Blake Shelton says he didn't respond to the controversy surrounding his song "Minimum Wage" earlier this month because it didn't deserve a response. The love song became his new radio single on Friday (Jan. 15), but he first played it on NBC on New Year's Eve.

Critics on social media said "Minimum Wage" was tone deaf because Shelton is a millionaire singing about minimum wage at a time when so many people are struggling to pay rent. Talking to CMT, Shelton defended himself and his song for the first time, saying those critics are hearing what they want to hear.

"With "Minimum Wage," at first I thought, 'Wow, I guess I just, I’ve missed something here,'" Shelton says. "And the more I read into this, I realized this was really not real. Whatever this backlash is is just four or five people that probably don’t know anything about country music. They clearly hadn’t heard the song or read the lyrics."

WATCH: 5 Burning Questions About Blake Shelton's "Minimum Wage"

Nicolle Galyon, Corey Crowder and Jesse Frasure wrote "Minimum Wage." The lyrics describe how a woman's love can lift a man up and make him feel like he's a millionaire when, in fact, he's quite broke. Ronnie Dunn was among the stars who came to Shelton's defense immediately after the controversy erupted on Twitter, saying he wished he'd written the song himself.

"I have to say, if we have to start thinking like this, then I guess that’ll be where I have to bow out," Shelton continues. "Because that’s one of the longest-standing traditions in country music is lyrics about love. And if you’ve got love, then that’s all that matters. There won’t be much left to play or write about on country radio if this is something that we have to think twice about."

Shelton says he saw the uproar and quickly decided it didn't merit a response from him on Twitter, calling the backlash "ridiculous." Indeed, the outrage quickly cooled as January began, but he's answering questions about the song and his intent as he does a Nashville and country music radio tour this month.

It's not clear if "Minimum Wage" is going to be a part of any sort of album or EP in 2021. Shelton previously stated that he's done making full-length records.

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