In the new version of the song, which dropped on Nov. 7, Legend and Clarkson, 37, replaced some of the original lyrics, which some have called sexist, with a more modern dialogue. Still, listeners feel divided about the track and some have been vocal about their opinions.
Legend, 40, took a moment to respond to the song’s critics before hitting the stage as part of Sirius XM’s Dial Up the Moment campaign on Tuesday.
“First of all, there’s no side to be on,” he tells PEOPLE of the debate. “It’s just another version of the song. If you don’t wanna listen to it, you don’t have to. No one’s saying you can’t listen to the old version. Those versions all exist. People make new versions of songs all the time and we thought it’d be fun to update the song and make it more current.”
The award-winning singer, who has earned EGOT status after winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, says he wanted to put a twist to the song.
“We wanted a comedic angle to it so I asked Natasha Rothwell from Insecure to be my co-writer on it,” he says. “She came up with so many funny ideas and we used so much of it and made a brand new version, one that’s kind of updated for now. And we had a lot of fun making it.”
While Legend enjoyed making the song, critics like Sharon Osbourne have not enjoyed listening to it. The 67-year-old Talk co-host voiced her disapproval of the remake during a recent episode of her show.
“What would John Legend do if, in 40 years, if somebody wanted to — you know, times change — re-record one of his songs, and there was some group that found it offensive, and somebody just went, ‘Oh, I can change the lyrics on that,’” Osbourne said.
“It’s, to me, like a master painting,” Osbourne continued. “You go and see these beautiful nudes in museums all over the world, they’re spectacular. Would it be right for me to go and draw a bikini top on one of those nudes? It’s still an art form, it’s a piece of art.”
On Tuesday, Legend’s wife Chrissy Teigen defended her husband during an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. As the two discussed the song, Clarkson explained that she and Legend decided to modify it after the original was removed from some radio stations. She also revealed that she still “loves” the original.
In response, Teigen, 33, poked fun at Osbourne’s comments.
“Well then Sharon assumed you guys like burned them all in the backyard or something and that they can never listen to the original ever again,” she said. “If I can’t have my creepy song, it’s not Christmas,” she sarcastically added. “I want date-rapey songs.”
The song has received backlash, but Legend tells PEOPLE he wanted the track to be buzz-worthy when he created it.
“We figured it’d be fun, we figured it’d be funny and we figured it’d be newsworthy. And I think we achieved all three,” he says.