"You can't deny a great pop song," says the former One Direction star.
"You can't deny sometimes when there is a great song," Payne said on Andy Cohen's radio show Wednesday morning. "At the end of the day, it has to all come back to the music."
The rage over Sheeran's Sunday night win began trending on Twitter almost immediately. Viewers were quick to notice Sheeran was the only male nominee in the category, and many felt the other nominees -- Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga, P!nk and Kesha -- were more deserving. The outrage came amid the #MeToo and Time Up movements sweeping Hollywood.
"I completely understand all of what's going on at the moment, and I think it's great that people are supporting that, but you can't deny a great pop song," Payne insisted.
Ora echoed Payne's sentiments, adding that the "numbers don't lie."
"His album was phenomenal last year," she said. "It was massive. You can't deny it. Don't get me wrong, there were some amazing songs this year, and to be honest, the whole award show was tough. Anybody could have won. All the nominations were fantastic."
"I think Ed should have got more nominations, if you want me to be completely honest," she added.
"Where was 'Despacito' in all of this?" he blurted out during the interview.
"Performing," Ora replied.
"But where was that?" he insisted. "I don't understand. That song was the most streamed in history."