American Idol Recap: Best Little Howser in Texas

It's a good thing that the rotating celebrities who join American Idol's judging panel are adding a lick of spontaneity to these lame-ass weeks. I didn't know what to expect from either Neil Patrick Harris or Joe Jonas, besides droll one-liners from the former and postnatal cries from the latter, and get this: One of these dudes pulled through! He was entertaining and articulate and human-seeming! But you'll have to click ahead into our countdown of the night's three best highlights to find out who, if your love-worn Camp Rock bedsheets can handle it.

3. NPH FTW

Neil Patrick Harris volunteered concise criticism throughout his one-day Idol stint. That's a Herculean feat as is (considering the recent history of adjective-deficient judges like Victoria Beckham), but he also had the nerve to frequently disagree with Simon. Their standoffs became fodder for a lame interlude full of OK Corral musical riffs and Peckinpah cinematography, but beneath the asinine sepia, NPH remained impressive. Joe Jonas made baby pterodactyl chirps and took a long nap on Randy Jackson's shoulder, if memory serves. (Click to 3:30.)

2. Erica Rhodes will take a whip to Viewers Like You.

Erica Rhodes's audition -- where she dressed as a dominatrix, cracked a whip. and sailed somewhat comfortably through En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" -- doesn't matter. The point is that this smiley thing from Irving, Texas, used to be on PBS's kids show Barney & Friends, and now she says her artistic mission is to prove that "Barney kids grow up." I have to tell you, I guessed that all along -- I had the feeling those children weren't still 6 today. If she had said, "I want to prove that Barney kids can go from Baby Bop to Shady Bop in a matter of years," that would be a more Shakespearean insight. Her audition also gave Simon Cowell the chance to make an amusing sex-fantasy joke, so enjoy that and be scared.

1. Working the docks with dock-worker Lloyd Thomas

The best audition of the night came courtesy of a man that Kara DioGuardi apparently couldn't understand. Lloyd Thomas sang Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed" with bits of dazzling control and pitch, and Kara "Schooled by Katy Perry, Who is 11 Years Old or So" DioGuardi yammered, "This guy is workin' the docks with that voice!" before complimenting Idol itself for finding such talent and being -- ostensibly -- the most philanthropic organization on the planet. Alright, Lloyd wasn't that good. Judge for yourself, but if Kara starts calling herself Florence NightinGuardi in the next few episodes, I won't be too surprised.



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