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Gender equality will reign again at American Idol this year. After a season in which eight of the top twelve contestants were men, and several of them were a colossal disappointment, Idol is reverting back to the formula of twelve men and twelve women competing within their gender until we achieve a Top 12. This means each of them will sing every week, so by the time we get there, we'll have seen each member of the Top 12 perform at least a few times.

Last season's finale ranked as the second-lowest American Idol finale yet, according to The New York Times, so it is definitely time for change. We've already got Paula Abdul out, replaced initially by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Neil Patrick Harris, Kristin Chenoweth and Mary J. Blige before Ellen DeGeneres takes the permanent seat once we get to the performance shows.

Will a more balanced group of contestants that we get to see more of before the Top 12 help turn things around? Will going from the loopy, but sweet Abdul to the kooky, but sweet DeGeneres shake things up enough? Certainly DeGeneres can utilize the power of her daytime show to promote the hell out of her new moonlighting gig on the top-rated show on television. Hopefully they can get the Idol-machine churning out massive ratings increases again before Simon Cowell jumps ship next season (possibly) to bring his UK smash (and Pop Idol replacement) The X-Factor to FOX.

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