Trae Patton/NBCAs the second week of The Voice kicks off tonight on NBC, Blake Shelton has his rival clearly in his sights — and her name is Kelly Clarkson.

Even though they’re foes on TV, they’re friends in real life, so Blake admits he’s glad she’s here. In fact, he goes so far as to say that Kelly’s a crucial part of The Voice.

“The show can’t be the show anymore now without Kelly…” Blake observes. “She has definitely become a staple of The Voice. I can’t imagine a season without her now.”

“It’s almost like she… was one of the original coaches…” he continues, “I think because of her work and her involvement with The Voice since early on, it seems like she’s been here forever, anyway. And so she was such a natural fit as a coach.”

With his longtime frenemy Adam Levine missing for the first time in series history, Blake says Kelly’s more crucial than ever. But he warns she shouldn’t get too used to winning. 

“She came in swinging!” Blake says. “If she wins this season, she would’ve won three out of the four times she’s been a coach. That’s getting a little bit too close to my record, to be honest with you. But I love having her here. She brings the competition.”

Blake confesses victory is his number one goal, and the same is true for Kelly. 

John [Legend] and Gwen [Stefani], they’re very focused on being great coaches,” he explains. “Kelly and I, we want to be great coaches, but we desperately want to beat each other. And so I’m glad Kelly’s here to bring that competition.”

Tune in to watch as the competition heats up tonight on The Voice starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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