King Of 'Pain'

Keith Urban's handsome face is becoming a lot more familiar -- generally a good thing with the album "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" due this week via Capitol Nashville. During the past three

Keith Urban's handsome face is becoming a lot more familiar -- generally a good thing with the album "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" due this week via Capitol Nashville. During the past three years, Urban has experienced a meteoric career rise. The new album's first single, "Once in a Lifetime," just made history by becoming the highest-debuting single in the 62-year history of Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

Some attention, however, focuses on his personal life. He wed actress Nicole Kidman in June, suddenly becoming a household name to legions of tabloid readers who may have never heard of him or his country music hits. Then his name landed on countless celebrity news rags after he checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction. Urban canceled his promo tour, including a Nov. 6 performance at the Country Music Association Awards.

Regardless, "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing" is poised to do big business. Urban may not limit himself to traditional country stylings, but he's quick to dismiss any notion of an orchestrated attempt to "cross over" into anything but his own vision for making music.

"I'm very respectful of the country genre," Urban says. "But I don't make a whole album of country singles, that's not my intention. I just want to make an album of my music. The basis of what I do is definitely country. It's my youth music. I love living in Nashville. I don't have any aspirations to be a pop star or a rock artist. If these songs work on other formats, then that's great, but it's not my priority."

In fact, Urban actually gets upset when other formats try to "de-country" him. "I'm very happy to stay where I am," he says. "I want to make sure country radio is taken care of because that's my first love. I don't gratuitously put a country instrument like banjo and mandolin on a song to get it on radio. It's on there because I like it there. I have more of a problem when I'm asked to take it off for other formats. I think that needs to change."