Everybody loves a good story, and "X-Factor" second-runner-up Chris Rene had a far more interesting one than your average reality singing-competition contestant, having struggled with numerous addictions and doing a stint in rehab before trying out for the show and ultimately becoming a fan favorite. Though in the end the Santa Cruz native lost the big prize to Melanie Amaro, he's nevertheless forging full steam ahead and preparing to release his debut album on Epic Records later this year.

In anticipation of the forthcoming LP, the singer-songwriter today dropped the album's first single, a new studio version of his self-penned hit "Young Homie", the song he auditioned with and which ultimately led to him garnering a spot as one of the contestants on the Fox series' first season.


This studio version of the song is a sleek, pop-driven track that's been crafted for heavy rotation on Top 40 radio, though while it ultimately boasts a hopeful message, some of its lyrical content ("Brother's locked up/Sister's knocked up", "It's been nine months now/Haven't had a drink and I'm starting to see clear now") directly addresses Rene's past personal struggles.

Produced by J.R. Rotem, who has crafted a number of pop hits for artists including Rihanna, Sean Kingston, Jason Derulo, Leona Lewis and Rick Ross, "Young Homie" is ultimately a pretty standard slice of pop fluff, but what else did you really expect from an "X-Factor" contestant? Nevertheless, at the end of the day the song is good and catchy enough that it should connect with Rene's existing fans and those who enjoy breezy, straightforward Top 40 fare.

"Young Homie" will be available on iTunes starting March 13. Rene is also slated to perform the song on "The Ellen Degeneres Show" the following day.

My grade for the track: a perfectly adequate C+. After listening to the full song below, rate it for yourself at top left!

Follow me on Twitter @HitFixChris