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For the seventh season, auditions began in San Diego, California, on July 30, 2007, and continued in these cities: Contestants were required to be between the ages of 16 and 28 on July 28, 2007, and eligible to work in the United States.
Those ineligible include former contestants who had previously reached the semifinal of the first through third seasons, or the last phase of Hollywood round of fourth through sixth seasons (top 44 of the fourth and fifth seasons, top 40 of the sixth season), those holding recording or management contracts, or those who were not US citizens or landed immigrants (i.e. One auditioner this year, Alexis Cohen, gained media attention due to her outraged reaction and profuse profanities after the judges rejected her in the Philadelphia audition.
The Hollywood week took place at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California, over a period of five days.
A total of 164 contestants were invited from the seven audition cities.
David Cook was announced the winner of the competition on May 21, 2008, defeating runner-up David Archuleta by a margin of roughly 12 million votes out of over 97 million, which was at that time the highest recorded vote total in the show's history. The seventh season was the first season during which neither the winner nor the runner-up was ever in the bottom group during any week before the finale on May 21, 2008.
They lined up on stage in groups of 10 and each sang a short segment of a song a cappella.
Some were shown playing the keyboard, guitar, or even the drums.
If the judges approved of the contestantss performances, they received a "free pass" to the third and final round of performances, and 48 contestants were given this "free pass".
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The first round of individual performances lasted two days.