Two The X Factor judges, Natalia Kills and Willy Moon, were let go from the New Zealand show after offering some harsh words to a contestant on the show Sunday night.
After contestant Joe Irvine performed on the show, Kills—a British singer—called him a doppelganger of Moon, her husband and fellow judge. “As an artist who respects creative integerity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband, from the hair to the suit,” she said. “Do you not have any value or respect for originality? You’re a laughingstock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting.”
Moon piggybacked on Kills’ comments: “To me, it just feels a little bit cheap and absurd.”
Following the airing of the episode, Stevi-Rae Ofanoa created a Change.org petition urging X Factor to take Kills off the show. “She is rude and disrespectful to people in Aotearoa,” Ofanoa wrote, “and has no heart for the people within the contestants!!!!” The petition, now closed, received 77,528 supporters.
MediaWorks (the broadcaster that airs X Factor) chief executive Mark Weldon announced the two’s departure from the show Monday in a statement to New Zealand’s The Hits. “Contestants put their all into this competition and they should expect to receive feedback and criticism that is professional and constructive,” he said. “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.”
Though Irvine had to endure some rough criticisms, he received comfort in the form of cupcakes from Lorde—yes, the Grammy-winning artist. He posted two photos Monday, one of a box of cupcakes and the other of a handwritten letter from Lorde that included some touching advice: “I think you’re doing an awesome job on the show so far,” she wrote. “I wanted to say that no matter how many people make fun of me for how I dress, move & act, I’m being me—and that’s important.”