James Blunt

Police in New Zealand have turned to the music of James Blunt in their latest effort to repel protesters who are camped outside of parliament.

The demonstrators, who are angry at COVID-19 vaccine mandates, have been blocking the streets of the country’s capital, Wellington, since Tuesday (February 8).

Tactics used by the local authorities to try and get rid of the protesters have included turning on the water sprinklers on the lawn where they camped. But protesters retaliated by digging trenches and building makeshift drainpipes to re-route the water, according to BBC News.

When the sprinkler tactic proved ineffective, police turned to blasting out Barry Manilow‘s greatest hits, which include ‘Mandy’ and ‘Could It Be Magic’, on a 15-minute loop from one of parliament’s loudspeakers, as well as the ’90s Spanish hit ‘Macarena’ and a number of vaccine messages.

After catching wind of what was happening, Blunt offered his services to New Zealand authorities via Twitter. “Give me a shout if this doesn’t work @NZPolice,” he tweeted, sharing a story on the protests.

A few hours later, it appeared the singer-songwriter’s offer was accepted, with his 2005 chart-topping hit ‘You’re Beautiful’ being played over the loudspeaker.

However, protesters seemed undeterred, responding by singing other songs over Blunt’s track and playing songs such as Twisted Sister‘s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’, all while dancing in the rain.

The demonstrators have been inspired by similar protest in Canada but their list of grievances has expanded to include general dissatisfaction with Jacinda Ardern’s government.

On Thursday (February 10) police said they had arrested 122 people, charging many with trespassing or obstruction.

New Zealand has employed strict coronavirus restrictions to contain the virus for almost two years now. Lockdowns and an international border closure has helped keep infection rates and death toll numbers very low.

But the duration of many restrictions – including a minimum 10-day isolation and a vaccine mandate – has fuelled growing resentment in the community.

Meanwhile, last month, Blunt threatened to release new music on Spotify in protest against Joe Rogan’s podcast, which is an exclusive on the platform.

It came after Neil Young had his music removed from Spotify after writing an open letter that said the Joe Rogan Experience was “spreading false information about vaccines”.

“If Spotify doesn’t immediately remove Joe Rogan, I will release new music onto the platform,” Blunt wrote on Twitter before ending with a hashtag that read “You were beautiful.”

The post James Blunt’s music deployed in New Zealand to repel COVID protesters appeared first on NME.


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