As one of the 19 humans on the planet who actually watch "How I Met Your Mother," I was already well aware of Neil Patrick Harris' rather prodigious talents. He is a song-and-dance man. He is fantastic at playing "the cad." He looks great in a suit. But what I — and my 18 fellow "HIMYM" viewers probably weren't aware of — is how effortlessly, utterly great he'd be as an "American Idol" judge.
On Wednesday (January 27) night's "Idol" auditions show, Harris was smart, funny, and — most of all — cutting. He was unafraid to shatter dreams or snicker at particularly awful wannabes. He didn't stand down to the wrath of Simon Cowell (in fact, he seemed to go out of his way to instigate the cranky Brit). He offered advice — even faint praise — when the situation warranted it, he mastered the art of making the "wowed" face when a particularly great voice caught his fancy (it's a delicate thing, mostly in the eyebrows) and he even picked up on one hopeful's Tourette's syndrome (looks like all those years of playing a teenage doctor really paid off).
In short, he was the best "Idol" guest judge of the season by a mile and possibly the greatest of all time (he's competing with Quentin Tarantino for that top spot). He was only booked for half of the show's two-day Dallas auditions, and when he left the Wednesday night's show he took all the energy of the telecast with him. No offense to Joe Jonas, but you could practically feel the electricity being drained from the room. (Though, Joe wasn't all bad: He did shatter the "Idol" record for use of the phrase "Yeah.")
Which is why I believe that Harris should be made a permanent part of the judges' table. He is the ideal candidate to replace Cowell after he departs this season. Forget about the Tommy Mottolas and Guy Osearys of the world. Don't even listen to Perez Hilton's pleas. Neil Patrick Harris is your man. Consider Wednesday night his audition (and it seemed like "Idol" producers were doing that, what with the whole "Harris/Cowell Wild West Showdown" montage they threw together), one he passed with flying colors. He struck the perfect balance between "acrid" and "amiable," which sort of makes him a hybrid of Cowell and Paula Abdul, only with less slurring (and better hair). He brought intelligence, humor, cattiness and style to the show. And for all those reasons, he should be back next year as an "American Idol" judge. It's certainly more than you can say about Kara Dioguardi.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Let's check in with "American Idol" expert Jim Cantiello and see which one of the "Idol" guest judges he thinks could take the reins.
Which of the "Idol" guest judges would make the best Simon replacement? Who would you pick to fill Mr. Cowell's angry chair? Leave your thoughts in the comments!