"They had me sing some real mature power ballads that usually need a good amount of life experience to sing," the 23-year-old who now goes by the name Carly Rose tells PEOPLE of her time on the second season of the talent competition show. "I mean, I don't think I'd kissed a boy yet. I was literally a child."
But today, after 10 years of ups and downs and U-turns, it's that child that has grown into a woman more than ready to take another stab at the song that put her on the map.
"It's like I am reintroducing myself in a way," the native New Yorker says of her recently released and somewhat reimagined version of Karmin's 2012 top 20 hit "Brokenhearted." "I felt like there was a space to elevate it from what I did with it when I was that age. If the heart of it was still there and I brought my current life into it, I knew that we could do something special. I feel like we really did achieve that."
Dylan Reid Carly Rose
Undoubtedly, Rose is the first to admit that her time on The X-Factor was filled with its share of chaos and confusion, illuminated recently when Rose claimed on TikTok that Spears' manager Larry Rudolph attempted to take "full control" of her life while she was competing on the show back in 2012. (Rudolph has not commented.)
"I underestimated the army that is behind Ms. Britney Spears," explains Rose of the backlash she has received as of late as a result of the post. "She has extremely dedicated fans." Rose pauses. "I really wasn't trying to speak in a way that placed blame or spoke about anyone negatively. It was more of just coming from a place where I was just trying to clarify my story and my path and how I chose to go about life right after X Factor."
Indeed, life after The X-Factor did come with its share of trials and tribulations, as Rose immediately found herself smack dab in the middle of "the machine" of manufactured stardom.
"There were people on my team all trying to figure out what I should do and who I was and what sound I should have," Rose remembers. "Here I was on stage and on live television in front of the world trying to show everyone who I was when I was trying to figure out who the heck I was."
Rose was soon in high school, armed with music she was excited about and a team that she felt confident with, until she wasn't.
"I don't even know if I've spoken about this," she says quietly. "Basically, I had a sexual assault experience with my manager at the time." She pauses. "Sexual harassment, I guess, would be a better way of speaking on it. So yeah, that relationship had to end and with that, the music was put on hold."
Dillon Matthew Carly Rose
Rose then too decided to put her career on hold.
"Everybody had their own opinion on that," Rose remarks. "Even at that young of an age, I just knew in my heart and my gut what I needed for myself, and what I needed was life experience before I went and tried to be an artist. I just felt like I needed to have more personal life experiences before I could tell any sort of story that anyone might want to hear."
In the spring of 2021, Rose graduated from the University of Southern California and now hopes to begin again with the reimagined "Brokenhearted."
"I feel like this is my chance to sort of tie a bow on The X-Factor," Rose concludes. "I'm not running away from it, which I did for a while. I just don't want it to mark me as an artist or a person. I want to acknowledge it, be grateful for it and then give my fans the gift of 'Brokenhearted.' I basically want to say to them, 'I'm moving on — please come on this journey with me.'"