'X Factor' Shake-Up: Inside the Series' New Format

 Frank Micelotta / FOX

The X Factor season premiere is days away, and the Fox show, staying true to form, has some shake-ups in store.

Gone are the days of contestants slaving away for weeks with their respective mentors. Now they will be forced to sing for their spots in the final four chairs in each category.

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Those are different too. No longer grouping the hopefuls by ages, as they did last season, the new format will hearken back to season one, lumping contestants in Girls, Boys, Groups and Over 25s.

Instead of sending the Top 10 contenders from each category to the judge's homes for boot camp, they will learn their fates in front of a live audience, when their mentors cut the list down to their favorite four finalists in the musical chairs-style sudden death round.

The new format puts more pressure on judges Simon Cowell, Paulina Rubio, Demi Lovato and Kelly Rowland. It also allows more time for the Top 40 contestants to plead their cases while their mentors decide if they should take seats on the stage or hit the road.

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In the end, the Top 16 finalists are sent through to the nail-biting live shows.

Sunday night's taping at The Shrine in Los Angeles featured much groveling and singing, and the persuasive pleading helped change a judge's mind on more than one occasion.

While some fans may welcome the change, which mirrors the format of the various international X Factor shows, others may be put off by the anti-climactic effect.  Because the judges hear all 10 of their team members back-to-back and make their decisions after each performance, there isn't much incentive to send someone packing until the first four chairs are filled up.

Then, the judge can swap a new performer for someone who is already safely seated. The result is a bit of boredom until the last few acts in each category learn their fates.

Expect to see the usual lineup of stellar singers, heartbreaking backstories, and quirky characters hit the stage this season. Some standouts have already surfaced, prompting Demi to compare one particularly impressive pair of pipes to Diana Ross' during Sunday's taping.

Twitter: @THRMusic

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