American Idol Judges

Michael Becker/FOX

We're gonna level with you: despite the best efforts of the eminently employable Ryan Seacrest, the always delightful Ellen DeGeneres and the nation's (adopted) preeminent belittler Simon Cowell, last year's American Idol was a little…how should we put this? Meh.

The good news is, returning exec producer Nigel Lythgoe agrees. Which is why he's changing up the tired tried and true format this season in an effort to get things moving at a quicker clip. Here's what's up…

You know how everyone tunes in for the terrible auditions, then zones out when contestant pool dwindles to 32, then 24, then 12, and by that time is kind of over how drawn out the whole thing is? Yeah, so does Nigel.

"I didn't think [the top 24] were very good, I was bored with them by the time they got there," he told

So what does that mean? Simply that the show will be cutting out the dreaded top 24 round, instead shrinking the eliminations straight to 12. It makes for a quicker trip to the real talent and less of a drag to sit through the momentum-less middle stages.

It remains unclear whether the American Idol producers will somehow try and creatively fill the episodes that would have been taken up by that round's auditions and cuts, or instead go straight to the top 12 and deal with falling an episode or two shy of last season.

Either way, good to have you back, Nige.

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