I'm watching a Death Cab for Cutie Soundstage right now, and it occurs to me why they grab people.
For the same reason other singers that sounded really amateurish at first eventually grab you, then they wind up with millions of rabid fans.
• Bob Dylan
• Neil Young
Two more classic examples. There's something haunting about their voices, they sound like ordinary people, like you or me, singing in the shower. Add the great songwriting/lyrics, and they wind up slaying you, really getting to you in ways other artists don't.
I'm sure there are other examples, but that's real musical artistry. When you can't sing worth a friggin damn, and you create music that just slays people. That my little Foo Weenies is true musical genius, and you won't see it on American Idol.
By the way, I could give **** if you disagree with this, and if you try to yell at me the iPod will be cranked, so don't even bother.