Crowds protesting the government’s mask and vaccine mandates in Wellington, New Zealand, have had to deal with something more unusual than police hassling them. Lawmakers are playing hits by Barry Manilow and Celine Dion, among other songs, on a loop in an attempt to get them to disperse.
Trevor Mallard, the speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, has been blasting Manilow’s greatest hits — as well as the 1990s Los del Rio chart-topper “Macarena” — through the speakers inside Parliament buildings in an attempt to break up the crowds of protestors, who have refused to budge for the past week. COVID-19 vaccine PSAs are also being played.
As the protests continued, other tunes were added to the playlist, including U.K. singer/songwriter James Blunt‘s 2005 smash “You’re Beautiful” and an out-of-tune recorder rendition of Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
The tactic has made headlines around the world, and elicited mixed reactions.
Mallard told the New Zealand website Stuff over the weekend that surrounding residents had been consulted on the plan and were supportive. “And one of them is a Barry Manilow fan,” Mallard added.
So far, the protestors appear to be unbothered: They’ve been dancing along to the “Macarena,” singing along to “You’re Beautiful” and playing their own songs, like Twisted Sister‘s “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
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