As Season 17 ramps up production, Shelton is officially the longest-running coach on the reality singing competition, having started right alongside Levine in 2011.
The show’s host, Carson Daly, announced Levine’s departure in May on the “Today” show, where he also revealed Shelton’s girlfriend and former “The Voice” coach Stefani would replace Levine alongside Shelton, Kelly Clarkson and John Legend.
“Having her there, selfishly for me, made me happy, and I think it kind of saved the show with Adam going away,” Shelton said during a press conference Wednesday in Nashville (via People). “Because there’s no way around it: It sucks not having Adam there. I mean, he’s just a major part of that show.”
Shelton joked that Levine, with whom he had a playful rivalry with on the show, was his favorite person to “kick in the n—s.”
Stefani was last on the show in 2014, which Shelton said helped her and the show transition without Levine in Season 17.
“She’s familiar with it and gets it,” he said, “And that made me feel better because that show is a complicated thing. When you’re a coach on there … and at the same time you’re also supposed to be entertaining the audience at home, it’s kind of a juggling act.”
Shelton previously addressed the situation with Levine and Stefani on the show, admitting that he couldn’t imagine working on “The Voice” without Levine.
“I can’t imagine, honestly, what the show is gonna feel like at first without Adam there,” Shelton shared with ET Online. “I mean, we’re about to start filming the 17th season of the show, and Adam has been my frenemy from day one, you know, down there on the end.”
He continued: “I think we all knew, on the inside of the show, that he was ready to make a move. For a guy like Adam, who is just – he’s the most ADD person I think I’ve met – for him to have even done it as long as he did without wanting to move on to the next thing, is amazing.
“But I know he’s happy with his decision. Doesn’t mean I am, or any of us [are happy], but at least they were able to soften the blow a little bit and bring Gwen [Stefani] back.”