Don’t let his taking the year off from touring fool you: All that passion and intensity that make his stage shows so great hasn’t gone away…he’s just directing it at the other parts of his life. And when those laser blue eyes zero in on something, well, look out. But there are a few things you should know before falling too hard for our favorite free spirit:
1. He’s a ramblin’ man.
“I used to worry about not really knowing where I belong,” he says. “But I’ve come to the conclusion that I just belong everywhere. That’s why I come out to L.A., that’s why I have my boat, that’s why I go to the islands. Once I got my mind okay with the fact that I just don’t belong in one spot, I’ve been a lot happier.”
2. He won’t hurry love.
“It’s not like I’m taking a year off so I can get married again,” he says. ” ‘Cause that could or couldn’t happen. But I want to put my mind-set in the position to be able to do that if it did happen.”
3. He can’t stop the music.
Connecting with an audience “is an out-of-body, out-of-mind experience,” he says. “This is what I love to do. And hopefully I’ll still be making records and touring like some of my heroes later on in life.”
STATUS MARRIED TO NICOLE KIDMAN
He’s a sweet-talking Aussie with impossibly sexy hair. And when he’s onstage, Keith Urban comes alive, beaming with confidence and guitar-guy swagger. Offstage, in casual conversation, he’s warm but sardonic (no wonder he and Brad Paisley are such pals). But if we had to pinpoint Urban’s hottest quality it would be his vulnerability. In his music, in his life, he seems to wear his heart on his sleeve. And a guy who can show us that kind of openheartedness just takes our breath away.
STATUS MARRIED TO KIMBERLY WILLIAMS-PAISLEY
Much like Huck Finn, the literary hero who shares his oldest son’s name, Paisley is boyish and mischievous. But look beyond his wry smile and the lyrics to “Ticks,” and you’ll uncover someone who truly, madly and deeply believes in love. In songs like “Then,” Paisley doesn’t shy away from saying what matters most to him. Equally revealing are the singer’s own role models: “Andy Griffith,” he says. “He was reliable, funny and took his son fishing. And my grandpa. He was a live-off-the-land guy who could take care of anything.” What Brad admires most about these men turns out to be what we love about him.
A farm boy who cleans up real good-what’s not to like?
Sharp-dressed man: “My wife likes when I get dressed up. It’s more becoming than walking around my house in my underwear! My music is more country than most, so the shock factor of getting snazzied up is fun.”
Real-life romance: “Does my wife come home to rose petals scattered everywhere? I probably ought to do that, but she’d just as soon I rub her feet. I’ll try to rub on her shoulders till she passes out because she’s so tired from running around after our son Bo.”
With his chiseled good looks, the “Gimmie That Girl” singer makes an equally demanding bid for our attention.
Why country guys are hot: “I think the physical raw attraction to women and not hiding it. Also being confident and having good values.”
And modest too!
“I still think of myself as the fifth grader who couldn’t get a girl to go skating with him. I’ve been all kinds of awkward in my life.”
These hot newcomers are already making their mark
The boyish 24-year-old caught our eye (and ear!) with “Ain’t Much Left of Lovin’ You.”
The “Beer on the Table” singer, 32, can work the workingman charm like no other.
The “Love Like Crazy” singer, 31, has a deep voice and a knack for saying things that need to be said.
He sings about the man he wants to be, but we can’t get enough of the man he is.
What makes him hot: “It’s all about the hat,” he jokes. “I don’t know how hot I’d be without it! But I do take it off once in a while to make sure people know I have a full head of hair.”
He’s one smart cowboy: “I’ve never ridden a bull or a bronco-a horse is as far as I go,” says Young. “I was terrible at the mechanical bull, which taught me never to get on a real one!”
The “Red Light” singer knows who he is-and isn’t afraid to pamper himself!
True country: “It’s someone who’s comfortable in his own skin. If I put on a cowboy hat, fans would see right through me.”
Product placement: “When it comes to skin care products, I’m the biggest girl. You can sell me anything if it has a cool package.”
Sexy hair, check. Roguish grin? Yep. Smoothest baritone? Oh yeah. But if that doesn’t make Jake Owen irresistible to you, this little tidbit promises to do the trick: “I’ve never been anywhere romantic,” says the singer, who’s on tour this summer. “I’ve never had that person in my life to go to the islands or the mountains with. That’s sad. Now I’m depressed!” Don’t fret, Jake. There are plenty of women eager to make this dream come true.
Talk about your right to bare arms! These guys have the muscles we just want to get wrapped up in
STATUS: ENGAGED TO MIRANDA LAMBERT
Ask the singer what the secret of his sex appeal is, and he starts to squirm. “It wasn’t until the last four or five years that I started hearing talk like that,” says Shelton. “I guess getting older is a good thing for me.” We’ll say.
What’s so hot about a country boy, anyway?
“We’re not wusses. Country guys know how to take care of a girl. Driving down a road and you have a flat-we’re the guys that can do something about that.”
What does Miranda say is your best feature?
“How tall I am. She always mentions that, especially if we’re apart for a month or so. When we get together, she says, ‘God, I always forget how tall you are!’ ”
When do you feel your best?
“I feel the most confident when I’ve just got on my jeans, boots and an old piece-of-crap, holey, plaid shirt that I probably got back out of the dirty clothes. I put that on and I’m out doing some things on the tractor-those are times that I get back up to the house and I can tell Miranda looks at me just a little bit different, and it makes me feel good.”
Now that everyone is looking at you that way, what will you do differently?
“I better start paying attention and hitting the gym once in a while because if, as time has gone by, I’ve become a better-looking guy, then I don’t want more time to go by, and I become not a good-looking guy. Whatever I can do to freeze how I look right now, or prolong it, that is what I’m going to work on.”
Not every country star is a son of the South. Allan is proud to be “a California boy. I love to be around the ocean and the energy it gives,” he says. “You won’t hear me sing about tractors. I don’t sing about things I don’t know anything about.” That honesty extends to his looks as well. “I’m growing old gracefully,” he says. “Whatever happens, happens. Once you start doing stuff like Botox, you’re chasing your tail. I saw one guy recently and I was like, ‘What are you doing? You’re not fooling anybody!’ ”
How do we love him?
We invited longtime pal Lee Ann Womack to count the ways:
“He is the ultimate gentleman, the ultimate cowboy. He can rope, ride and run a ranch. He knows his way around a horse, the state of Texas, a crisp starched shirt or a song! No one makes country music-and looks as good doing it-like my friend George Strait.”
Let’s Hear It for the Boys!
The women of Sugarland, Gloriana and Little Big Town on their boy bandmates
TOM AND MIKE GOSSIN OF GLORIANA
“Michael is adorable cute, and Tom is more classic cute, so they cover all ends of the cute spectrum. Mike’s got that blond spiky hair and an eccentric personality. Tom’s got classic movie-star looks and is health-conscious.”
KRISTIAN BUSH OF SUGARLAND
“Everyone notices his big blue eyes first. Kristian is definitely romantic. He’s a Pisces, and he always wants the boy to get the girl.”
PHILLIP SWEET & JIMI WESTBROOK OF LITTLE BIG TOWN
“Phillip is very affectionate and very loving. We tease him sometimes.”
“Jimi’s the life of the party and all heart. That and his rugged good looks is why I married him!”