Blake Shelton has a voice, and he's not afraid to use it

Blake Shelton is back in his coach's roll swivel chair Monday as NBC’s “The Voice” returns for a fourth edition. Credit: Adam Taylor/NBC

* THE VOICE. 8 p.m. Monday, NBC 10.

* REVOLUTION. 10 p.m. Monday, NBC 10.


NBC'S LOOKING to get a bit of its mojo back Monday night, as "The Voice" and "Revolution" return to its lineup.

Coming off a week in which the network - not for the first time - managed to get people talking about "The Tonight Show" for all the wrong reasons, that could be a tall order.

Fortunately, Blake Shelton is very tall. Which also made the country singer easy to spot at an NBC party in January.

Shelton's on his fourth go-round as a coach on "The Voice" - where he and fellow fourth-timer Adam Levine have been joined for this edition by Usher and Shakira - and he's under no illusions about what the exposure has done for his career.

"I think my fan base has doubled and tripled and quadrupled as the seasons have gone on," he told me. And if he's also managed to introduce a few more people to country music in general, "that was my goal all along."

But Shelton's also introduced a lot of people, including his more than 2.7 million Twitter followers, to opinions - including some involving gays, guns and animals - that haven't all been as popular as "The Voice."

"The thing that I'm most proud of is, I've hopefully given the country fan base, and country artists . . . more confidence just to be themselves," he said.

"I'm always going to be myself and say what I'm thinking," Shelton said. "Not to be an a------ or egotistical or anything, but, you know, I like to deer hunt. I don't have a problem talking about it. It's what I do, and if you don't like it - I'm not running for office. I'm just a country singer.

"In country music, we got guilty, a little bit, of trying to be too politically correct, and I think that's a real good way to stop being important as a format. . . . . I just kind of decided somewhere along the way, 'Look, I'm this guy, I was born this guy. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but this is me. This is what I sing about; this is what I do.'

"And I tweet about it and I talk about it in interviews. And there's nothing wrong with it. I'm not breaking a law. I don't care if I hurt somebody's feelings. I wasn't born to make every person on this earth happy."

He may have an itchy Twitter finger, but Shelton at least seems to have maintained perspective on his own celebrity. The CMA male vocalist of the year described himself as a former "B-level country artist" who decided to "rattle the cage" because "I didn't feel like I had anything to lose."

And now that "The Voice" has made him more famous, he's not inclined to complain about the workload involved in doing two cycles of the show a year.

"Honestly, I still find time to go tour as much as I ever did. I'm still doing 40, 50 shows a year. . . . Because that's where my heart is," he said. "The only person that suffers is me" from not having as much time off. "But that'll come, whether I like it or not."

In the meantime, working with "Voice" contestants, "I'm learning more music than ever before," he said. "Different genres, different artists that I never heard of before."

A contestant will talk about performing a song by an artist he's never heard of, and "I'll go research and find out that this is someone who's big and that I've missed it along the way. Hell, yeah, it introduces me to a whole new world that's out there."


You want a 'Revolution'?

A long hiatus can be challenging for any show, especially a heavily serialized one, and "Revolution," which aired just 10 episodes before its Nov. 26 "fall finale," may have to fight to win back all its viewers.

But, at least this time it's armed with more than muskets and swords.

Monday's episode, "The Stand," picks up right where the previous episode left off - remember the helicopter? - but will move "Revolution" in a different direction (and maybe even away from Philadelphia, which has been serving as capital of the post-blackout Monroe Republic).

There are enough flashbacks and explanations to allow viewers who may not have seen every episode (guilty) or even any episodes to keep up, but the best news may be for those who've remained loyal from the beginning: 10 more episodes between now and May 27. And no reruns.


Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray