The Voice returns for its seventeenth season tonight on NBC.  For the first time in show history, Blake Shelton will judge without his longtime frenemy and frequent foil, Adam Levine. Taking his place, however, is Blake’s girlfriend — Gwen Stefani

Fellow judge Kelly Clarkson says Blake is definitely “nicer” with Gwen around and has even alleged that the coach with the most wins in Voice history may be less competitive this season. 

Clarkson might be onto something considering Blake certainly had nothing but compliments for the judge taking Levine’s chair.

“This new season of The Voice is one that I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” he says, “because Gwen Stefani is back on the coaching panel. And, besides the obvious reasons, I’m excited about that.”

“It’s also because I think she brings a dynamic to the show as a coach that [no one else can],” Blake continues. “She’s the only person that can fill that lane, of…rock, pop, ska, reggae. I mean she covers a world of music that really no other coach has been capable of really covering before.”

Blake says the contestants are eager to benefit from Gwen’s expertise. 

“It’s fun to see artists who audition for the show realize they have a chance to actually work with somebody that may have a different and maybe better understanding of what it is that they do,” he adds. “And to see the opportunity to work with truly an icon like Gwen is exciting. It’s exciting for all of us just to have her here.”

You can see Blake, Gwen, Kelly and fellow judge John Legend, when The Voice premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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