Remember When Natalia Kills Managed To Kill Her Own Career On ‘X Factor NZ’?

Natalia Kills was fired after she bullied a contestant for wearing a suit, which was her husband's ~thing~.

natalia kills cancel culture

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The year was 2015: The Dress had taken over the internet, Zayn Malik decided to leave One Direction, and Natalia Kills managed to cancel herself and her career on X Factor NZ. 

While Natalia Kills was never really all that well known, after her fiasco on X Factor NZ, she instantly became known around the world as bully. The British singer made headlines when she and her husband, Willy Moon, were fired from the singing competition mid-season after she delivered some absolutely brutal critiques to Joe Irvine, a contestant on the show.

On the second season of X Factor NZ, Natalia Kills accused Joe of copying her husband after he performed a rendition of Michael Bublé’s ‘Cry Me A River’ in the first live show.

Dressed in a suit, like most men singing on the show do, Natalia Kills called Joe a “doppelgänger” and said that he was “disgusting” and that he “makes her sick”.

“As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband,” Natalia said. “From the hair to the suit, do you not have any value or respect for originality? You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting — I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious.”

“It’s absolutely disgusting. You have no identity,” she continued her attack. “I can’t stand it. I’m ashamed to be here.”

In response to Natalia’s scathing attack, Joe questioned Natalia’s clear similarities to Cleopatra herself, while fellow judge Melanie Blatt defended Joe by saying that he was “dressed better than [Natalia’s] husband”.

The alleged creator of suits himself, Willy Moon, even weighed in and called it all “a little bit cheap and absurd”.

“It’s like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing. It’s all a little bit creepy,” Moon started his rant. “It feels like you’re going to stitch someone’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience. But, do you.”

After the uncalled for attack, the audience flipped on Kills and Moon and so did the general public. Almost instantly people — and even celebrities like Ed Sheeran, Bastille, Ellie Goulding and Lorde — rallied behind Joe and a 70,000+ signature petition to have the pair fired from the show made its way online. In response, both Kills and Moon were fired.

“While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges,” Mark Weldon, CEO of MediaWorks said. “We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of The X Factor judges, and they will leave the show, effective immediately.”

After Natalia Kills was fired from the show, the singer became public enemy number one. As a result, Natalia Kills changed her name to Teddy Sinclair — combining both her childhood nickname and Willy Moon’s real last name — and started to release music with her husband through the band name Cruel Youth, which is oddly fitting considering cruelty is how this whole thing started.

Following her exit from the show and name change, Natalia released a statement that called the X Factor NZ event “a publicity stunt [that] resulted in a viral media storm”.

“For a brief moment in 2015 I felt like it was the death of me. I was subject to a global witch-hunt [that] I couldn’t defend myself against due to a wide-reaching legal gagging order,” she wrote. “It was truly a regrettable situation for everyone involved.”

Since cancelling herself on live TV, Natalia Kills went on to collaborate with Madonna on Rebel Heart and co-write Rihanna’s ‘Kiss It Better’ under her new name. Some even still feel that Natalia was unjustly vilified by the media over a scripted bit on TV.

However, even five years after the event, Natalia Kills is still feeling the consequences of her words. Unlike most celebrities who’ve been “cancelled” over the last few years, Natalia still gets dragged for her Joe Irvine comments to this day.

Natalia Kills last post to social media was back in October, 2019, where she teased the release of her latest single. Under her tweet, people mocked her by calling her a “Dora The Explorer wannabe”, while others bombarded the replies with quips about the singer ruining her own career.

But while the critique of Natalia Kills actions back in 2015 were warranted at the time, it brings up a bigger question about cancel culture as a whole. In particular, about how cancel culture only really sticks for people of colour.

It’s strange that Shane Dawson can do blackface and use racial slurs on camera, yet people still adore him. In more recent times, even though Tekashi 6ix9ine plead guilty to “using a child in a sexual performance”, he was still able to land himself a number one single this week.

Even in direct reference to what happened on X Factor NZ, not even Willy Moon faced as much backlash as Natalia Kills — an Uruguayan and Jamaican woman — did, despite being equally as involved in the tirade against Joe Irvine. Sadly, this is just another example of how cancel culture disproportionately affects women, and in particular, women of colour.

Michelle Rennex is a senior writer at Junkee. She tweets at @michellerennex.