After teaming up with rap producers and pop veterans on 2013’s Fuse, Keith Urban is adding another unlikely collaborator to his résumé: Chic’s Nile Rodgers. In a recent interview, the funk guitarist, producer and songwriter of hits like Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning “Get Lucky” revealed that he and the country star have cut a pair of songs.
The two first crossed paths this February, during a pre-Grammy party hosted by Jimmy Iovine. After geeking out over each other’s six-string skills — “[Urban]’s scary; I didn’t know he played guitar like that!” Rodgers recently told Yahoo! Music — the pair agreed to work together. Rough versions of two songs are already finished, with club beats and pop production underscoring Urban’s usual country base. According to Rodgers, the new music stretches Urban’s boundaries, much in the way that David Bowie’s Let’s Dance — which Rodgers produced during the final months of 1982 — pushed the Thin White Duke to explore dance music.
“[Urban’s] fans may have some kind of problem at first,” Rodgers admitted to Yahoo! Music. “But my biggest records have always been like that. A lot of people, the only record they ever bought by David Bowie was Let’s Dance. . . His fanbase got angry: ‘This sucks! This is not Ziggy Stardust! That’s not Scary Monsters!’ But it was huge because it spoke to a broader audience. I think a record like this will speak to a broader audience [for Urban], and the country people will come around.”
Last month, Urban appeared on Jason Derulo’s “Broke,” playing banjo on a song that’s heavily rooted in contemporary R&B. He threw fans another curveball with his own single “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” whose steady climb up the charts has been boosted by a summer tour that includes an upcoming appearance at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Although he has yet to confirm the Rodgers collaborations as potential tracks for his Fuse follow-up, all signs point toward an artist who, after decades of country albums, is ready to embrace a little bit of everything.