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Adam Levine thanks his critics following much-maligned halftime performance

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine performs during the

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine performs during the Super Bowl halftime show at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday. Credit: EPA / Erik S. Lesser

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine responded late Sunday to wide criticism of his band's Super Bowl halftime show performance.

"When we accepted the responsibility to perform at the SBHTS, I took out my pen and just wrote," Levine, 39, posted on Instagram, with the same message on the Maroon 5 page. "Some of the words that came to me in that moment eventually made their way onto the incredible lanterns that flew high and low tonight.

"We thank the universe for this historic opportunity to play on the world's biggest stage," he continued. "We thank our fans for making our dreams possible. And we thank our critics for always pushing us to do better." He concluded the missive, "One Love," followed by a heart emoji, and added, "And the list of words is..."

Below was a stack of 35 outwardly random verbs beginning with "Forgive Laugh Cry" and ending with more including "Stand" and "Kneel" — a seeming reference to the ongoing controversy over some NFL players at some games, most notably former quarterback Colin Kaepernick, taking a knee or sitting during the national anthem to protest police shootings of unarmed African-American men and racial injustice.

Professional critics had homed in on the band's musical performance. To cite two examples: "Boring … with all the pomp and circumstance of a slowly deflating football," per Entertainment Weekly, and "safe and cloying," said New York magazine's Vulture website.

Many social-media commenters agreed. Others accused the sports and broadcast industries and government regulators of a double standard in allowing a shirtless Levine while castigating Janet Jackson's briefly exposed breast during a wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl.

"Why is it okay to see Adam Levine's boobs and not Janet Jackson's?" tweeted comedian Aisha Tyler, jokingly adding, "Asking for a friend." ESPN host Katie Nolan wrote, "Super Bowl halftime nipple rules feel inconsistent," while comedian Maz Jobrani ("Superior Donuts") cracked, "Janet Jackson showed a nipple and the country went nuts. She had to move to Bahrain for 10 years. #AdamLevine just went full on shirtless. Guess he's gonna have to move to Riyadh," the capital of Saudi Arabia.

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