American Idol drops age requirement to 15

In honor of American Idol’s tenth anniversary season, American Idol is expanding the audition pool by one year. This year, 15-year-olds may make the Idol cut and the audition schedule is out!

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest

“A lot of young, talented people are now seeking careers and representation before they turn 16,” American Idol executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz explained. “Lowering the age limit allows us to tap into this talent pool.”

That extra year has fans thinking Justin Bieber mania. While some — most likely tweens everywhere — are cheering the change, others fear it’s going to turn out a host of bubble gum cuties. Still others imagine it won’t make much of a difference at all, since few teenagers make the cut!

In fact, it might have more impact were American Idol to move the upper age cut-off up from 28 to 29, attracting a few more mature performers who have already found their voices and styles — or even their Pants on the Ground groove. That, however, is not in the cards.

As for why the upper age limit is sticking to 28, SheKnows imagines the explanation is Simon Cowell’s new upcoming import, The X Factor. Among the differences between Idol and X Factor is X Factor’s lack of age limit. Fox doesn’t want to step on the toes of its new show!

Along with the extra year, Fox also announced the dates of American Idol’s first-round auditions.

The competition kicks off July 17 in Nashville, Tennessee (Bridgestone Arena) and then heads to Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 21 (Bradley Center), New Orleans on July 26 (TBA), East Rutherford, New Jersey on August 3 (IZOD Center), Austin, Texas on August 11 (Frank Erwin Center) and finally, San Francisco on August 19 (AT&T Park).

Early contenders will not likely get to meet Simon Cowell’s replacement. It could take all summer to tap American Idol’s newest judge.

“Auditions don’t begin until September, so we do have time,” Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice said back in May. “There is no bigger question for the summer.”

What’s your take on the new age change? Post a comment to let us know!

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