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'X Factor New Zealand' Judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon Fired for 'Bullying' Contestant

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
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The X Factor New Zealand recently hired possibly the two edgiest judges in reality TV, English indie-pop songstress Natalia Kills and her husband, New Zealand-born punkabilly crooner Willy Moon. But perhaps they were a little too edgy. The controversial couple has been sacked from the series, after appearing on only one live episode, thanks to a change.org petition calling for their dismissal that gathered more than 70,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

The reason for the public outcry Down Under? Fans claimed the pair “bullied” contestant Joe Irvine with a series of scathing, eyebrow-raising remarks that could make even Simon Cowell blanch.

The incident occurred during the season’s first live show on Sunday, when Natalia was enraged by Joe’s “Cry Me a River” performance, which she claimed blatantly ripped off her husband’s ’50s-inspired musical style and fashion sense. After bitterly declaring, “We have a doppelganger in our midst!” and bashing the contestant’s “artistic integrity,” she yelled: “I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence, having to even dignify you with an answer of my opinion.” She also called the singer “a laughingstock,” “cheesy,” and "disgusting.”

This was not the first time that Natalia had courted controversy on the show. Spectators at one of the X Factor audition tapings in Auckland reported that she screamed and swore at audience members, including children.

Natalia’s husband Willy, sitting to her right, remained silent at first, but then gave Joe his own nasty critique: “It’s like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing. It’s just a little bit creepy. It feels like you’re going to stitch someone’s skin to your face, and then kill everyone in the audience.”

The loud jeers that followed made it clear that audience members were on Joe’s side, not the judges’. The resulting, above-mentioned petition only called for the firing of Natalia, but on Monday it was announced that both judges will not be back on the show.

In a statement issued by parent company Mediaworks just hours before Monday’s live results episode, chief executive Mark Weldon said: “Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable. While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges. Contestants put their all into this competition and they should expect to receive feedback and criticism that is professional and constructive. We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of X Factor judges and they will leave the show, effective immediately.”

Ed Sheeran was one of many supporters who reached out to Joe Irvine (who handled the situation very well), tweeting: “Don’t worry about what anyone else says man. Enjoy yourself with it, that’s what singing is about, not what other people think.” And a member of New Zealand rock royalty, Lorde, even sent Joe cupcakes with a note telling him he’s “doing an awesome job on the show.”


While Natalia and Willy’s remarks were out of line, making them perhaps not the best judges of talent, there’s no denying that they have talent themselves. Perhaps they should just stick to singing. Check out their archival performances at Yahoo Music below:

Do you think Natalia Kills and Willy Moon went too far?

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