I Love Blake Shelton As Much As The Next Person, But I Feel So Hard For The Voice Mentors Having To Deal With All The Questions This Season

 Blake Shelton makes his final walk to The Voice stage on the Season 23 finale.
Blake Shelton makes his final walk to The Voice stage on the Season 23 finale.

In case you somehow haven’t heard, Blake Shelton will not be present when The Voice premieres September 25 on NBC for its 24th season. The cowboy gave his last yee-haw on the Season 23 finale earlier this year, becoming the final member of the OG coaching panel to exit the show. Twelve years is a long time, and as a fan from the beginning, I’m just as curious as anybody about how The Voice will go on without Shelton, but I’m starting to feel bad for the coaches who are still around, because it seems like the majority of the conversation remains centered around the country star.

All you have to do is take one look at the Season 24 coaches to see that Blake Shelton’s presence will still be felt on the competition. His wife, Gwen Stefani, is back on the show, as well as Niall Horan, who Shelton practically adopted as his son last season. Reba McEntire was tapped to fill the role of resident country music icon — after serving as Shelton’s Season 1 advisor and Mega Mentor on his final go-round — and longtime coach John Legend is also back after a short hiatus.

With this lineup, it seems impossible that Blake Shelton’s name wouldn’t come up in conversation, but I hope for their sake it doesn’t continue to be the sole focus. In the days leading up to Season 24’s premiere, The Voice coaches were asked what it’s like to not have the cowboy around, and Niall Horan told ET:

Of course I miss Blake. I'm glad I was there for his last season. I got to learn off him and have a bit of a laugh while doing it.

Blake Shelton’s bond with the former One Direction member was one of the highlights of the “No Body” singer’s final season, which celebrated every milestone moment he experienced, from his last chair turn to his last Steal. Carson Daly kept the audience well-informed, even throwing out obscure facts like the number of times over 23 seasons that Shelton had pushed his button and how often the country singer didn’t know the songs being sung by the contestants. I’m surprised we didn’t learn his final lunch order!

While everybody certainly misses Blake Shelton — with Carson Daly perhaps having the roughest time — Gwen Stefani had a slightly different perspective when asked about it on TODAY. She said:

It's really different being on the show without him. I miss him so bad on the show. But at the same time, it hasn't been as hard as I thought it was going to be because I think he was just so ready to have a break.

As his wife, Gwen Stefani understands just how important it was that Blake Shelton stepped away from The Voice to make time for his music, his farm and his family.

I love the cowboy as much as anybody, and yes, it’s hard to get used to not having Shelton around. But Reba McEntire ain’t too shabby as a replacement, and for the sake of her, John Legend, Niall Horan and even Gwen Stefani, I hope they stop getting asked about the former coach once the season starts.

That premiere is coming quick, with Season 24’s Blind Auditions kicking off at 8 p.m. ET Monday and Tuesday, September 25-26, on NBC. Be sure to check out what other shows are starting soon with our 2023 TV schedule.