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In addition, the Hollywood round was extended to two weeks.In the first round, the 147 contestants each sang a short solo a cappella performance of any song.The season introduced Kara Dio Guardi as the fourth judge on the Idol panel.Kris Allen, a native of Conway, Arkansas, was announced the winner of the competition on May 20, 2009, defeating runner-up Adam Lambert after nearly 100 million votes.The twelfth season is the only season the judges' save was not used.
The semifinals saw the biggest change as the wild card round returned for the first time since the third season.
The eighth season of American Idol premiered on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, and concluded on May 20, 2009.
Judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson continued to judge the show's contestants, along with Ryan Seacrest as host.
This can only be invoked up until the Final 5 (Final 6 for the thirteenth and fourteenth seasons.) The following week two contestants will be eliminated if the save is used because nobody is eliminated on the week that the save is used, except in eleventh and thirteenth seasons when only one contestant was eliminated.
The save can only be used once per season and it must be unanimous.