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NPH, Joe Jonas show the best and worst on 'Idol'

Note: Lisa de Moraes is recovering from the collision of the Winter TV Press Tour and NBC/Conan debacle, and will be back next week. In the meantime, WaPo Team TV member Emily Yahr recaps the Dallas auditions:

At the beginning of the Dallas auditions, Ryan Seacrest reminds us that the city has been home to several memorable "American Idol" moments, including Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson's first audition, and the image of Paula Abdul breaking it down to Renaldo Lapuz's "We're Brothers Forever."

A vision in pink, Dallas auditioner Vanessa Johnston. (Michael Becker -- Fox)

And after Wednesday night, we learn the city will soon have one more distinction: The unique honor of having both the very best guest judge and the very worst guest judge in 'Idol' history.

Kara DioGuardi tells the camera that Guest Judge #1, Neil Patrick Harris, has been in the business since he was just a tween on "Doogie Howser, M.D." "My goal today is to shatter the dreams of thousands," NPH says, making us love him more than we thought possible. "If I can make two, three dozen people cry, I feel like I've done my job."

He won't have to wait very long. Julie Kevelighan, 28, auditioned eight seasons ago and is back in a blue sparkly dress with a lace napkin sewn on the front, and a sign that proclaims "This is My Year." She badly butchers Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet," and the judges ask her to please stop singing. She ignores them and continues with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Something to Talk About" until she and her poster board are escorted off the premises.

Lloyd "Big Succsexy" Thomas, 29, starts to do the robot, but the intro package takes a somber turn when he starts talking about his rough childhood. Lloyd sings "Overjoyed" by Stevie Wonder, and Kara marvels over the fact that he's a dock worker with a wonderful voice. NPH advises him to be flashier, but they all like him and he's going to Hollywood.

Lloyd is followed by a montage of the "showdown" between NPH and Simon Cowell. NPH has the nerve to actually disagree with Simon, and naturally, he doesn't take too kindly to an adversary. "Don't I get to say anything? Geez Louise, you invite a guest judge on..." NPH mutters at one point.

Twenty-six-year-old Kimberly Carver sings an original song, and Simon deals the ultimate blow -- she doesn't seem "current." NPH and Kara disagree. "The voice would draw me in, and this is a singing competition," the observant Randy Jackson pipes up. She receives a golden ticket.

The good contestant streak stops at Dexter Ward, 20, singing Boys II Men's "If I Ever Fall in Love Again." NPH, who can say more with raised eyebrows than Randy Jackson can by, well, speaking, advises Dexter that "singing's not for you." Simon tries to console him by saying his smile will take him far in life, but it doesn't help as Dexter breaks down in tears.

Erica Rhodes, 23, starts out innocently enough, telling Ryan that she appeared on "Barney and Friends" as a small child, but that she wants to take a different approach with her audition. And by different approach, she means dressing up like a dominatrix in a pleather, formfitting miniskirt and spiked high heel boots, complete with a whip. Randy asks her to sing the Barney theme song, which is disturbing on about 10 different levels. "Oh, I'm getting the creeps," NPH says, as Randy tells her that "Barney would be so proud right now." Erica launches into a rendition of En Vogue's "Free Your Mind," and cracks her whip for emphasis. She explains, "I want people to know that Barney kids grow up..." NPH cuts her off: "To be dirty little girls!"

Best. Judge. Ever.

Anyway, she gets through to Hollywood, as does Dave Pittman, 27. Dave has Tourette Syndrome, but says it doesn't affect him when he sings. He belts out Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me." NPH calls him "crazy brave," and he's through to the next round.

As NPH departs to shoot more "How I Met Your Mother" or host another award show, Joe Jonas (known as the Jonas Brother with the best hair) shows up. Apparently this is the JoBros' home town, which could explain why he's been invited. We soon discover it can't be for his eloquent judging abilities, given that the 20-year-old's most enthusiastic endorsement of any contestant is, "Yeah."

The first singer on the second day is Todrick Hall, 24, who sings an original song about all the judges. With lyrics like,"Sitting there like a bump on a log/Randy what I got to do to be your dawg?" (Hey, can he write the winner's single if Kara "No Boundaries" DioGuardi is suddenly unavailable?) the judges love him. Todrick gets a yes.

Two more singers, Dawntoya Thomason, 27, and Stephanie Daulong, 20, sail through. Joe utters a few more syllables. Twenty-year-old, blonde Maegan Wright, 20, shows up with a little brother who says and does cute things. She impresses the judges with "To Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan, and makes it through. Kara says based on her outfit alone (a blue tank top that says "Break the Rules," white shorts and flip flops), she thought Maegan was going to be a joke audition. Nice.

Vanessa Johnston, 22, dressed entirely in pink, brings the mood down with "At Last" by Etta James, which Simon compares to, "what his nightmares look and sound like." And on that note, Ryan spends a few minutes educating the "Idol" audience why Simon is always in such a sour mood -- he has to listen to some really, really bad auditions. And then complains into his millions and millions of dollars.

Sixteen-year-old Christian Spear wraps things up with the saddest story of the night, as she and her mother talk about how she was diagnosed with leukemia at age four, and been in remission for eight years. Christian wows the judges with Etta James' "All I Could Do Is Cry," and even Joe tells her she has a beautiful voice.

Next week, we're in the homestretch -- Victoria Beckham returns next Tuesday for the last audition city, Denver. And though she wasn't great in the premiere...anything will be better than Joe Jonas.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  January 28, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  "American Idol"  
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Next: Jay Leno begs Oprah for forgiveness today


Wow - I'm loving the guest judges this time around! Not that I'm watching the show yet, but I love reading about them! Fantasic re-cap, Emily!

Posted by: MrsKirby | January 28, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

While I enjoyed NPH, my favorite guest judge was Katy Perry. I liked her so much that I want her to replace Simon. Wouldn't Kara hate it!

Posted by: kljenk | January 28, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Katy Perry had very, shoes. Yeah.

NPH was the Best. Guest. Judge. They've. EVER. Had. He's funny as hell! Jonas boy looked about as enthused as Avril.

Posted by: RightWinger1 | January 28, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Joe Jonas looked like the student representative to the Board of Education - allowed to have a seat but not sure what's going on with the grown-ups (term used very loosely).

Posted by: kirstenpaulson | January 28, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"NPH, who can say more with raised eyebrows than Randy Jackson can by, well, speaking"

Brilliant. And so, so true. NPH for world domination.

Great recap!!

Posted by: SallyD5 | January 28, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

"Dexter Ward, 20, singing Boys II Men's "If I Ever Fall in Love Again.""

It's not Boyz II Men, it's Shai.

Posted by: adbspam | January 28, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

If "Big Succsexy" is 29, and the AI cut-off is 28, how'd he score a ticket to Hollywood?

Posted by: SheldonAlexandria | January 28, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna have to say Joe seemed to be the victim of brutal editing that did him no favors. My impression? He tried to do his judging job without any showboating, and that wasn't what they wanted for entertainment purposes, so they aired next to nothing of him. I don't see how people can even watch the show, it's so fakey & staged. I love NPH but found his performance to be a total put on. Good for him for being self-aware enough as a performer to get what was desired by the public for this show, but maybe someone could have forwarded the memo to the young Jonas. And no worries, Joe..."worst" judge on this show has got to practically be an honor.

Posted by: Sophizzle | January 28, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Worst judge ever? Paula Abdul.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 28, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

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