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‘Hello, NME? I’d like to complain about your Tom Odell review. Why? I’m his dad’

Singer’s no-star strike-out prompts paternal fightback and backlash against music magazine

The novelist Neil Gaiman has been quoted as saying that the “nature of parents is to embarrass merely by existing, just as it is the nature of children of a certain age to cringe with embarrassment, shame, and mortification should their parents so much as speak to them on the street”.

Brit Award-winning musician Tom Odell probably knows exactly what he meant today after it was revealed that his dad rang up influential music magazine the NME to complain about a 0-star review it gave him.

In the review, the NME described the 22-year-old singer as a “poor, misguided wannabe who’s fallen into the hands of the music industry equivalent of Hungarian sex traffickers”.

Reviewer Mark Beaumont added: “I wish I could say there’s a place in Hell reserved for Tom Odell. There’s not. Just loads more Brits. He’ll be all over 2013 like a virulent dose of musical syphilis, pounding and warbling away at every Papal election and Bradley Wiggins finishing line.”

Lucy Jones, the deputy editor of the music magazine’s website, posted a message on Twitter suggesting that her staff had fielded an angry phone call from Mr Odell senior after it awarded the exceptionally low mark. The young singer has previously spoken about how his musical tastes were heavily influenced by his pilot father’s Elton John records.

An NME review score of zero is particularly rare but the magazine justified it, saying that you “can’t unhear” the music.

But Independent on Sunday music critic Simon Price said the move was cowardly of the NME, which he said “stands to lose nothing”. “It is a very safe and easy thing for NME to do. It is the sort of thing that allows them to pretend they are still a vicious paper with teeth, when the truth is that they are scared to attack their core acts. The latest Beady Eye album was truly awful but they gave it a good review and Liam Gallagher was on the cover that week.”

The singer Lily Allen claimed to have discovered Odell and signed him up to her record label. She was quoted by the NME last year as saying: “I went to see him play and signed him to my label straight away. His voice is fragile yet powerful and he sings mainly love songs.

“I’m not usually a massive fan of singer-songwriter stuff, but when I saw him live his energy onstage reminded me of David Bowie. It’s not soppy and moany at all, it’s energetic and insightful.

When contacted by The Independent, Tom Odell’s publicist refused to comment but said he would consider “pulling” an interview due to run in Saturday’s edition of this newspaper should a news story which upset Mr Odell or his representatives appear today. A spokesman for the NME did not respond to requests for comment.

Critical beatdown: Past rows

Morrissey and ‘NME’

In 2007 the Smiths singer started legal action after the ‘NME’ published a story under the headline ‘Bigmouth strikes again’ which he claimed deliberately portrayed him as a racist in the hope of boosting circulation. The magazine issued a public apology in 2012 in which it maintained that it was a “misunderstanding” if anyone reading the article had been left with the impression he was a racist. It stated: “We do not believe that he is a racist.” No damages were paid.

Jason Donovan and ‘The Face’

The former Neighbours boyfriend of Kylie Minogue was outraged when ‘The Face’ magazine published an article saying there was no evidence he was gay, but illustrated it with a mocked-up picture of him wearing a T-shirt inscribed “Queer as Fuck”. He sued and, after his barrister called the allegation of homosexuality a “poisonous slur”, he was awarded £292,000 damages. But with the magazine facing bankruptcy, he waived the award.