On March 16th, The X Factor New Zealand played host to ‘electro pop’ singer Natalia Kills and her husband, also a singer and New Zealand native, Willy Moon. Kills and Moon were judging the array of hopeful singers on the talent show, which would ultimately and hopefully secure one contestant’s future. A contestant, perhaps, like Joe Irvine.
Bullying on X Factor
Irvine is currently a contestant in the ‘Overs’ category, and had made it through to the live shows with his version of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. He sailed through the rest of the competition with covers from Marvin Gaye and, most recently, Michael Buble. It was his rendition of ‘Cry Me a River,’ that started the controversy with Kills and Moon. After his rendition, neither Kills or Moon seemed too thrilled by what they had just watched, and decided to tell Irvine the truth – the whole truth.
Kills looked at Irvine with what only could be described as confusion and, as she later stated, disgust. She began “As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you’ve copied my husband,” referencing Irvine’s slicked back hair and suit. She continued “You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting, and I personally found it artistically atrocious.” Kills’s husband, and sidekick, seemed to agree, adding “To me it feels just a little bit cheap and absurd.”
Moon then made matters personal by bringing in Irvine’s appearance, comparing him to the main character in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Pyscho, “It’s like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing, it feels a little creepy and I feel like you are going to stitch someone’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience.” Kills then took one last dig at the contestant, commenting “It’s absolutely disgusting. You make me sick. You have no identity. I am ashamed to be here.”
Once the pair had finished their tirade, they were met with loud boos from the audience, and fury from fellow judge, Melanie Blatt (made famous in the band All Saints). She argued Irvine’s side, praising his performance and stating that Kills needed glasses to see how good a performance Irvine had delivered. “Glasses?” exclaimed Kills. “I think Mel needs new ones.” Fans of the show as a whole, as well as Irvine, rushed to his defence on Twitter, slamming Kills and Moons for their ‘cruelty’ and ‘disgusting manner,’ with some asking the question on many people’s lips – ‘Who even is Natalia Kills?’
Well, she was born Natalia Noemi Keery-Fisher in Bradford, and adapted the stage name when signed to Will.i.am’s record label will.i.am Music Group, an imprint of Interscope Records. She penned her debut album in 2011, named, Perfectionist. The album found moderate success but many were quick to compare her to Lady Gaga, with critic Jon O’Brien (All Music) hailing the album as ‘formulaic and gimmicky.’ She released a second album in 2013, more appropriately named, Trouble. Again, Kills was compared to Lady Gaga, and the album was described by Matt Collar (also All Music) as a ‘pantomime that artists have been trying to pull off ever since Madonna sang about a sexual experience so revelatory it gave her back her virginity.’
On the other hand, Kills’s husband, Willy Moon, is no stranger to being in the studio. Born and raised in New Zealand, Moon debuted his musical skills on social website, Myspace, for all to hear. He was soon picked up by Island Records, where he recorded his first EP, Here’s Willy Moon. His 2012 single ‘Yeah Yeah’ peaked at number 26 in the iTunes chart, but then found fame on the Apple iPod commercial. Moon married Kills relatively recently, in May 2014. Kills’s best friend took to social media to announce that ‘The dark damsel in distress finally found a boyfriend that she doesn’t have to kill.’
The newlyweds were brought in to the judge the second series of the talent show alongside judges Mel and Stan Walker, a singer famous in his own right in New Zealand. After Kills and Moon laid out their tirade of abuse on Irvine, fans of the show quickly called for the duo to be fired. A petition was drawn up to have the pair removed, and within 24 hours there were over 70,000 signatures. Bosses announced the pair’s dismissal as soon as the show had finished. ‘Last night on X Factor both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable,’ a statement by Mark Weldon of Mediaworks read. They later apologised and reassured viewers that Kills and Moon would no longer sit on the panel. ‘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.’
— melanie blatt (@melblatt) March 15, 2015
With the Internet in uproar, as well as the audience, Kills and Moon were less apologetic than expected. Kills took to Twitter to thank her fans for the support, and preached her love for the show. She rounded off her ‘apology’ by hinting that she couldn’t help but stir up trouble, referencing her own music video, Problem. Moon also took to Twitter, where he posted something like an apology, but maintaining that you never really knew what went on behind the scenes. The pair both adopted this attitude, insisting there were contributing factors to what had happened and not all was what it seemed. But the public didn’t care much for their poor attempts at saying sorry, and demanded they apologise properly to Irvine. Days later, the following statements emerged:
Despite the personality bashing, Irvine rallied around his peers and accepted the support given. One of his biggest supporters was fellow New Zealander, Lorde. She wrote to Irvine and sent him cupcakes to heal the salt in wound abuse from Kills and Moon. Even Louis Walsh got involved. Speaking to Irish station RTE 2FM, he praised Irvine but stated that Kills ‘has no class, no taste, she’ll never work again.’ The mess seemed to blow over until this week, when Kills and Moon began poking fun at their recent debacle. She posted pictures of cartoon, Dora the Explorer, with the sarcastic comment ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a doppelgänger in our midst… Dora, how dare you steal my look?!’
The Internet quickly responded:
Natalia Kills is the last artist on Earth who should be judging for artistic identity and originality. Really queen? pic.twitter.com/PArp6ks2Fr
— Oscar Raymundo (@OscarRaymundo) March 16, 2015
— stylenoir (@stylenoir) March 16, 2015
Natalia Kills breaking into the mirrored world to attack her reflection for copying her style pic.twitter.com/c1o3Eit45o
— Common Gay Boy (@CGBPosts) March 16, 2015
It seems like Natalia Kills will never be able to win against the might of social media. With Kills and Moon now safely off the panel, people are asking what could possibly be next for the pair? Kills seems to have proven, in her music and in life, that her words and attitude are just clearly a problem.