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What's bugging me? The Brit Awards' formula is getting tired

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

Genuine performer: Tim Odell is the Brit's critic's choice award nominee for 2013

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by Ryan Butcher

So, it appears the Brit Awards judging panel doesn't read my column.

Last week, I laid out an infallible point-by-point argument citing how new kid on the block Jake Bugg is nothing more than a glorified sixth form poet with a lucky break and a couple of Bob Dylan LPs.

That, and a damn good PR team who's achieved the impossible and conned you all into thinking Bugg is an actual, credible recording artist and not just one of those buskers you ignore on your way to work.

Yet for some reason, unbeknown to this critic, Bugg is up for the best British breakthrough prize at this year's Brit ceremony.

If anyone can explain to me how shamelessly ripping off the 50-plus year legacy of Dylan qualifies as a "breakthrough", I don't know, I'll give you a prize. Answers on a postcard, please.

Each year it gets easier and easier to have a pop at the Brits – and it's because the formula is always the same.

Step one, convince Rihanna she's a contributing member of society and not a burnt-out husk. Step two, let Jessie J aurally desecrate the stage. Step three, pass off some soulless acoustic artist as the new messiah, because, you know, he's just so cool and edgy and acts like himself, man.

Oh, actually, that must be why Bugg was nominated, then.

But this year, maybe, just maybe, the Brits might have actually done something right.

For the first time since the category was feebly invented in 2008 for the sole purpose of making Adele famous, the Brits' critics' choice award is going to a bona fide artist who hasn't been pushed through the assembly line of a stage school.

I am, of course, talking about Tom Odell, who, just three short weeks into the year, has already become the voice of 2013.

His debut EP Songs From Another Love is a melting pot of powerful melodies, heart-wrenching vocals and brutally honest accounts of a love now lost which are moving, touching, and more importantly, relatable.

Sure, there's a touch of Jeff Buckley in there. Lead single Can't Pretend would fit in quite nicely alongside the likes of Mojo Pin or Last Goodbye on Grace.

But building on his other influences like Arcade Fire and Radiohead, there's a contemporary feel to his sound which makes it fresh and exciting.

Odell doesn't rely on using melancholy as a marketing tool like, say, Coldplay, or a muddle and confused metaphor like, say, Coldplay. Instead, he relies on good old fashioned songwriting.

Take my early contender for song of the year and his debut single Another Love, for example.

Anchored around a classical piano hook, Odell layers his melodies and sublime vocal range one on top of the other, before it cascades into a cacophony of romantic discord. It's nothing short of breathtaking. Or liberating. Or both.

Over the years, the critics' choice award has been mindlessly handed out to Ellie Goulding, Jessie J and Emili Sandé. And, you know, they've all done pretty well for themselves since then.

But unlike the aforementioned recipients, you're unlikely to see Odell try and flog a single on the X Factor stage or act as a guest judge on one of those other banal televised karaoke contests.

The real test for Odell though will be whether or not he can recreate the spellbinding intimacy of his music on the live stage. Luckily, you'll have a chance to find out when he tours in March, playing the smallest venues you're ever likely to find him in from now on.

Tom Odell will be at the Leeds Cockpit on March 2, Manchester Night and Day on March 5 and Nottingham Rescue Rooms on March 6.

Visit www.seetickets.com for ticket details and availability.

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