Nigel Lythgoe: American Idol Will Be Fine Without Simon Cowell

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 Michael Kovac/FilmMagic; Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Worried that American Idol has lost its luster now that tart-tongued judge Simon Cowell is gone?

Don't be, producer Nigel Lythgoe tells UsMagazine.com.

He told Us Thursday during the So You Think You Can Dance auditions in Oakland, Calif., that a variety of contestants will appear on the Fox show next season — and that wouldn't have happened if Cowell, 51, was still involved.

"We've had some incredible country voices — in truth, Simon would have gotten rid of them straight-away because he wasn't a country fan," Lythgoe told Us. "This season we have a 16-year-old kid with an incredible voice and a jazz kid who does this fabulous scat-singing. Again, we wouldn't have had him on the show because Simon would have said, 'He's not an American Idol! Get rid of him!' … What you are definitely going to get this season is an American voice and American music."

If Steven Tyler, 62, doesn't like the voice, "he'll say, 'I hear your soul. But it's not in the voice of American Idol. Thanks so much for coming,'" Lythgoe said.

Jennifer Lopez, 40, "is growing in stature all the time," he said. "She's her own person, and she knows what she wants to say, and she'll just start saying it: 'Now what I think is this.' And it isn't anything trite … it's from her heart and she means it."

And Randy Jackson?

Well, "Randy is not the Randy you know," Lythgoe told Us. "Randy has been in the shadows. He's not that same person, he's standing up."

The new season of Fox's American Idol debuts in January.

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