so we can be in on their fun.

  5. Even though I have not heard this yet, In general, I strongly disagree with Kevin on the quality of Brad’s vocals.

    I think Brad is way underrated as a vocalist. I hear that Mountain timbre in his voice as well, that West Virginia Appalachian thingy…After hearing his version of “Harlan” I came away thinking he is almost like a male Patty Loveless vocally. Almost but not quite, lol. But it was a very heartfelt and expressive rendition of You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.

    As far as their picking, I believe Brad Paisley is the best in the business. I would say that Keith is almost as good as Brad in this regard, but Keith’s style is more traditonal Rock, Brad is more a Country-rock style, with creative variations of Country scales that form the framework of his riveting, blistering trademark style. Brad has shown himself proficient with Rock, Jazz and Blues scales as well…and is very creative as a genre-blender, if not bender, lol.

    Brad’s pickin’ reminds me of the Country rock trailblazers Hughie Thommasson and Billy Jones of the FLA based Outlaws that “Guitar Army” sound…

    Anyway, I cannot wait for Brad’s instrumental PLAY album, not because I think he is an inferior vocalist, far from it, I just think he is an even better guitarist, and applaud his taking a creative risk with his current project.

    Hope this wasn’t too far off-topic.

    -Steve from Boston

  6. Steve, I tend to agree with you about Brad’s vocals. While I still maintain that Kieth’s are technically stronger, I’ve always thought Brad was a very good singer and I like the “twang.” It somewhat reminds me of Alan Jackson in that it’s smooth, yet twangy. I also can’t deny Urban’s guitar playing prowess, but I prefer Paisley’s to his, because I lean toward Paisley’s more traditional leaning too. This, of course, is not to say that I don’t thoroughly enjoy Keith Urban, because for a long time, he was one of my favorites. He’s still up there, but I didn’t love much of what was released from his last album with the exception of “I Told You So” and I preferred the original version of “You Look Good In My Shirt” to his rocked up remix that he recently took up the charts.

    Lynn, I agree that this is kind of like “On Line” or “Celebrity” redux, but that’s the faithful sound I like from Paisley. If I hear one of his songs come on, I pretty much automatically know it’s him, though I think it’s his guitar that is ultimately responsible. I agree though, that it wouldn’t hurt him to change things up a bit, not that I like too much change, as evidenced by my lukewarm to cold reception to Jackson’s Like Red On A Rose and Urban’s Love, Pain And the Whole Crazy Thing albums. I can accept my flaws.:)

  7. I totally agree with Kevin! I’m a huge Keith fan and I think he has to live in the shadows of some many overrated artist mainly Kenny. I like Brad ok, but he just doesn’t give me the excitement I get when hearing Keith. Brad straddles on the edge of boredom for me. Guess I’m too close to loving rock more than twang. I just love the rock with my country, but then again I love me some George, Conway, Eddie Arnold. Just not a lover of some of Brad’s same old, same old novelty songs! Sorry for the rambling, but I like this song pretty well!! Kevin, have you ever heard Keith sing with Rhonda Vincent on The Water is Wide?? It’s beautiful.

  8. Gail, I’m not Kevin, but I’ll answer that. I agree that it’s very nice.

    I actually like some rock in my country, but I always seem to gravitate toward the traditional when all is said and done.

  9. Brad – Classic country crooner voice
    Keith – Classic country rock voice

    I must of listened to a different song because I thought both were good. Contrasting vocal styles that meshed extremely well to me.

    Is Keith a better vocalist? He’s got a bit more range but Brad has that country crooner thing that Keith doesn’t. I think they are both stellar at what they do. Urban in concert gives me flashbacks to the old Steve Marriott style of entertaining. Killer showman while Brad is more traditional and strong at what he does. And the two of them on guitar tearin’ it up? Don’t git no bettern’ that!

    I agree with your rating though.

  10. First read through I thought I was reading something by Keith Urban’s publicist. I didn’t think anyone else liked him. Second time through.. well now I’m checking the calendar to see if it’s 4/1.


  11. It’s okay. I just wish if these superstars were going to do duets, they would use better songs. Why not make it a real “event” versus it being a big deal only because of the artists and not because of the song.

    I think I like Keith better on this as well, but the song isn’t going on my playlist any time soon.

    Brad’s songs are starting to sound alike for me.

    I don’t mind fun songs or novelty songs, but there are much better songs of that ilk around and both these guys have sung them before.

  12. I agree with the review, and I find it especially funny that Brad Paisley claims in this song to not to have been a child prodigy (I know that he might not have written this; it’s just ironic).

  13. Ok, I just heard a song-clip of this from Brad’s Myspace…He sounds just fine to me. Granted, he’s no Josh Turner, but then again, neither is Keith.

    Good comparison with AJ, Leeann. both do have that smooth, easy twang. Have you heard Brad’s duet with Alan Jackson “Out in the Parking Lot”? Now THAT’S a Country song, lol. It was after listening to this that I realized just how good AJ’s vocals are. As much as I like Brad’s voice, Alan’s is just that much better by comparison..effortless Country crooning.

    I dunno, this song reminds me more of Brad’s “Laughing all the way to the Bank” musically than Celebrity. But I do agree with the criticism of many that Brad really needs to tone down his antics somewhat…he does border on novelty far too often, saved only by his seriously grand musicality,creative songcrafting and unequaled virtuosity. But his sense of humor is amusing and sometimes instructive, and an essential ingredient of the whole Paisley mystique.

    -Steve from Boston

  14. Yeah, while I really like Brad’s voice, Alan’s is even better. I’m not much for there duet though. The melody doesn’t work for me (sorry Guy Clark!).

  15. I’m gonna disagree with the majority here…I think keith is a fine guitar player, and a good vocalist, but that his voice doesn’t have any personality. I feel the same way about taylor swift… they can hit all the notes and they sound fine, it just doesn’t seem that there’s a lot of strength or substance behind their singing. While i agree this isn’t brad’s best song vocally, lyrically it’s fun and i love the guitar work. No matter how “boring” people say his vocals are, he has a very distinct style and mood he brings to every song.

  16. I have to completely disagree with you Jon B. I don’t think Brad has a distinct style at all. I feel absolutely nothing when listening to him sing, hence the “boring” comes into play. On the flip side, hearing Keith Urban sing makes me believe he’s “lived” every word of the song he’s singing. When I listen to a song, I won’t to believe that the one singing it has experienced the song. Make sense? That’s why Brad does nothing for me, nor does Kenny Chesney. I’m not even going to start on the Taylor Swift thing. She’s a novalty.

  17. Well, I don’t agree with your Brad assessment, but I can accept it. I would have defended Urban just as ferociously as you guys before his last album, but that last album lost me a bit. I hope I find my way back with whatever’s coming next.

    I’m just hoping that Keith will stop stalling and get something fresh out to us soon. I guess Brad is helping Kieth to buy more time to stall with the release of this song. I think Urban is losing some of his momentum by waiting so long.

  18. I like the song. I must have played it at least 15 times by now. It is a catchy tune and it’s fun. I’ll rate it a B but that’s what I think of most of Brad’s songs. I am a huge Keith fan but enjoy lots of Brad’s music. This is more of a Brad type song but Keith does fine with it. I hope they do a video like someone earlier said. Just messing around in the studio recording the song.

  19. Hey Cindy, I sort of see what you mean…I think the thing that’s always bugged me about Keith is he has that generic rock voice. Since I grew up listening to crooners like George Strait and Alan Jackson, I suppose that’s the quality I look for in a country singers voice, and why I dig Brad’s vocals. I just can’t get into Keith’s music as country. Even his guitar seems to ooze with pop-rock.

  20. To be fair to Keith, one of the things that I love about his voice is that I don’t feel it’s genaric. It’s definitely unique. There’s a grit to it that’s pretty awesome.

  21. This isn’t a particularly good song for Paisley, but I wouldn’t place him below Urban as a vocalist. He simply is different. Urban is an excellent vocalist but I can’t see him performing some of Brad’s material that successfully – they are not interchangable cogs but instead, have unique vocal signatures

  22. Let me start by saying I am a diehard Brad Paisley fan. I have stuck with him from Who Needs Pictures to this Instrumental album, because he is an excellent vocalist, guitarist, and all-around good guy. I think this review and some of these posts are BS. Brad’s voice is anything but boring, he has such a uniqueness to it, you know all of his songs. Really, you think they all sound the same? So We Danced sounds like Ticks? When I Get Where I’m Goin sounds like The World? I’m Still A Guy sounds like She’s Everything? I didn’t think so. If his vocals are so weak, why has he won Male Vocalist of the Year for CMA and ACM for the past couple of years, beating Keith, obviously, Alan, George, and Kenny? That’s because his vocals are so bad, right, I forgot. He sounds so much weaker than Mud on the Tires in Time Well Wasted? That’s why it won Album of the year right? That’s why When I Get Where I’m Goin was song of the year, right? Why She’s Everything, The World and When I Get Where I’m Goin were Number 1 singles, right? Because his vocals are so weak. Keith is so superior, right so that’s why Brad has had 12 number one hits, 8 of them consecutive, right? Brad is going so downhill, that’s why 5th Gear is Platinum, right? He’s so boring sounding, that’s why he is nominated yet again for Entertainer of the Year, along with Male Vocalist again, right? Why Letter to Me is nominated for Song of the Year, and Waitin on a Woman is nominated for Video of the Year. He is dull, that’s why Online won Video of the Year, right? This song was meant to be fun, Keith took it very seriously, Brad stuck to his usual light heartedness, and simply had fun with it. When I hear Brad on the radio, I know it is him. He sounds like no other, he has a strongness to his voice live and in the studio.
    I tried to stick to facts in this to defend Brad. I feel like I needed to do this for he and all of his fans, and myself. A lot of people may never see this, but for anyone who does they know where I am coming from, and they know a few facts.

  23. Amber,

    As much as I’d love to support your passion as a Brad Paisley fan, I have to argue that your arguement just doesn’t work. You’re not going to convince that Paisley does, in fact, have a superior voice by spouting stats regarding his awards and album sales. Success is not always a good gauge of what’s good. For instance, I know this because telling me that Rascal Flatts has sold millions of albums, won group of the year a ton of times and have had sold out concert tours will not convince me that they deserve any of that success. Instead of those stats working to convince me of their greatness, it simply makes me wonder why in the world they’ve achieved so much. Likewise, passionately stating all of Brad’s acalades will not convince Paisley detracters of his vocal talent. If they don’t like him, they’ll just wonder how the industry could be so taken in by him rather than thinking, “Wow, that guy’s sure won a lot of awards. It must mean he’s really good” Another good example of the subjectivity of your argument is the recent CMA nominations. Just because these people have been nominated for various awards, it does not automatically make all of us think that they deserved their nominations.

    In short, the “he/she must be good because he/she is so successful” is not the strongest argument to be made when trying to defend an artist. It just leaves too many openings for equally subjective counter arguments.

  24. Well imo, no matter what rating this song gets its a #1 fer sure, all of keiths fans requesting and all of brads fans requesting it, its a sure thing, personally i would have given the song an A- because i think it is very catchy and will be around for a long time.

  25. I completely agree about the success with album sales, however, the success as male vocalist is a good argument. None of the Rascal Flatts members have been awarded anything for good vocals, I don’t think they deserve any of their success either. However, still the male vocalist awards shows someone’s abilities as a singer.

  26. Yes, but does Taylor Swift’s CMA nomination show her ability as a singer? If she wins, will people suddenly start believing she’s a good singer? Probably not. They’ll ust think that the CMA voters made a poor decision. That’s probably the way people who don’t like Brad’s voice feel regarding his Male Vocalist awards as well.

    Remember, I’m a Paisley fan and I love his voice. I just think the “Look, he has these awards and #1 songs, so he must be good” argument doesn’t work on people who already don’t like that particular artist.

  27. I completely agree, I am accustomed to posting on the BP fan club forum I have to keep tellin myself I am not on there..these people don’t like him like we all do!

  28. Brad is at the top of country music. He’s the total pakage. His vocals are perfect. Not to deep like Josh Turner, and doesn’t sound like a girl like Keith Urban. He plays the guitar better than anybody in the world. (Keith Urban doesn’t even compare.) and his creativity in his song writing and stage performances are all what completes him as a great country icon. Mark my words, 15-20 years from now his career will be as successful and George Straits.

  29. I don’t think it will even take that long. I think he’ll get there pretty quick at the rate he is going.
    I am glad there are some Brad fans on here. I tend to get a little defensive about certain things, and my Brad is one of them.

  30. I used to be a bit more defensive of Brad, but songs like “I’m Still A Guy” and “Waitin’ On A Woman” get old for me really fast. I need for him to pick things up a bit. I loved Time Well Wasted and Mud On The Tires, but Fifth Gear left me feeling a little less enthusiastic. As I said earlier, Urban’s last album did the same thing to me.

    Now, saying that Urban sounds like a girl just to defend Paisley from those who like Urban better is kinda rude.

  31. I didn’t see who said Keith sounded like a girl but I would sort of have to agree, just a personal opinion, even if I didn’t like Brad.

  32. I don’t know I just don’t like the tone of his vioce. Personal preference. I like a little deeper than Keith’s. He hits a note/pitch thing with it every now and again that’s really high that I personally don’t care for.
    Just a side note..I am not on here to bash Keith, I wouldn’t have even commented had it not been for the review and posts I felt were bashing Brad with no good reason. I don’t have a problem with Keith, he’s not my favorite but sure I have some of his songs on my iPod. Plus about Brad..I think he is as cute as he can be which is just a big plus..and Keith doesn’t quite do that for me. But they both are quite talented, fun guys.

  33. Just so you know Amber, Keith won the award for Male Vocalist 3 years in a row and also Keith has won EOTY too! Pretty good for sounding like a girl..don’t you think Ryan!

  34. I am a fan of both Brad and Keith. They are both fantastic players and, honestly, neither are the best vocalists in the world, but they are both more then adequate. I think Brad has proven himself as the most consistent artist in the format, although three humourous singles off ‘5th Gear’ was a little eccessive. This duet is just a radio friendly number that’s a lot of fun. Big duets featuring two major artists seldom top the charts, though ‘Shiftwork’ came close and this one could go all the way and become Brad’s ninth consecutive no.1

  35. well, I love the song just because it’s the 2 best male artists in country today! Plus, they have very different styles in singing and playing guitar, but in this one, it’s cool…

    I really don’t think one sang it badly…Brad sang like Brad, and Keith sang it like Keith…very cool!

    it sounds like a mixture of “Online” and “Good in my shirt”…perfect duet!

    good job!

  36. Brad is a better guitarist, and Keith has more vocal talent, yes. But, Brad has a very unique sound because of teh way he uses his voice. His part in this song is great, I like it better than Urban’s. I think the two mix very well though, really liked it :D

  37. Gosh, you guys. Both Brad and Keith are terrific artists. There are times when one sounds better vocally than the other and the same with their guitar playing. It would be pretty darn boring if they sounded alike all the time. I, too, cannot wait for the video of ‘Start a Band” to come out. Should be loads of fun.

    Can you imagine Kimberly and Nicole getting together and arguing as to whose husband is the better singer/guitar player????? lol

  38. Brad Paisley is a SONGWRITER NOT a Singer!!!

    Brad Paisley is a weak singer and a strong songwriter who can play guitar.

    The guitar playing is not that unique in Nashville. If you’ve ever been in Nashville you know that guitar players like Brad and better are EVERYWHERE and (playing for nothing).

    His guitar playing makes up for his lack of singing ability.
    Why do you think he takes a guitar solo in EVERY single song he sings????? It’s because he’s knows if he going to keep your attention he better do something other than SING.

  39. Think about it…You cant compare Brad Paisley’s singing to say Ronnie Dunn’s or Trace Atdkins, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill.

    Brad also has to write goofy content in his songs to keep the listners attention..because his voice sure “aint gonna”.

    Regardless of how he’s doin it…you have to give a guy with minor talent a HAND for gettting no.1’s in this day and time like he is.

    I dont like his music, I dont like him , but really is there anyone else to listen to???

    you have to go back and listen to music from the 60’s through the 90’s to hear good music these days (in my opinion)

  40. KIETH URBIN:::

    Kieth is an great talent but he’s in the wrong country singing music from that country and just CANT take him seriously.

    People from Australia should not come to this country and sings songs about living in Mississippi. THAT”S BULLSHIT!

    That’s like me (being from Alabama) going to Australia and blowing one of those “Recola Horns” like I invented the thing.
    They’d probobly beat the shit out of me and send my ass back to BAMA.


    But…you have to give the guy “props” for achieving what he’s achieved. To become a celebrity with a record deal is an accomplishment…I dont care if sing out of your butthole…a record deal is an ACCOMPLISHMENT.

  41. Dude, that’s such a supid arguement (not that anyone can take you seriously with that name, or that other guy with the derrogatory ‘user name’).

    I wish people weren’t so dang ignorant about things….

  42. I have personally met both men…brad and keith…both are tremendous “AXE” players….I have to say though that keith can make his guitar just talk to you with his fingers……brad is a great guitarist too but keith almost becomes one with his guitar….i would love to see him in a concert with LED ZEPPELIN….now wouldnt that be a great thing …let see him and jimmy page duel guitars..holy smokes…the guitars will start on fire just to get out of their hands

  43. I can’t argue that Keith is a little better vocally, but Brad has a more traditional sound. I’m a guitar player and I know that Brad is head and shoulders above Keith as far as instrumental talent goes. Keith is a good player, but Brad is the top player currently in the business and will go down as one of the best in history, right up there with Chet.

  44. I just listened to this and noticed how remarkably similar the chord progression and song construction are to Urban’s You Look Good in My Shirt.

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