'American Idol' lowers contestant age

Hit US reality show 'American Idol' has lowered the contestant age to find a new Justin Bieber.

According to judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi, the show altered the minimum contestant age from 16 down to 15 in the hope of finding a new teen singing sensation.

Jackson told 'MTV News': "I think different people will show up this time. You're seeing stars like Justin Bieber, a lot of younger artists do it, you know? So you want to take advantage of that... there's a lot of kids that are getting better earlier. It's great."

Bieber shot to fame last year when he was still 15, with his debut single 'One Time'.

DioGuardi claims they are not necessarily attempting to find a rival for the teen chart topper, but hope to find someone who could be around in the music industry for years to come.

She explained: "I mean, take LeAnn Rimes, at a very young age she was singing very deep country songs, and she had that old soul and it worked. It could be a kid who's really young, who didn't even know he was that talented, or it could be someone that's a little bit older that, for whatever reason, it hasn't worked out yet.

"That's what's exciting about the show: It's about that dream and helping people realise it."

Jackson and DioGuardi are joined on the 'American Idol' judging panel by chatshow host Ellen DeGeneres.

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