In the last year, no one has sung the torch song more torchedly than just-past-teenage belter Adele. The formula is simple: have some serious pipes, and employ said pipes in service of tunes revolving around the theme of getting flattened by love — which proved more universal than Ms. Harvey's genius-yet-convoluted ode to the first World War, or whatever it is that FloWo and the Warpaint ladies were hemming and hawing about. "Rolling in the Deep," the lead single from her bajillion-selling sophomore disc 21, though, is no mere escapism. Its stripped-down rock whump and Motown horn pizzazz lay the groundwork splendidly for Ms. Adkins's weapons-grade vocal smart bomb assault. We're all in the dumps and we want a voice from atop the mountain letting us know, for at least four minutes or so, that someone has it worse than us, right? Damn straight.
2. PJ Harvey
3. Florence Welch (Florence & the Machine)
4. Emily Koka (Warpaint)