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The world doesn’t often pay attention to what’s happening in little ol’ New Zealand, but a pair of bullying judges on the country’s X Factor show have attracted global attention.
The husband and wife judging duo, British pop star Natalia Kills and Kiwi singer Willy Moon, ripped into a contestant during a live show – but his singing wasn’t their problem.
Twenty-five-year-old aspiring singer Joe Irvine had just finished his rendition of Cry Me a River by Michael Buble when Natalia laid into him over his appearance, saying he was a “doppelganger” of her husband.
“As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted how much you have copied my husband, from the hair to the suit,” Natalia said, as fellow judges Stan Walker and Melanie Blatt looked on first in confusion and later in shock.
“Do you not have any respect for originality? You’re a laughingstock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting, I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious,” she went on, by this point nearly drowned out by boos and jeers from the crowd.
“I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence having to even dignify you with an answer of my opinion.”
Standing uncomfortably on stage, Joe graciously thanked her, obviously hoping to move on, but Willy jumped in.
“To me it just feels a little bit cheap and absurd,” he said.
“It’s like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing,” he continued, referring to the killer in the film Psycho.
“It’s just a little bit creepy, and I feel like you’re going to stitch someone’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience.”
Natalia had to have the last word, adding: “I’m going say it. It’s disgusting. You make me sick. You have no identity. I can’t stand it, I’m ashamed to be here.”
Judge Melanie came to Joe’s defense, saying she thought he was dressed better than Willy, and that she believed in him. But the damage was already done.
Social media in New Zealand practically exploded in response to the nasty comments from Natalia and WIlly, demanding their heads, and by Monday afternoon New Zealand time they had been sacked.
In a statement, network bosses said that Natalia and Willy were “no longer suitable” to judge on the show following their “completely unacceptable” comments.
“While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges.”
Late the following night Natalia and Willy were spotted boarding a plane bound for Los Angeles, which is due to arrive around 3 p.m. today, L.A. time.
A number of musicians have offered their support to Joe, including Ed Sheeran, who told Joe not to worry about what anyone thought of him.
@jooe63_joe don’t worry about what anyone else says man. Enjoy yourself with it, that’s what singing is about, not what other people think
— Ed Sheeran (@edsheeran) March 16, 2015
Ellie Goulding chimed in…
Can’t stop myself from commenting on NZ X factor situation because I can’t stop thinking about how mean it was. Thank goodness they’re gone — Ellie Goulding (@elliegoulding) March 16, 2015
…as did Kiwi singers Ginny Blackmore and Ruby Frost.
Justice AND mercy can go hand in hand. Let’s be the best nation of people we can be. And remember we’re all fallible #xfactordrama
— Ginny Blackmore (@GinnyBlackmore) March 15, 2015
Neither Natalia nor Willie have apologized following the incident. Natalia did, however, post the following on Twitter.
I love you guys, thanks for your support & understanding my passionate opinions! You know what they say about me… https://t.co/DNBksvmYWM
— NATALIA KILLS (@NataliaKills) March 15, 2015
To which X Factor judge Melanie responded:
Meanwhile, Joe seems to be taking it in his stride, retweeting messages of support and thanking his fans.
— joe irvine (@jooe63_joe) March 15, 2015
Thank you all so much I’m so exhausted I’ve tried to read every1s messages you are all amazing pic.twitter.com/vCqoSN3fPJ
— joe irvine (@jooe63_joe) March 16, 2015