Christina Aguilera said a season away from "The Voice" was the break that she needed to get reinvigorated — for herself, the show and the contestants.
Aguilera and CeeLo took time off from the show last season, and were replaced by Usher and Shakira. But they're back in their signature red chairs on Monday night when the hit talent competition premieres on NBC.
Speaking to a small group of reporters last week at the tony Soho House, Aguilera said the show, now in its fifth season, was taking a bit of a toll on her — coupled with her demanding life outside of it — including being a mother to 5-year-old son Max.
"As artists we need to feel like we're appreciated and we're understood and we're given the breathing room, because we're constantly in front of the camera giving, giving, giving, giving. And then I'm a mother on top of that, and it's giving, giving, giving at home. And it's like, when do I get something back?" she said, eliciting laughter. "You know, and I'm giving, giving to my team. And it's just like, you know, I just — you just, you know, need to take a moment."
Aguilera's commitment to finding that elusive balance of life and career is something she's teaching this year's crop of singing hopefuls.
"It's learning how to better care and protect and nurture yourself," she said. "I'm giving these kids that coaching advice on my team this year and I'm trying to get them to step, sometimes away from, sorry, the competition of it and just live and breathe into music and remember why you're up there on that stage."
Still, she's interested in the winning part of it. She hasn't had a trophy to show in her three years of coaching and is trying to change that this year. Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine has won once, while country singer Blake Shelton has held the title three years running.
Aguilera is taking a page from Levine and Shelton's book and perfecting her hard sell in the hope of nabbing this year's top contestants for her team.
"Adam's like deliciously competitive," she said. "You just see his, you know, the blood boiling because he's the best sales pitch. I mean, he's a genius sales pitch guy. ... He'll sell a used car to your grandma."
Audiences may revel in seeing her and Levine go head to head, but Aguilera insists it's all friendly competition.
"That's what was so cool about coming back this season is because there's a comfort level that we've never had before," the 32-year-old said. "That it's just like we know each other so well. We know what's going to get each other ticking or riled up, emotional. And it's cool."