A record number of hopefuls have turned out for auditions for the tenth series of American Idol, according to reports.

So far, nearly 50,000 people are said to have tried out for the show since auditions began in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 15.

And the crowds of 16,000 in that city and 17,000 in Rutherford, New Jersey, are among some of the biggest that the show has ever seen, second only to the record 22,000 that attended the Washington DC auditions in the fourth series.

“I think people are sensing that season 10 is a historic moment, and they all want to take a shot at being the 10th American Idol,” Ryan Seacrest said at the New Jersey auditions earlier this week.

The new series of the show – the first without Simon Cowell, who has quit to work on the US version of The X Factor – is the first to feature a lower age limit, with 15-year-olds allowed to audition. The upper age limit will remain the same at 28.

Nigel Lythgoe, who is rejoining the programme as executive producer, told Fox News that he is hoping “to find the next Michael Jackson”.

And he added that he was ready to have attention on the show shift from the judges to the singers.

“Really, we should be talking about the contestants, and that’s what I want to see happening again. Focusing on their talent,” he said.