Trae Patton/NBCAs the only coach who’s been on every season of The VoiceBlake Shelton says his job has never been harder. And it’s all because the contestants are so good.

“The talent for season 17 is — I sound like a broken record when I say this — but it’s incredible,” he explains. “I think the thing that really shocks me the most about it is, everybody’s pretty even in their talent, too.”

“And as you see this season,” he continues, “you’ll see in the battle rounds and then in the knockout rounds — that us coaches, we’ve never had a harder time trying to figure out who to keep and who to let go, because these artists are all so equally matched with their talent that it’s actually, it’s amazing.”

Blake’s also the winningest coach in the show’s history as well, and he’s plenty protective of his title. That puts him squarely at odds with last season’s winning coach, John Legend.

“I’m really glad that John came back for a second season, because it’s gonna give me a chance to beat him,” Blake says. “He got a little bit too lucky his first time around.”

“I really like working with him, too,” he adds. “He’s really a kind of a quiet guy, and so that’s what makes him sneaky as a coach.”

Tune in to watch Blake challenge John, Kelly Clarkson, and Gwen Stefani tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.  

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