17 Mar 2015

Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding voice support for bullied X Factor singer

10:57 am on 17 March 2015

Recording artists Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding and Lorde have reached out to X Factor NZ contestant Joe Irvine after he was bullied by judges Willy Moon and Natalia Kills. 

Both judges were fired by MediaWorks yesterday after a storm of public criticism about the way they treated Joe Irvine after his live performance of ‘Cry Me A River’.

Natalia Kills accused the singer of aping the style of Moon. She told Irvine he was “disgusting” and “artistically atrocious”.

Moon then chimed in, saying: “I feel like you’re going to stitch someone’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience.”

An online petition calling for Kills to be taken off the show and the Facebook page Fire Natalia Kills from X Factor NZ were launched after the tirade. The change.org petition has over 77,000 supporters.

UK singer Ed Sheeran tweeted at Irvine saying: "Don't worry about what anyone else says man. Enjoy yourself with it, that's what singing is about, not what other people think."

Goulding also jumped in, tweeting her 4.3M followers: "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.”

In an earlier tweet that has since been deleted Goulding took a swipe at Kills and Moon, saying: "You sort of have to be, you know, vaguely relevant to have your style stolen just saying."

Rachel Hunter took to Facebook calling Kills’ behaviour "disgusting”. “Thank god I don't know who she is, but she's cruel!! It's our Human responsibility to treat people with empathy, compassion & kindness.”

Lorde showed her support, sending Irvine a box of cupcakes and a note saying: “your individuality, positive energy & spirit are infectious.”

She also shared her own experience of bullying.

“No matter how many people make fun of me for how I dress, move & act, I’m being me and that’s what’s important”.

The judges’ tirade started with the Kills accusing Irvine of aping Moon’s style. “As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you've copied my husband.”

“You're a laughing stock. It's cheesy, it's disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence even having to dignify you with an answer of my opinion.”

Her husband added to the attack, comparing the contestant to Psycho character, Norman Bates.

“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.”

Last night's show featured just Stan Walker and Melanie Blatt in the judges' chair and host Dominic Bowden opened the show saying: "Following last night's show, MediaWorks has made the decision that Willy Moon and Natalia Kills are leaving the show.

"From all of us, we believe it was the right thing to do. The good news is we're bringing in new mentors for the boys and the groups. They'll be sitting in those chairs right there next week."

MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon released a statement yesterday afternoon saying Kills and Moon were no longer considered suitable to judge X Factor.

“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,” he said.

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand released a statement on Facebook yesterday supporting the decision to sack Kills and Moon, saying their comments “glorified bullying and demeaning behaviour.”

They added that while they were pleased to see New Zealanders stand-up against bullying, they don’t “support or endorse anyone bullying or saying cruel things” back to the husband and wife duo.