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When The Voice returns to NBC later this year for Season 17, the front line of coaches will be missing Adam Levine for the first time ever. Replacing the Maroon 5 frontman will be former coach and fellow pop star Gwen Stefani, who last appeared on the show in Season 12 in 2017. Though Stefani initially stayed mostly quiet about the somewhat controversial switcheroo, she showed up on The Talk and shared her feelings about taking over the vacant Voice seat.
I haven’t talked about it yet because it was such a shock. I wanted to come back so bad. I mean, the show is so fun. Adam’s actually the first person to reach out to me when they were trying to pitch me the show. He texted me out of nowhere, and I didn’t even really know him. And he was like, 'You gotta do it! It's the greatest show! It's so fun!' To think that he’s not going to be there is bittersweet. And plus, like, being between him and Blake, the amount of laughter, I would have to stop and massage my face, because it would hurt.
Two things were essentially made clear there. One: Gwen Stefani totally enjoys taking a break from her normal career in order to devote some months to The Voice. And two: she probably would have been fine if someone else had backed out of returning for Season 17 instead of Adam Levine, so that she could once more have a front-seat perspective on Levine and Blake Shelton's faux rivalry. (Even though that rivalry is part of what sparked the fan backlash against Levine in the first place.)
For Gwen Stefani, as it's also the case with many viewers out there, not having Adam Levine around will be a bittersweet experience, and one that might take some getting used to. (For instance, it'll be weird to not be able to look slightly to the left to see what new hairstyle and/or sunglasses Levine is wearing that week.) He offered guidance to her as she was first contemplating joining The Voice, so her involvement on the show is understandably tied to his presence.
While speaking with the other women on The Talk, Gwen Stefani more directly addressed how she feels about Levine himself, saying:
I’m happy for Adam, because he’s been doing it 16 seasons. He has his baby. He’s going to be able to go on tour and do music in a different kind of way where they're doing it focused. Because I mean, they're shooting it twice a year, and it's overlapping. . . . It’s exciting for me though.
Adam Levine's exit from The Voice wasn't ever directly stated to have stemmed from scheduling issues the musician had, though it's easy to understand how The Voice's two-cycle-a-year layout would make it virtually impossible for Maroon 5 to do any extensive touring, or any other longterm plans. Of course, Levine could have possibly figured out a way to back out of his Voice duties in a purely amicable and transparent way that didn't involve him arguably acting petulant during both Voice episodes and during NBC's upfronts presentation.
Allegedly, part of Adam Levine's reasons for being so frustrated in the latter weeks of the season stemmed from his distaste for The Voice's rule changes and the cross battles. Bad choices and unlucky voting means Levine's team was completely eliminated weeks ahead of the season finale, causing further frustration on Levine's side. Such frustration was enough that his self-exile was announced just days after the Season 16 finale made Maelyn Jarmon the new champion.
No one had any fears about The Voice's future after it went public that Adam Levine was leaving, since NBC had previously renewed the show for Season 17. According to Gwen Stefani, it didn't take very long for her to get looped into the matter. In her words:
It was really quick. It was literally a text and then my manager called me, and it was like, 'Yes! Let's go!'
Understandably, Stefani is also happy to be going to back to work with her "best friend" Blake Shelton, and she can't wait for all the fun and excitement that are on the way. Will she be able to follow in John Legend and Kelly Clarkson's footsteps to keep Blake Shelton from winning The Voice in the fall?
The Voice Season 17 doesn't yet have a specific premiere date, but it'll be airing on Monday and Tuesday nights this fall on NBC.