In 2012, Sonenclar auditioned for the second season of The X Factor USA with the song "Feeling Good" by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse (famously covered by Nina Simone among others). Sonenclar received a standing ovation from all four judges (L. A. Reid commented "You may be 13, but your soul is old!"; Simon Cowell awarded her "4,833 yes'"), and she advanced to the next round. After her successful initial audition, she advanced through the first day of X Factor's "bootcamp," where she sang "Pumped Up Kicks" with Beatrice Miller. Of the 120 contestants who auditioned at bootcamp that day, she was among the sixty or so asked to continue on. At the end of bootcamp, she was chosen to be one of the six contestants in the "teens" category who were invited to perform at the "judges' houses" stage of the competition. She performed the song "Brokenhearted" for the "teens" category mentor, Britney Spears, and Spears' guest judge will. i. am. Both Spears and will. i. am responded positively to her performance; will. i. am remarked appreciatively that she was "possessed. " Sonenclar next advanced into the Top 16 round, where she performed "Good Feeling", then the Top 13 round, where she performed "It Will Rain". When Sonenclar reached the Top 12 round—where she performed "My Heart Will Go On"—it was revealed that she was the second-most-voted for person in the competition so far, behind only Tate Stevens, a distinction she achieved again after advancing to the Top 10 round.