When American Idol returns for its monumental 10th season Jan. 19, the judges' panel isn't the only switch-up viewers will see.
Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has announced plans to mix up the long-running Fox competition series, doing away with some of the major Idol cornerstones fans are used to. Here's a run-down of what's in store for the show's new season:
1. Bye-bye, top 24! "I didn't think [the top 24] were very good, I was bored with them by the time they got there," Lythgoe tells TVGuide.com of previous seasons. So, the series will focus its advancement rounds starting with the best 12 belters.
How does Lythgoe think newbie judge Jennifer Lopez will do critiquing the Idol hopefuls? "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," Lythgoe tells Us. As for Randy Jackson? Well, "Randy is not the Randy you know," Lythgoe says. "Randy has been in the shadows. He's not that same person, he's standing up."
2. Theme Weeks will now focus on decades, rather than individual artists. Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, will be brought in to act as Idol's in-house mentor. Iovine may have his hands full offering tips to the wannabes: Since the minimum age limit has been lowered to 15, more singers will advance to the Hollywood Week round than in years past.
3. While the fate of the advertiser-driven Ford videos remains to be seen, Lythgoe tells TVGuide.com Idol's season 10 finalists will now have to sell themselves through their own music videos. They'll also be challenged to work with a band and dancers to develop their own awards show-style performance.