Blake Shelton is bummed that Gwen Stefani won't be returning for the next season of The Voice -- but he's pretty sure she'll be back someday!
"I get what has to happen," the country star said during a post-CMA Awards press conference on Thursday in Nashville. "We're not seeing the last of Gwen on that show by any means. I wouldn't say we've seen the last of anybody who's ever been on that show. They've said from the beginning that once somebody's a coach on The Voice, they're always a part of the family."
After a one-season return this fall, Stefani will be turning her chair over to Nick Jonas for the upcoming new season. The No Doubt singer recently told a concert crowd that she didn't have any input in the decision, announcing, "If I had a say, Nick Jonas would not be on The Voice, it would be Gwen Stefani."
As for whether or not he has any say in the matter -- after 17 seasons, Shelton is the only original coach remaining on the show from The Voice's first season -- he joked, "I don't know that I have any power with that, but I definitely have a loud voice when it comes to [bringing her back]. I make it known that I don't ever want her to leave."
"But I also know, at the same time, that the show needs to keep reinventing itself and the only way to do that is to change the coaches out every season a little bit -- as long as it's not me," he added with a laugh. "[Gwen] still has to finish up her Vegas residency, so she does have other commitments... We just try to keep it new, but also rotate people's favorites in and out."
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Blake Shelton Brings Gwen Stefani to Tears on ‘The Voice’
In addition to his CMA Awards win for Single of the Year on Wednesday night -- for his song, "God's County" -- Shelton has won The Voice six times so far. But it turns out, he almost wasn't part of the show at all!
"If I'm not mistaken, they wanted Reba [McEntire]," he said of the show's initial season 1 casting. "They knew they wanted a country artist to be a coach on The Voice, to fill that lane."
While McEntire didn't end up signing on to the singing competition, her then-manager, Narvel Blackstock, recommended another of his clients, Shelton, for the gig.
"They knew enough about me that they just rolled the dice," he said of joining the show. "I had never met Adam [Levine], I had obviously never met Christina Aguilera. Somebody had to remind me that Cee-Lo [Green] was the guy who sang with the Muppets at the GRAMMYs… It was magical, the way it all happened."
Now, the show is airing its 17th season while filming the auditions for season 18. "I like these live shows a lot better, for one very selfish reason -- because I don't like to be the one who's eliminating people from the show," Shelton said of the season 17 live rounds, in which fans vote to send the final singers through to the finale. "I literally despise it. I don't want it to be in my hands."
As for working with Jonas in the upcoming season, Shelton has mixed feelings. "When I heard that Nick was coming in, I was excited because I knew he was a pro and he works hard," he said, before laughing, "We've already filmed the blind auditions, so now I'm starting to hate the guy because I'm competing with him."
But the country star said he's been pleased so far with the show's dynamic after the departure of his other OG coach -- and combative frenemy --Levine.
"I was worried, to be honest, when Adam left the show, because all I ever heard since the first season was like, 'Man, we like to see you and Adam go at it,'" he recalled. "I didn't know how people were going to react. And it's not the same, it is a different dynamic, but it's just such a good, fun group and a good feeling when you watch the show."
"Trust me, Kelly [Clarkson] and I, we butt heads every bit as much as Adam and I did. I told her, 'You're doing a great job of filling the Adam a**hole void,'" he added, noting with a grin, "She didn't take that very well."
Last night at the CMA Awards, Shelton joked with ET that it was "unacceptable" that Jonas was taking Stefani's place on the upcoming season of The Voice. See what else he had to say backstage in the video below!
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.