Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

An ill-considered remark by Adam Levine has the The Voice coach facing criticism from patriotic fans.

During Tuesday night’s live telecast (video below), Levine was overheard saying “I hate this country” under his breath as viewers voted off two of his contestants — Judith Hill and Sarah Simmons — while electing to rescue country singer Amber Carrington.

Levine’s hot-mike blunder sparked a Twitter backlash against the singer, with some calling for him to be fired from the show. Others were less heated (“I hate Maroon 5 just as much as Adam Levine hates America,” one wrote). And still others defended the singer (“It’s just an expression,” one fan tweeted) or joked it off (“He meant [I hate] country music”).

Rather than apologize, Levine posted a series of defensive tweets (below) that attempted to make it clear that he was joking and didn’t literally mean he hated the United States. NBC had no immediate comment.