A 22-year-old British singer-songwriter, whose career took off after he was championed by Lily Allen, has become the first man to win the Brits Critics’ Choice Award.
Chichester-born Tom Odell has been tipped to break out in the coming year, with the critics’ award following a nomination for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 earlier this month.
The Brits first awarded the critics’ choice for an up and coming British musician in 2008 when it went to Adele. Since then artists including Jessie J, Florence and the Machine and Emili Sande have been honoured. Runners up for this year’s award were electro pop duo AlunaGeorge and Laura Mvula.
Odell said he was “thrilled and honoured” to win the award. “Looking at the list of amazing female artists who have won the award already, I just hope I don’t let the boys down.”
Odell, who has been writing songs for the best part of a decade, wrote and recorded his debut album over the summer.
His style has been compared to American singer Jeff Buckley, who died in 1997. After his nomination for the Sound of 2013, the BBC described his style as: “Vulnerability married to memorable melody.”
Lily Allen, now Lily Rose Cooper, was alerted to Odell by a friend and she signed him to her label. It came after just four gigs.
Odell’s energy onstage “reminded me of David Bowie,” Cooper said. She told the NME: “His voice is fragile yet powerful and he sings mainly love songs,” adding: “It’s not soppy and moany at all, it’s energetic and insightful. And he’s totally gorgeous as well.”
This year the Brits will introduce its first global success award, aimed at honouring British acts that have achieved huge success overseas. Adele, Mumford & Sons and One Direction are likely to be front runners for the inaugural award.
This year, James Corden will return to present the awards ceremony on 20 February, handing the winning acts statuettes designed by Damien Hirst.
The charity War Child will receive a Special Recognition award on its 20th anniversary, after helping 800,000 children in war-torn countries. The Outstanding Contribution prize, which went to Blur last year, has been dropped.