X Factor New Zealand axes judges after shocking outburst
Little-known pop singers Natalia Kills and Willy Moon have been at the centre of a firestorm of criticism over the weekend after the pair, judges on the New Zealand version of X Factor, delivered a shocking outburst to a contestant on live television.
The wave of public anger was so great that, less than 24 hours after the incident, the pair were both sacked from the judging panel.
Giving her critique after a performance by contestant Joe Irvine, who was dressed in a dapper suit for the occasion, Kills launched into a tirade accusing the hopeful of copying her co-judge - and husband - Moon.
"Ladies and gentleman, I'm just going to state the obvious: We have a doppelgänger in our midst," said 28-year-old British-born Kills.
"As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband," she said.
"From the hair to the suit, do you not have any value or respect for originality?"
Kills said Irvine's look was "cheesy" and "disgusting," continuing: "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."
Harsh words for a guy in a suit crooning Cry Me A River, no? Moon himself didn't go much easier on the contestant, saying, "It just feels a bit cheap and absurd. I mean, it's like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother's clothing. 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 everyone in the audience."
Fellow judge, All Saints singer Mel Blatt tried to salvage the situation for a clearly shaken Joe, telling him "I believe in you" - but she didn't hold back after the show, labelling Natalia Kills a "twat" on social media.
In the wake of the outburst, more than 77,000 had signed a change.org petition to have Natalia booted from the show - and sure enough, producers today announced that the pair - initially hyped as the first husband and wife judging couple in X Factor history - would not be appearing again.
"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," Mediaworks Chief Executive Mark Weldon said in a statement.
"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."
This is the pair's second brush with controversy in the past week - they had earlier landed in hot water after a New Zealand mother accused Moon of verbally abusing her in a crowded bakery. After the allegations were published in the media, Moon and Kills continued to lash out at the woman on social media, both repeatedly labelling her a "c*nt."
For the uninitiated, Natalia Kills has released two albums - the first peaked at 129 on the UK charts while the second did not chart. Singles-wise, she has enjoyed two top 10 hits in the Austrian charts.
Willy Moon's chart history can be found below.