Keith Urban is gearing up to begin judging Season 14 of 'American Idol,' and he's filling fans in on some big changes in the new season.

The judging process began the same way this year as in previous seasons, with Urban and fellow judges Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr., traveling the country to audition singers, ending up with 48 contestants. But this year, they used a different tactic to help narrow the field to 24 singers.

“We sent over 200 people through to Hollywood, and we narrowed it down, and then even further down, to get to our top 48,” Urban says. “And those 48 guys and girls, we took into the House of Blues in Los Angeles to put them into a live club setting, where the band was set up, and they got up onstage and did a song each in front of the audience in that club.”

That experience helped the judges see which singers were already comfortable on stage and which ones still have work to do.

“For me, it was a really important part of the process because in years past, we’ve seen them in these various audition environments, and then they go straight to the TV studio in front of a live audience. I really wanted to see what they’re like in front of a club setting -- can they perform, do they know how to perform live, do they know how to move and connect with an audience?" Urban says. "So that was a really telling environment to have them in, and I’m glad that we got to do that. We then narrowed it down from there, but that was a really helpful part, to make sure that we have solid performers going into the live shows.”

As for what Urban hopes to see from contestants this season, the 'Somewhere in My Car' singer says he "never think[s] of it in terms of finding the next anybody."

"We want to find the first of anyone, and that sort of individualism and uniqueness is what I’m always waiting for with ‘Idol,'" he says. "I want to find that person that is just extraordinarily original, because they are the ones. Adele was just very original. Taylor [Swift] was very original.

"The artists that have really solidified their careers and made significant albums; they’re the ones that everyone else then tries to copy," Urban adds. "I’m interested in finding originals.”

'American Idol''s 14th season kicks off on Jan. 7 on Fox.