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This is the first season in which the contestant age minimum was reduced to 15 years old. Note 1: Actual number not announced on the show but this number is based on the number of names listed on website and may not be the actual total.

In addition to the above cities, for the first time contestants were allowed to audition online via Myspace / Facebook / Twitter.

At the end of the ninth season, Sony Music Entertainment's affiliation to Idol also ended.

Interscope Records, which is part of Universal Music Group, replaced Sony Music Entertainment as Idols official partner record label.

Interscope's Chairman Jimmy Iovine, a songwriter and producer, was named as the in-house mentor to work with the contestants on a weekly basis.

on Wednesday’s finale, runner-up Lauren Alaina planted one on the country heartthrob. “Oh no,” Mc Creery, 17, said during a conference call on Thursday. Me and her – it’s a brother-and-sister relationship.” As for the kiss, Mc Creery knew Alaina, 16, was going to do it if he won.

“She told me before the show she was going to [kiss me],” he said. She’s a character.” The finalists – the youngest pair to compete in an “We are really close friends,” Mc Creery said.

Some suggested changes, such as allowing the finalists to release music while the season is still in progress rather than waiting to record an album, were not implemented, although music were released somewhat earlier than previous seasons.

The judges were Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson.

To audition, they were required to upload a 40-second audition clip of them singing a pre-approved song.

The internet auditioners, including Karen Rodriguez, were called back to Los Angeles to audition in front of the judges.

Those who made the final sixty were then taken to Las Vegas in an extra round where they were asked to sing songs from The Beatles, and then a further solo round in Los Angeles.

It was originally planned that 20 contestants would be left by the end of the Hollywood rounds, however, 24 contestants were chosen instead for the semifinal, and they would perform in two groups of twelve in a semi-final sudden death round where ten finalists – five girls and five boys – would be voted in by the viewers.

“We have PE [together] so we play football all the time,” Alaina added.