Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani Talk 'The Voice' Return

The Voice coaches are ready for season 19 to kick off — and no one’s more excited than Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani!

The lovebirds are reunited on the upcoming season of NBC’s singing competition show, as Stefani reclaims her coach’s chair after newcomer Nick Jonas stepped in for her last season.

“Having Gwen back is very comforting to all the coaches,” Shelton shared from the set of the upcoming season. “We were all able to just go back to the game we already knew. We all know how to play each other at this thing. It felt like the old gang got back together again, and we’re having a blast.”

“I’m so grateful to be here,” Stefani said, noting that this season feels extra special amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s different, definitely different. Everyone has all these rules and we’re all being safe — it’s just actually a little bit more exciting than usual, even though I didn’t think that was possible because it was already super exciting.”

“We’re so excited to have Gwen Stefani back,” fellow coach John Legend agreed. “I know Blake is very excited and very happy to have Gwen back but we all love Gwen. She’s such a kind person, she has such a great spirit and energy and I love having her back.”

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For Stefani and Shelton, the COVID lockdown meant lots of time together away from set. The pair spent most of their time with Gwen’s kids and extended family at Shelton’s ranch on Oklahoma, which Stefani said was “actually really wonderful.”

“We got to be in Oklahoma as a family. We got to do things we never get to do, like try to make sourdough bread, like everybody else in America, and just do so many fun things — garden, tear down trees, plant tons of different things.”

“But also I think after all of that happened, I got quite creative,” she continued. “I’m in the middle of writing new music, which is just a shock to me, because I realized that, in my life, out of every single thing I’ve ever done, writing new music makes me feel the best and makes me feel the most alive. And it always kind of gets in sync to me being on The Voice, which is weird, because I think it’s just really inspiring. Like, it’s really inspiring to be here.”

And Stefani said that pause was a positive for others, nothing she’s heard some of the new music fellow coach Kelly Clarkson has been working on, and “whoever loves Kelly Clarkson like I do, they’re gonna really like what she’s doing right now. It’s very real, it’s very pure. It’s just really good.”

Season 19 will, of course, look a little different at The Voice as they film with strict safety protocols. The blind audition rounds will take place with a “virtual audience” of fans watching from home — which Shelton said created a “new dynamic” for the coaches, as they were able to listen to the hopeful performers without any crowd noise.

“We’re able to hear the artists in a way that we’ve never heard before — and we’re able to hear the insults coming from the other coaches in a way that we’ve never heard them before,” he joked. “They’re really cutting through.”

Gwen Stefani is ‘Over the Moon’ About Her Return to 'The Voice'

Gwen Stefani is ‘Over the Moon’ About Her Return to 'The Voice'

While Shelton teased that even his socially-distanced proximity to Clarkson isn’t “far enough,” and assured fans that “all the coaches came to win this season,” he did offer a rare moment of sincerity as well, admitting that he and his fellow coaches were excited to be a “comforting presence” for fans and viewers in a tumultuous year. 

“I think that being able to sit down and watch a show that’s so inspiring and will bring inspiration to people, it will definitely bring joy,” Stefani agreed. “Music is the heartbeat of human beings, so I feel really blessed to be here and to be a part of that and to be able to connect around America on the TV.”

“Maybe the reason there’s so much talent is that a lot of people are kind of paused and they get to kind of, you know, follow the dream in a way they didn’t get to because maybe they’re working or they were in school,” she added. “I think there’s kind of a different kind of group of people this time because of the opportunity that we are all paused in the world right now.”

And while they can’t offer a hug to the hopeful singers that joint their teams during the audition rounds, the coaches have come up with some innovative solutions. Stefani has a t-shirt cannon loaded with “Team Gwen” shirts, while Clarkson personalized some “Team Kelly” face masks!

“I don’t know if it was Gwen who first pointed it out or John, but they pointed out that we haven’t really been able to listen to live music in person in forever,” Clarkson noted. ‘So it was really cool, the Blinds. I feel like we were having our own private concert every time these people came out. I know it sounds so silly, but I think we take for granted live music, we take for granted feeling it, not just hearing it and being a part of it, that was really really special. It stuck out more this season than it has any other season, because we knew to really appreciate it.”

And of course, it wouldn’t be a new season without a little bit of shade thrown Shelton’s way — the winningest coach in Voice history claimed his first title since season 13 last year with team member Todd Tilghman being crowned the champion.

“Blake Shelton had a long streak of not winning The Voice,” Legend teased of Shelton’s dry spell. “He called himself the King of The Voice for a while, but I couldn’t tell, because he wasn’t winning. Finally, season 18, he reclaimed his throne… However, I think his reign will be short-lived. I know that Team Legend is going to be ready to take the crown back for season 19.”

The Voice season 19 premieres Monday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. PT/ET on NBC. 

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