Lewis Jacobs, NBC
"Clearly, Dia is my favorite, mostly because I've gotten to know her," Blake tells California radio station Go Country 105. "Where she ranks among the four, I do believe she's been the most downloaded artist so far."
The 23-year-old Dia, who is competing against Vicci Martinez, Javier Colon and Beverly McClellan to take home the grand prize, will perform a duet with Blake's new wife, Miranda Lambert, in the show's finale. "[Miranda] loves Dia. If Dia had a fan club already, Miranda would be in it," Blake says. "Miranda knows a real artist and a real writer, and that's what Dia is. She's got a lot of respect for her. Miranda started on 'Nashville Star' that first season, [so] coming from that world she probably has a little extra sympathy and respect for Dia and what she's going through, being thrust in the spotlight and how she's handling it."
While the finalists are competing for a prize package that includes a $100,000 paycheck, the 'Honey Bee' singer says there is an unusual spirit of camaraderie among the four performers. "You would swear they're best friends. Beyond politeness," Blake reports. "It gives me chills to see them together because they're laughing, they're hugging, they cry. It's amazing how much they've grown to love each other ... there's nothing really competitive about it."
Fans of the hit TV show have been anxiously awaiting confirmation that the four celebrity judges, including Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Adam Levine, will all return for the second season. While the reigning CMA Male Vocalist of the Year can't make an official statement, he says his return looks very promising.
"I think it's safe to say that I'll be back," he affirms. "Whenever you're in the middle of contracts and touring and all that, everybody's always afraid to say, 'Don't say it. Don't say for sure.' I'm not saying for sure, but I'm pretty sure we'll all be back, but I think it's the matter of a lawyer somewhere putting a stamp on a piece of paper, saying, 'OK, you can say it now.' But I can't imagine not doing it."
The singer-songwriter has had to juggle plenty of other commitments, including finishing up a new album and touring with Brad Paisley, as well as adjusting to married life, but the end result has been well worth it.
"It's a dream job for me. I get to sing Queen songs with rock stars on national television," he says. "Normally I have to go to a karaoke bar and push some drunk guy out of the way so I can sing the 'Piña Colada Song.' I get to do it on TV. That's the best job ever."
With the show wrapping this week, Blake will have more time to devote to his other job, serving as opening act on Brad's H20 II: Wetter & Wilder tour. It's a role he's enjoying, even if he's having a bit of an identity crisis. "Every time he brings me out on stage, it's never 'Blake Shelton,' it's 'the new Mr. Lambert,'" notes the proud groom. "Trust me, she's my retirement."
Blake will unite with his tourmate tonight (June 28) on the set of 'The Voice,' to perform a duet of 'Don't Drink the Water,' which appears on Brad's latest CD, 'This Is Country Music.' The tour heads to Arizona this weekend, followed by stops in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Keep track of the schedule here.
Blake's new album, 'Red River Blue,' hits shelves July 12.