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CMU Beef Of The Week #248: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon v X-Factor v Natalia Kills and Willy Moon v X-Factor

By | Published on Friday 20 March 2015

To be honest, until this week I didn’t even know New Zealand had its own edition of the ‘X-Factor’. But while it may only be in the early stages of its second series right now, this week ensured that the whole world was aware that it’s right there, finding the future popstars of Zealand 2.0.

Natalia Kills & Willy Moon

This week wasn’t just a great week for promoting the existence of ‘XFNZ’, it also put centre stage the fact that Natalia Kills, Willy Moon and Melanie Blatt are all still around and doing things. In ‘making people notice things’ terms, this whole story has been a wild success. Even if it was a bit of a PR disaster for some of those involved.

Though let’s be clear right now, Mel Blatt is fine. You leave her alone. She, it appears from where she sits on the judging panel, is not the Simon Cowell of New Zealand ‘X-Factor’. Maybe of New Zealand in its entirety. God bless you, Mel. I never doubted you. Not for a moment.

Natalia Kills and Willy Moon though. Well, their new claim to fame is that they are the only judges in the history of all ‘X-Factor’ shows to have been sacked for doing some bullying – even though that’s at least 70% the point of the show.

They had claims to fame before that, of course. You don’t get to be a judge on the New Zealand edition of ‘X-Factor’ without having at least one.

Willy Moon’s was that he had a song on an iPod ad once, and is Wiley’s least favourite Willy. His wife, Natalia Kills, meanwhile, is partly known for repeatedly trying to establish a pop career for over a decade, and slightly better known for being a songwriter on Madonna’s latest album. Though she “parted ways” with Cherrytree Records as a performer some “months ago”, a rep for the label told Daily Mail Australia this week.

But, anyway, back to this bullying. How does one get sacked from ‘X-Factor’ for bullying? Let’s examine it all, shall we?

Moon and Kills had managed to keep their judging seats without too many problems through the first part of the series, where a procession of deluded members of the public are bullied for daring to leave their houses. But then came the first live show, at which one finalist, Joe Irvine, sang a version of ‘Cry Me A River’. Basically Michael Buble’s version of ‘Cry Me A River’.

You might have thought that was enough for the judges to lay into the ‘X’ contender, but it wasn’t the cover version itself that offended. Rather, the couple took offence at Irvine’s visual cover version of Willy Moon. Does that even make sense? Let’s just go over to Natalia Kills to explain.

“We have a doppelganger in out midst”, she spat, having stewed her way through the performance. “I – as an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property – I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband”.

Irvine’s crime, it turned out, was to wear a suit and have a slightly square haircut. You might argue that he had actually been styled to look a bit (I man, barely, but maybe a bit) like Michael Buble. Or at least some sort of generic crooner. Or just, I don’t know, like a man wearing a suit. But no, this was a deliberate attempt to steal the distinct style that Willy Moon is known for the world over. THE WORLD OVER, I TELL YOU.

“Do you not have any value or respect for originality? You’re a laughing stock”, Kills continued. “It’s cheesy, disgusting [and] 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”.

Had she actually moved on to critiquing his performance there? It’s hard to tell. What does her husband think? “To me it just feels a little bit cheap and absurd”, he sneered. “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 gonna stitch someone’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience”.

Is Willy Moon Joe Irvine’s mother now? I’m confused. And what sort of person who is clearly committed to developing a short-lived pop career would risk it all by murdering their potential record-buyers? It just doesn’t make sense. That said, I suppose it makes about as much sense as claiming to own the copyright in wearing a suit and having a haircut.

So that was live show number one. The pair, though, did not make it to live show number two, broadcaster TV3 having decided that it would “not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges”. So, bear that in mind Blatt. And you too, ‘Australian Idol’ winner Stan Walker, who I’ve not mentioned before, but is probably worth talking up now that he’s 50% of the judging panel (or at least was for that one show, but we’ll come back to that).

Of course, what you see on screen and in the press is almost never the whole story. Something Kills was keen to stress when she issued an apology via Twitter later this week.

“A lot goes on behind the scenes of a reality TV show and [what] you see isn’t always the whole story”, she said, just like I told you she had. “The show brought me on to bring my passion, dramatic expression and perspective. I was encouraged to be outspoken and things got out of hand”.

She also apologised directly to Irvine, encouraging him to “be natural, unconventional and be you!” Which, in light of all that’s happened, just seems like another dig at the whole suit/hair thing.

Moon also put forward the idea that their outburst had come as a result of goading by the producers of the show, saying: “The show encourages judges to be forthright and highly opinionated. It went too far and I never intended to single out anyone”.

Mate, you compared the guy to a serial killer. I don’t doubt the judges were told to be provocative where they could be, but telling someone that you feel like they’re “gonna stitch someone’s skin to your face” is a long way from “not singling someone out”. It’s also a long way from telling someone how good or bad their singing is. And anyway, maybe that was the pop niche Irvine was going for. Did you even consider that? Everyone’s got to have a gimmick these days.

It’s all in the past now though. In fact I can barely remember it happening. It’s like new judges – Australian singer and actress Natalie Bassingthwaighte and I Am Giant drummer Shelton Woolright – have always been there. Even though they’ve not actually appeared on the show yet.

Back in the UK, with our own ‘X-Factor’ slowly shedding viewers with each series, presumably the PR people whose job it is to leak stories about bickering judges to the tabloids are watching all this unfold with intrigue. If Louis Walsh doesn’t jump on stage and gut a contestant for having a bit of an accent on the next series, I will be disappointed.