"It's about the talent, it's about the kids," Lythgoe said at the BAFTA/LA's Brittania Awards. "We're seeing quite a lot of country singers, a lot of young talent because we've opened it up to 15-year-olds now."
He added that Lopez, Tyler and returning judge Randy Jackson have already quickly found their own voices when evaluating the aspiring Idols.
"Randy has become very, very positive," said Lythgoe. "Jennifer actually critiques what's in front of her. She doesn't just throw out glib remarks. She listens, she weighs it up and then she says how she feels. Then I think with Steven, who doesn't have a bad bone in his body, finds it very difficult to say 'you suck' to anybody."
Luckily the new judging team found a harmonious balance right out of the gate during auditions. "There isn't a learning curve per say, because Jennifer has watched the show since its inception, so she knows it backwards. With Steven, he's just giving his opinion. So they're not playing roles here, they're not playing parts. They're being themselves and giving their opinions. So it's really very simple to do, as long as you remain honest."
And he hopes the contestants remain instrument free . . . mostly. "People sort of lost a little bit behind instruments. I see no reason why we won't use guitars and pianos at least once or twice across the season, but I don't just want them everyday behind the bloody guitar," he said.
Lythgoe also suggested that celebrity guest judges and large-scale tribute shows may be a thing of the past. "I'm not sure I'm going to use any guest judges, to be frank," he said. "We've got an entire record company behind it now with Interscope. We've got Jimmy Iovine and all of his producers . . . You've got real professionals here. I don't know why I need anyone else. They'll just get in the way."
The revamped American Idol returns to FOX in January 2011.