Prior to taking the stage to sing Alicia Keys' 'No One' on 'X Factor' Wednesday night, Chris Rene opened up about the last conversation he had with his dad. Rene's father was always trying to help him get clean, something the singer only accomplished seven months ago.

"I said to him, 'I'm sorry for all the times I was bad. I'm gonna make you proud.' And then he passed away," Rene said before breaking down. That was four years ago, but all four judges agreed that the 28-year-old did his late father proud during the last round before next week's finale. The heavily tattooed bad boy turned good began the song behind a maraschino red piano, something he'd never done before. After a few lines, he stood up and was joined by a stage full of dancers in what amounted to a performance fit for a motivational speaker conference.

"I said earlier you got to come out and deliver, you just delivered big time," Simon Cowell said after Rene finished. Compliments from the British judge were scarce on Wednesday night.

Nicole Sherzinger agreed, but was more specific. "It's your spirit. Your spirit transcends across the universe. It's because you believe, I believe," she said.

While Rene isn't the best singer in the competition, his story and passion may carry him into the final three for the $5 million grand prize. Cowell called him the dark horse of the competition.

Watch Chris Rene Sing 'No One' on 'X Factor'