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DoNotWant: Donald Braswell

September 12, 2008

A grim topic for a blog on approval, but I must speak, for I do not approve.

Donald Braswell, a Top 10 contestant on America’s Got Talent, first appeared on the show in the Dallas auditions.  Facing a frustrated, boo-happy crowd, he shared a touching tale of tragedy made better (the loss and recovery of his voice, due to a vocal-chord injury) before warming the hearts of America with an uplifting rendition of “You Raise Me Up.”

The judges were also touched, and Braswell moved on to Vegas Week where, after a second audition, he received the bad news: he would not be moving through to the semifinals.  His singing, while moving, was just not good enough.

Shortly thereafter, though, things turned in his favor.  One of the performing groups (the Russian Bar Trio) suffered an injury, forcing them to withdraw from the competition.  A public vote was held, with eight possible acts available to return.

One would assume that, in order to win the public’s vote, one would have to be an amazing performer.  One could then assume that an average-talent singer with a nasal voice and what seems to be poor tone control would not be the public’s choice.  Not so, apparently, for Donald Braswell and his vocal chords were the top choice.  He returned to perform on the final night of semifinals, celebrating his triumph with an average rendition of “The Impossible Dream.”

At this point, I would not go so far as to call him a bad singer.  In fact, I would not even go so far as to call him the worst performance of that night.  I might even say that, compared to other acts, he deserved his place in the Top 20.

And then he performed again.

Deviating from his usual “life-story” formula of song choice – a good decision, I felt – he chose to perform a piece from The Phantom of the Opera – a very bad decision.  The song, “Music of the Night,” was beautiful.  The singer, however, was not.  It was easy to see that the song did not suit him; his volumous, nasal tones provided an unpleasant contrast to the tune and backing music.  The resulting product, unenjoyable at best and miserable at worst, has earned itself the nickname “The Texas Phantom Massacre”, and left me hoping fervently that Braswell would, at last, be sent home.

No such luck.  Against my common sense, and the superior performances of several non-finalists, he’s made it into the Top 10.  At this point, my opinion of him has plummeted well into the “mud” range; adjectives range from “mediocre” to “no-talent hack.”  It isn’t that he is an awful singer.  Or even a bad one.  But he’s not good — at least, not good enough for the legendary Vegas Strip.  And he needs to be sent home.

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