Rene said: "When I found out it was Michael Jackson week I was really excited because my family has a connection to him. My grandfather was a songwriter. He wrote 'Rockin' Robin' and then the Jackson 5 picked that song up."
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter backstage why he hadn't performed 'Rockin' Robin', he explained: "We thought about it, but then we decided this song was a better song for me. ['I'll Be There'] had a Lauryn Hill vibe to it and I could perform it my way.
"It's more of a song I'd probably put on my album."
Nicole Scherzinger praised his "fresh spin" on the song and said he sounded the best he ever had, adding: "What is so amazing about Michael Jackson is that you always feel his spirit through his music and I felt your spirit tonight and it was so beautiful."
Paula Abdul agreed that he looked better than ever on stage and suggested he "manifested with abundance in the heart department" because he could connect with everybody.
Simon Cowell, however, thought he might need "a lot of support" from his hometown to ensure his place in the next round, saying the vocals were shaky at the beginning but the rap was good.
The other acts in the running for the $5 million recording contract prize are: Astro, Marcus Canty, Drew, Rachel Crow, Melanie Amaro and Josh Krajcik.
The X Factor continues with another double elimination and a performance by rapper Tinie Tempah tonight (Thursday, December 1) at 8/7c on Fox