Thomas Peter Odell (born 24 November 1990) is an English singer-songwriter. He released his debut extended play, Songs from Another Love, in 2012 and won the BRITs Critics' Choice Award in early 2013. His debut studio album, Long Way Down, was issued on 24 June 2013. His second studio album, Wrong Crowd, was released on 10 June 2016.
Odell was born in Chichester, West Sussex, England, to an airline pilot father and a primary school teacher mother. He has an older sister. He spent part of his childhood in New Zealand because of his father's job. He was educated at Seaford College. He studied piano classically to Grade 7. He began writing his own songs at the age of thirteen but told no one because he felt it was "uncool".
At the age of eighteen, Odell abandoned plans to attend the University of York and attempted to gain a place at a music college in Liverpool. He appeared at open-mic events nightly: "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 learnt to perform and learnt what songs work." After a year, he moved back to Chichester after being made redundant from his job as a barman. Using his grandmother's car, he travelled regularly to London to play shows and to put advertisements in music schools. He studied at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music playing as part of the band Tom and the Tides before moving to London in 2010. Tom and The Tides recorded the song "Spider" for the Brighton Institute of Modern Music student album What's Inside Your Head Vol. 3. However, he later decided to become a solo artist because he "didn't want to have to rely on people".
2012–13: Career beginnings and Long Way Down
Odell is signed to In the Name Of, an imprint of Columbia Records. He was discovered by the label head Lily Allen, who remarked that "his energy onstage reminded me of David Bowie". He was given an album advance: "I went out and bought an old Mini Cooper for cash. Then three weeks later I got back from a show in Scotland and the car was gone. So if you see a racing-green classic Mini Cooper, it's mine". He released his debut extended play, Songs from Another Love, in October 2012. He made his television debut in November 2012 as a performer on Later... with Jools Holland; the show's producer Alison Howe later described it as "a classic Later debut". Odell was announced as one of fifteen nominees for the BBC Sound of 2013 poll in January 2013. Also that month, his single "Another Love" was used by the BBC to advertise their 2013 schedule. Odell's music has been used in numerous Burberry fashion runway shows. Odell was named the BRITs' Critics' Choice Award winner, previously won by artists such as Adele and Florence and the Machine, and was interviewed alongside previous winner Emeli Sandé during the television ceremony in February 2013.
Odell's debut album, Long Way Down, was released on 24 June 2013 and reached No. 1 in the UK Official Chart. He was due to support The Rolling Stones at London's Hyde Park on 13 July 2013, but was unable to perform because of illness.
Odell performed his first new song since the release of Long Way Down, entitled "Alex", on 7 February 2014 at the Plymouth Pavilions. The show kicked off the last leg of his UK Long Way Down Tour.
Odell was named 'songwriter of the year' at the 2014 Ivor Novello Awards ceremony. Odell's song "Can't Pretend" was used in the TV series The 100. "Can't Pretend" and "Long Way Down" were also featured on The Blacklist. His song "Grow Old With Me" was featured in an episode of Reign.
Odell's next song, a cover of The Beatles' "Real Love", is the audio track to the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert and has gained him great publicity. The advert features a penguin finding love and was released on the same day as the single. Within hours of the advert being aired for the first time, the track reached to the top of the music recognition service Shazam's trending list. Within three days of release, it went straight to 21 in the UK top 40, peaking at 7.
2016–present: Wrong Crowd
Odell began working on his second studio album in 2015, and played a variety of new songs at Forest Live, a concert series in England's forests by the Forestry Commission. On 4 April 2016, the first single, "Wrong Crowd", was released, and an upcoming second studio album of the same name was announced. In addition, Odell announced that he would be going on tour in the US and Europe. On 15 April 2016, the second single from the album, "Magnetised", was released. The next day, Odell revealed that his sold-out shows were titled the No Bad Days Tour, which kicked off on 20 April 2016 in London. The full album was released on 10 June 2016.
Odell grew up listening to Elton John. One of the first albums he listened to was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973). He also cites David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Arthur Russell, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Rodríguez and Bruce Springsteen as influences. He is a fan of Arcade Fire, Adele, James Blake, Cat Power, Blur, Beach House, Radiohead, Coldplay and Ben Folds.
Odell has said his lyrics are inspired by his "inability to sustain a relationship with someone for longer than six months." He says, "I find that I write much better songs when I'm being honest, and writing about things that happen to me. It can get a little weird though, when friends or girlfriends work out that a song is about them. But it's amazing what you can get away with it. Artistic license, I think they call it."