Levine shocked fans when he announced in May 2019 that he would be leaving the popular singing show after serving as a coach for 16 seasons. He turned to Instagram in the days following his announcement, sharing a heartfelt reflection on the eight years he spent as a coach, calling Shelton his “brother for life.” “Our friendship is and always will be one for the books. Whatever this whole surreal experience was, I’m just happy I got to experience it with you,” he writes.
Alongside the talented contestants, a staple of the show has been the playful banter that blossomed into a friendship between the country star and Maroon 5 singer. Speaking with the Nashville media while celebrating his 26th No. 1 hit “God’s Country,” Shelton admits it’s been strange not having his longtime friend three chairs down from him as they shoot the new season of The Voice. “I gotta say that it worries me not having Adam there because he’s just been there from the beginning,” Shelton says. “It’s just odd.”
The “Ol’ Red” singer acknowledges his girlfriend and fellow coach Gwen Stefani as helping him adjust to the new arrangement. The couple met when Stefani made her debut as a coach during season 7 of The Voice in 2014, making their relationship public in 2015. Season 17 will mark Stefani’s fourth time as a coach, with Shelton noting the experience and sense of familiarity she brings to the set as an important asset to the show. “The one thing that makes it better and okay is that they brought Gwen in. It’s not just because Gwen and I’s relationship, it’s because she’s a veteran of that show also,” he praises. “She’s familiar with it and gets it, and that made me feel better.”
Describing the show as a “juggling act” between helping the contestants grow as artists while still delivering an entertaining show to the millions of viewers watching at home, Shelton cites Stefani as a saving grace for the show in the wake of his friend’s departure. “Having her there, selfishly for me, made me happy. I think it kind of saved the show with Adam going away because there’s no way around it, it sucks not having Adam there. He’s just a major part of that show,” Shelton reflects, before adding a trademark dig, “and my favorite person to kick in the nuts.”
Season 17 of The Voice returns on Sept. 23, with Shelton, Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend filling the coaches chairs. The Voice airs at 8PM ET Mondays and Tuesdays on NBC.