Blake Shelton is still “shocked” by the exit of longtime pal and former The Voice coach Adam Levine’s exit from the reality competition singing show after eight years seated side-by-side as coaches.
Shelton, who coached contestants alongside Levine for 16 seasons on the NBC series, told Entertainment Tonight that he is still feeling the aftereffects of Levine not seated on the panel of four judges, which now include himself, his longtime girlfriend Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, and John Legend.
“Literally, you know, with Adam being gone, I’m not gonna lie, that was scary. It’s weird,” Shelton confessed as the show taped episodes for its upcoming Season 17. “It’s literally shocking to not have him here.”
The two men, who had a fun bromance throughout the series, exchanged barbs with one another regarding their comments to contestants or the clothes they were wearing for any particular episode. Now, they will have to find other ways to express their admiration for one another.
This leaves Shelton as the only original coach on the series, which debuted in the Spring of 2011 with Levine, CeeLo Green, and Christina Aguilera as coaches. The contestants are vying for a recording contract and the chance to work with some of the best music producers in the recording business.
Shelton told ET that although he is thrilled that he will be able to work alongside Stefani once again (the two met when the former No Doubt singer first appeared on the show in 2014), he is still going to treat his love as a competitor throughout the season.
“You know, she wants to win and I want to win and that’s what they pay us to do on this show is to try to win the show,” said Shelton to ET. “It’s harder for [Gwen]. She’s not, she’s not competitive. She’ll be the first to tell you right up until it gets competitive and then all of a sudden she is.”
Also joining the show as battle advisers to the competitors and to assist the judges are the following music professionals: will.i.am will be seated alongside Stefani to help her coach her contestants; Darius Rucker will assist Shelton; Normani will work alongside Kelly Clarkson; and Usher will assist John Legend.
Fans are hopeful that the tweaks the show set in place to freshen it up for Season 16 will remain in place for the current season, including the Live Cross Battle performances, where judges each select one artist from their team to compete against an artist from an opposing team.
The Voice will debut its 17th season on Monday and Tuesday, September 23 and 24 beginning at 8 p.m. on NBC.