By Adam Rivera
Originality proved to be the deciding factor in crowning the winner of The R Factor Season VII on Friday, Sept. 30. Junior health crisis management major Chris Patrick took home the title and stole the show by adding fresh verses to popular songs, as well as originals.
Before the competition began, senior public relations major Kevin Grunder and freshman English major Jacklyn Palmer came onstage, reprising their roles as hosts from the auditions.
The hosts explained that the competition would be broken into two rounds. Each of the seven finalists would perform one song, after which voting would commence to select the final two contestants. However, the audience members would also get to vote via text, allowing the spectators a voice in the decision process.
Similar to the auditions, Rider’s Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Barbati and former X Factor participants Trace Kennedy and Dani Knights served as judges.
After the hosts explained the logistics, the competition was set to begin.
For the first round, Patrick performed his own version of “All of the Lights” by Kanye West, with verses he wrote himself. Patrick proved himself an expert performer, delaying his appearance on stage while having 2014 R Factor winner Milika Griffith sing Rihanna’s verse of the original song.
Once the excitement reached its peak, Patrick burst through the curtains, rapping about how Rider should cut its tuition — a line that was met with approval from the crowd.
Once finished his routine, Patrick received a standing ovation from the audience.
Barbati, Patrick’s mentor during the weeks leading up to the finals, was incredibly proud of Patrick and feels the crowd’s strong reaction was a response to Patrick’s willingness to take risks and be himself on stage.
“I have been so honored over the years to work with some of the most genuine, passionate students to participate in this program,” said Barbati. “While the other mentors seem to focus on the technicalities of singing, I really look to highlight my performers’ strengths and find ways to showcase their personalities in a way that connects with the audience in a meaningful way.”
After the first round concluded and the votes were cast, Palmer and Grunder announced a new addition to The R Factor — a duet performed by all members of each mentor’s team. Since sophomore arts administration major Kalif Jones and Patrick were both on Team Nick, they performed together. Patrick and Jones wrote their own verses for their original song, “One Man Could Change the World.”
“I wish I could honestly perform ‘One Man Could Change the World’ again with Kalif,” Patrick said. ‘It was one of the coolest moments of the night for me.”
Although the duets gave all the contestants another chance to show their abilities, only two could return to the stage for the finals. Palmer announced that the first finalist was Patrick, the second being Jones.
As Barbati realized that both members of his team were advancing to the final round, his excitement was visible. Jones, Patrick and Barbati hugged in a rush of joy and relief.
Patrick attributes his and Jones advancement to the finals to Barbati’s assistance.
“Initially, I was not even sure if [Barbati] would be a great coach for me. I was wrong,” Patrick said. “[Barbati] did everything to help me execute not only great songs but very creative ones, in my opinion.”
Jones began the second round, following Patrick’s example by playing to the crowd, lifting the mic from the stand, and folding the stand while shaking his head dismissively.
Once he finished, the only thing left was for Patrick to take the stage. Patrick referenced the fact that he had performed many original works during the competition.
“I’m glad I made it to the finals so you guys have the chance to hear this song,” he said.
In contrast to his earlier energy, Patrick was much calmer and sang a personal song, “You can Always Come Home,” about how his loving mother waiting for him at home gives Patrick the strength to keep moving forward.
Upon hearing the news that he had won The R Factor, Patrick was overwhelmed.
“The R Factor experience as a whole was one I’ll never forget,” said Patrick. “When I was younger I had never actually thought I’d be doing something like this. I thought I’d be playing basketball. Now I’m rapping and running track at Rider and I’m loving every moment of it.”
Barbati was pleased with the event as a whole, and feels Patrick’s win was well earned.
“This was, without question, the greatest R Factor series so far,” said Barbati. “Chris Patrick is a winner that represents the true musical artistry that exists on Rider’s campus and, in many ways, he has ushered in a new era of performances at Rider University.”
Printed in the 10/05/16 edition.