Be Like Mike

 blog beattttChris Rene channels Michael Jackson on ‘X Factor’ tribute night

Wednesday was a memorable night on Fox’s “The X Factor,” as the remaining seven contestants paid tribute to the late, great Michael Jackson. For Santa Cruz singer/songwriter Chris Rene, the episode was particularly meaningful as his grandfather wrote “Rockin’ Robin” and parts of “Ben,” both of which were later sung by Jackson.

Donning a sparkling letterman jacket with the letter “M” stitched on the front, Rene chose to perform the Jackson 5’s timeless classic “I’ll be There,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1970.

Even with Jackson’s family in the house—his three children, mother, and some of his brothers were all present—Rene delivered a soothing rendition, with some original rap lyrics interspersed: “My story ain’t a mystery, I’m making history. And for my kids I’ll do anything, find a way to save my life and now everybody’s listening. I call it a gift, they call it a curse. Higher power first, finally getting down to earth.”

Following the performance, the audience erupted with applause, and “X Factor” judge Nicole Scherzinger spoke highly of Rene. “What’s so amazing about Michael Jackson is that you always feel his spirit through his music, and I felt your spirit tonight,” she said. “You sounded the best you’ve ever sang.” Paula Abdul agreed, adding, “You manifest with abundance in the heart department.”

Simon Cowell was less impressed by Rene, saying that his voice was “a little shaky.”

“I think you of all the artists are going to have a real tough week,” said Cowell. “I think you’re going to need a lot of support from your hometown.”

That means you, Santa Cruz. You heard the man—tune in to “The X Factor” tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX and vote for Rene.

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