Best Singer-Songwriter (2013)

Hanni El Khatib

Sure, looking hot and maintaining a throwback swagger help when you're starting a recording career, but how does that translate into actual music? For Hanni El Khatib, it's done through a raw blitzkrieg of garage-rock guitars, combined with cool, composed crooning that holds back as much as it lets loose. A half-Palestinian, half-Filipino heartthrob consumed with old-timey Americana, El Khatib took his career upward this year with the release of his well-reviewed sophomore work, Head in the Dirt, produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. His song "Can't Win 'em All" was featured in an Audi Super Bowl commercial, whose plot features a kid who wins over the prom queen after tangling with her date. Why El Khatib himself wasn't cast for the role we'll never know. —Ben Westhoff


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