Blake Shelton Calls Kelly Clarkson the New Adam Levine, Says It's 'Hard' to Get Mad at Ariana Grande

"She will look at you with a smile and be sticking the knife straight in your back," he tells PEOPLE of Grande

The Voice crowned its 21st champion, Girl Named Tom, Tuesday night after coaches Blake Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, and John Legend had contestants battle it out one last time, while Ariana Grande's remaining team members were eliminated last week.

Throughout the season, there was rivalry among the coaches, too.

Before, Shelton, 45, had a well-documented bristly bromance with former coach Adam Levine during the first 16 seasons. But when Levine left "The Voice," Shelton says Clarkson slid into Levine's role as the disruptor on set. Shelton, even now, is still trying to figure Grande out.

"I have not been able to really pin Ariana down yet as what kind of rival she is," Shelton tells PEOPLE. "It's really hard to get mad at Ariana enough to really go for her throat because she's the sweetest kid that you'll ever meet."

He says Grande doesn't have the same restraint.

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"She will look at you with a smile and be sticking the knife straight in your back," he says. "She's done it to me a hundred times already. And it's like, 'Okay. Now I see how it is.' And then she wins you back over, and you're not mad at her anymore."

Shelton admits there used to be things about working on "The Voice" that upset him, too. But a decade after the show launched, he says he's "been able to kind of settle in."

"We've gotten so good at making that show," he explains. "They've been able to really work hard at making the parts that I don't like about being on television a lot better."

The "Come Back as a Country Boy" singer says he's gotten more selective about the press that he does, so his time is well spent.

"That's really helped," he says. "I mean, enough is enough. I'm sick of myself at this point. How many times am I going to talk about my strategy? So they've been good at picking the things that really can move the dial and concentrating on that stuff."

Shelton has also found ways to spend more time coaching his singers.

"It's like, 'Hey, let me get in here and rehearse and work with these kids and let's dial back some of the goofy stuff,'" he says. "We still do that stuff. They still do it with Kelly, and Kelly hasn't learned to say 'no' to anything yet. So, she gets to do a lot of legwork on the goofy things we do on that show."

This season, Shelton's extra team building paid off. And even if he didn't win, at least he had two singers — Wendy Moten and Paris Winningham — in the finale.

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