Sir Elton John on "American Idol" this year

Sir Elton John on "American Idol" this year

Now as a finalist you must create a music video, promote yourself as a singer and create a Vegas showroom-quality performance.

Those are some of the hurdles that American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe is throwing at contestants on the overflowing Fox show.

Another decision will have the program beginning with 12 finalists (instead of the 24 semi-finalists), but nothing yet about whether singers will be selected by viewers or judges.

Lythgoe revealed much of this to TVGuide.com., saying, “I didn’t think (the 24) were very good; I was bored with them by the time they got there.”

Other changes include lowered the interview age to 15, along with theme weeks showcasing decades instead of a spotlighted artist.

Anyone who has followed Idol knows that the judge panel has been shuffled, with Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler sitting in judgment with Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi (with various reasons) gone.

More surprises to be announced before the curtain rises on January 12.