Most viewers probably didn't even catch it when Adam Levine's voice piped up at the end of "The Voice" elimination show on Tuesday night to declare, "I hate this country." After all, it was a throwaway line that arrived (off camera) at a pretty tense moment.
While one of the "Voice" coach's team members, Amber Carrington, had just been snatched from the brink of being sent home by voters, the fates of his other two talented singers, Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons, still hung in the balance.
With only one other singer, Team Blake Shelton's Holly Tucker, also in danger, the Maroon 5 front-man knew America had denied at least one – and as he soon learned, both – of his endangered singers the chance to continue in the competition. Levine is a competitive guy, dedicated to his team members and given to the occasional instance of ill-tempered hyperbole as well as the more-than-occasional intemperate comment launched in the direction his best coach frenemy, Shelton, whose country singing team would all end up safe.
Regular watchers of the show, if they heard it, may not have been terribly surprised by Levine's offhanded comment. Who knew it was going to blow up the way it did?
The Twittersphere called Levine names unprintable in this paper. Some called for him to be fired. And news outlets tittered and clucked over the brouhaha, adding oxygen to its flames.
Within hours, Levine had taken to his Twitter feed to post the definitions for the words "joke," "humorless," "lighthearted" and "misunderstand." And by midday Wednesday he'd offered an explanation:
"I obviously love my country very much and my comments last night were made purely out of frustration," he said in a widely picked-up statement. "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."
Levine's explanation was not an apology. Nor should it be. After all, isn't one of the things we hold dearest about "this country" – the one that you and I and the Twittersphere and Levine love very much – that it allows us the freedom to say muddleheaded things that don't really hurt anyone in the heat of the moment without fear of reprisal?
Surely that's something we can all agree on.