When British pop-rock singer Tom Odell bagged the coveted Critics' Choice Award at the Brits earlier this year, the spotlight swiftly shifted to the up-and-coming artist - for better or worse.
He is the first male to reign in this category, previously dominated by the likes of Adele, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch.
He had not even released his debut album, Long Way Down, then.
Word about Odell has been spreading like wildfire and he is gaining traction, taking to big stages like the UK's Glastonbury Festival, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and most recently, V Festival in Britain.
Odell, who will be in town tomorrow for a showcase at TAB Singapore, owes it all to English singer Lily Allen, who jump-started his career.
SIGNED UP IMMEDIATELY
Allen, 28, had been so taken by Odell's talent that she hardly paused to think before signing the blond piano player to her label In The Name Of.
The 22-year-old told LOUD over the phone from Sydney, Australia, last Saturday: "We met in a club in London and she told a lot of people about me. She was the first person to believe in me."
He initially failed the auditions to enter a music school in Liverpool, UK, taking his music instead to open-mic sessions at pubs and clubs in Brighton.
"I could barely sing and I wrote bad songs. It was full of humiliation - dragging a keyboard round, turning up to find out I'd been taken off the bill, gangs of lads grabbing the mic off me and laughing. I did an open-mic every night, relentlessly, until people in Brighton were sick of me.
"I knew I'd become a better singer and a better songwriter. And by the end I loved performing. It worked," he said in an interview with The Daily Mail in February.
His perseverance paid off when Long Way Down, released in April, entered at No. 1 on the official UK Albums Chart, knocking off US rapper Kanye West's much-raved-about Yeezus.
Besides Allen, Odell is also working with another familiar name in music - Nicole Scherzinger, former lead vocalist of disbanded US pop girl group Pussycat Dolls.
The unlikely pair are collaborating on a song, rumoured to be featured on Scherzinger's upcoming album.
"She's a great person," he offered, saying little else other than it was Scherzinger who got in touch with him and that the outcome of their collaboration remains to be seen. Odell might be relatively new in the industry, but like most celebrities, he cannot escape being gossip fodder.
For one, he's clueless about teenage British pop singer Chloe Howl's "revelation" that she had crept into his teepee at Glastonbury this year and slept there for the night with English bands Peace and Superfood.
"I have absolutely no idea how it came about. It's obviously made up and very annoying. I've never even had a teepee. It's a bit baffling, honestly," he said.
Odell said the recent drama with NME's terrible review of Long Way Down was also blown out of proportion.
The music magazine had awarded it the rare score of 0/10, calling the album "offensively dull piano pop destined for Brits ubiquity" and likening Odell to "a virulent dose of musical syphilis".
Odell's father reportedly didn't take the matter lying down and promptly rang the magazine to defend his son.
Again, Odell called the debacle a wild exaggeration, but chose to remain tight-lipped about the degree of truth in the story.
"I don't know, a lot of it is made up and everybody has their own opinion," he simply said.
Detractors aside, the future seems bright for Odell.
"I hope to carry on making music and doing even more. It's an honour doing something I love... I feel very lucky."
WHAT:Up close with Tom Odell showcase and meet-and-greet
WHEN: Tomorrow, 6.30pm (doors open at 6pm) WHERE: TAB Singapore
TICKETS: $55 from HMV Somerset or Marina Square. Includes a showcase pass, a meet-and-greet pass and Odell's album Long Way Down
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