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Kerfuffle Politics: The Statement Adam Levine Shouldn't Need To Make

Adam Levine made a very unnecessary statement after Tuesday night's <em>The Voice</em>.
Trae Patton
Adam Levine made a very unnecessary statement after Tuesday night's The Voice.

Tuesday night on The Voice, Adam Levine — who's the lead singer of Maroon 5 when he's not judging reality television — had two of the singers on his team eliminated. To understand this, just know that each of the four judge-coaches (Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton) starts out with a team of singers they're mentoring, and as they go through the competition, the coaches get pretty attached to the folks on their team and try to help them win. If one of your singers wins, you're sort of the "winning" coach for that season.

At the end, there were three singers left — Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill, both from Levine's team, and Holly Tucker, from Blake Shelton's team. Two of the three would get the boot. Tucker was the one "saved" by audience voting, meaning Levine's two singers were eliminated. Hill, in particular, has to have been a particularly tough blow — she's very talented and was widely seen as a strong contender for the victory.

But as he waited for the final results, with two of his good singers imperiled, Levine muttered, "I hate this country." And because apparently we don't have enough other things to worry about, this became a kerfuffle.

It's perfectly, totally, painfully obvious that Adam Levine was saying one of two things: (1) He was making a lighthearted statement that he was mad at the voters for potentially getting rid of his singers. Sort of, "Darn you, America." (2) He was making a slightly more serious statement that America, as a voting population, often shows terrible taste in singers. And, perhaps, though we're now getting into a bit of light mind-reading, also has a way of unexpectedly shortchanging women of color (like Hill) (Elton John famously said the same thing about American Idol years ago when Jennifer Hudson, a person of some talent of whom you may have heard, finished seventh behind several people you've never heard of unless you are a die-hard Idol person).

If what he was saying was the first one, who cares? If what he was saying was the second one, good for him. He's not talking about "this country" as a country; he's talking about "this country" as the people who vote on The Voice. Was there really any genuine doubt over that, or was it just the kind of thing that opened the door to a lot of nonsense and that door was pushed open out of boredom?

Nevertheless, kerfuffling ensued. Entertainment Weekly pronounced it "ill-considered" and a "blunder." It labeled his efforts to explain he wasn't serious "defensive," and said he made those efforts "rather than apologize," implying clearly that an apology was called for. The New York Daily News called his comment "unpatriotic."

And today, Levine issued a statement. As reported by EW, he said this:

I obviously love my country very much and my comments last night were made purely out of frustration. Being a part of The Voice, I am passionately invested in my team and want to see my artists succeed. Last night's elimination of Judith and Sarah was confusing and downright emotional for me and my comments were made based on my personal dissatisfaction with the results. I am very connected to my artists and know they have long careers ahead, regardless of their outcome on the show.

Note that this is not an apology, which is good to see, because this would have been an absolutely bizarre thing to apologize for. His meaning was clear, he was in the right if he meant anything at all, and if you're going to put human beings on television live and ask them to act like human beings, you will occasionally have to place their words in some kind of context so that you're not forcing apologies out of people for whom an apology is not necessary.

This is just ... not a thing. Adam Levine muttered in frustration, what he meant was perfectly clear, and it's not even something that required a statement. ("I obviously love my country very much" is often the kind of statement that unfortunately winds up being made by people who have done nothing to imply otherwise.)

Let's stop having dust-ups over this kind of thing. Let's stop demanding apologies every time ten people complain on Twitter, because you can get people to complain on Twitter by putting the wrong boots on Shakira. It doesn't actually mean anybody cares, and pretending it does flatters nobody.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.