Best Unexpected Torch-Song Siren - 2010
Someone should pay Holly Miranda to do a 10-disc box set of incendiary cover songs. The Brooklyn singer-songwriter, best known for her stint with ethereal indie rockers the Jealous Girlfriends, put out a woozy, dizzying, Dave Sitek–produced solo album, The Magician's Private Library, this year, but where she really shines is onstage as an interpreter, her frail, gossamer voice paradoxically ripping deep into tributes to everyone from Yoko Ono to Jeff Buckley to the Smiths (a gorgeous "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want") to Lauryn Hill (a pleading and even more gorgeous "Ex-Factor"). The crown jewel, though, is the Etta James–associated standard "I'd Rather Go Blind," a chest-beating torch song that would feel like a death sentence for 99 percent of the semi-competent Brooklyn troubadours currently crowding the Internet. Miranda, though, turns it into a jolting triumph, understated but still grandiose, and the biggest, most welcome shock you can get at a rock concert these days.