As "American Idol" heads into its 10th season, legions of wannabe pop stars have descended on Nashville for a shot at overnight fame.
"Idol" supervising producer Patrick Lynn told The Associated Press that around 10,000 people braved the sweltering heat to line up for wristbands Thursday morning (July 15), days before auditions kick off Saturday at the city's Bridgestone Arena. (According to the show's website, "Idol" wannabes are not allowed to camp out and must return Saturday with their wristbands.)
In addition to the show's track record for producing pop megastars, there might be an increase of hopefuls for the upcoming season due to the show's recent change in eligibility guidelines. An "Idol" producer announced in June that the minimum age for contestants had been lowered from 16 to 15.
"A lot of young, talented people are now seeking careers and representation before they turn 16," "American Idol" Executive Producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz said in a statement at the time. "Lowering the age limit allows us to tap into this talent pool." Lynn conceded that the breakout success of teen phenom Justin Bieber was a factor in the change.
The show is also soldiering along without caustic judge Simon Cowell but has yet to announce a replacement. The AP reports that some "Idol" auditioners in Nashville were disappointed that they wouldn't be subjected to Cowell's no-nonsense critique, while others were grateful they wouldn't have to perform for him on the upcoming season. In addition to the show's current judges — Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres — several celebrities have appeared as guest judges in recent years, including Mary J. Blige and Joe Jonas.
The show will head around the country to find the next Idol, and upcoming auditions will take place in several cities, including New Orleans, Austin and San Francisco.
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