A new judges panel isn't the only change coming to American Idol this season. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe tells that the finalists will face new challenges, including contests to make the best music video, to promote themselves, and to work with a band and dancers for an awards show-style performance.

The producers have also eliminated the round that shrinks the contestants from a group of 24 to 12, instead opting to just go straight to the top 12. "I didn't think [the top 24] were very good, I was bored with them by the time they got there," Lythgoe says of previous seasons. It's unclear if this means the judges will choose the top 12 and what will replace the episodes that usually cover the early voting rounds. Both Fox and the producers declined to elaborate.

As previously announced, theme weeks will focus on decades rather than a particular artist. Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, will act as an in-house mentor. Taken together, the changes seem to reiterate the producers' desires to create an artist, rather than just another winner.

Basically, they're ripping off The X-Factor. I'm torn at whether or not this is a good thing. Elimination of the Top 24 rounds will take out all the boring fodder, but also some of the entertaining fodder. But at least Nigel finally told the truth about the show by saying that the previous top 24's weren't good. *hands Nigel a cookie*

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