We already know that the entire judges panel changed except for Randy Jackson, adding Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.  What other changes are coming this season?


One sudden death Top 20 round. Instead of a three-week top 24 round in which America votes, 60 contestants were flown to Las Vegas to sing Beatles songs on the same stage at the Las Vegas Mirage that Cirque du Soleil performs LOVE. “I think a few [contestants] knew ‘Hello Goodbye’ because it was used on a Target commercial,” chuckles Lythgoe, “which is frightening.” But that round only knocked the talent pool down to 40 wannabes. Yet another round in Hollywood will narrow the contestants down to 20 singers, and only then will America vote in a single sudden death round that will select the Idol finalists from among two groups of ten.

A Top 12…or a top 10. While some reports speculate the final group could be as high as 15 contestants, the Idol producers tell EW the finalists will either be a top 12 or a top 10. “It’s one of those situations where we’ll see what the talent’s like,” says Warwick. “We’ll see what cross-section of kids we end up with in that final elimination round. It will be up to the talent that’s there as to whether we go with 10 or 12.”

No gender parity. Say goodbye to Idol‘s often rigid practice of maintaining the same number of female and male contestants in their final group. Explains Warwick: “If I’ve got six fantastic boys and four average girls, I’m certainly not going to throw out a fantastic boy to put in another average girl, or vice versa.”

I'm not sure about the upcoming season of American Idol.  The big question is, can it survive without the harsh words of Simon Cowell?

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