'X Factor' Contestant Chris Rene Becomes YouTube Sensation (Video)
The California trash collector's show audition has more than 2 million hits to date and has also spawned cover versions of "Young Homie."
Santa Cruz, Calif. trash collector Chris Rene is now a YouTube sensation thanks to his premiere episode performance on The X Factor.
The video of Rene singing his own composition "Young Homie" on Fox's new competition series has registered more than 2.1 million hits on YouTube to date.
Additionally, the song has already inspired several cover versions which have been posted on the streaming video site as well, including 15-year-old Forrest Burnham's version with piano accompaniment, and acoustic guitar takes by Nicole Christine Pedraza and Eric May Pantay.
The nearly nine-minute video of Rene's performance includes an interview with him in which he says, "I want to be on stages, singing for people, making money" and "I'm done with hauling trash, time to sing on stage and entertain America."
Rene, who told judges Antonio "L.A." Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell that he was 70 days sober, admits to a drug-addicted past in the clip, "I was smoking weed at 12, 13; drinking beer at 15, then [segued] to cocaine and methamphetamines.
"I have this disease called addiction. The shame and the guilt just got to me. It broke me. There's always a chance and there's always a choice. Instead of doing nothing with myself, I want my son to see me singing on stages because life is too precious to change."
When asked what the contest's prize money would mean for him, Rene replied, "It would mean the world. Specifically it would mean stability for me and my son, my family."
The judges' reactions to his performance were enthusiastic across the board. "Honey, I'm tripping on you. I can't even describe your talent," said Scherzinger.
"I work with some of the greatest hip-hop artists from Jay-Z to Kanye West and all of my boys, they would be proud of me today to tell you that you are the truth," proclaimed Reid.
Cowell declared, "Always my favorite feeling in the world is when I sit in this chair and I meet a star for the first time. Ad there's something about you, what I like is that maybe you need the show, maybe we need you."