NEW YORK (AP) — Gwen Stefani is leaving "The Voice" this winter, when Christina Aguilera returns, but she's not done with the NBC show yet.
She said in an interview Friday she'd love to return. Now about halfway through Season 9, Stefani already misses her show family.
"They're all so smart, they're all lovely. They all got my back. I love them," she said.
As for the rest of her life, she's trying to live in the here and now and enjoy a few "priceless surprises," a hashtag she's taken on for a private concert Saturday night for MasterCard cardholders.
The California native and mom of three oozed joy backstage ahead of the exclusive appearance, so what's got Stefani so happy?
"Everything. It's exciting. I'm in New York. Just that alone. ... I mean, I never went anywhere when I was a little girl," she smiled.
And there's also the birth of her third child, Apollo, about 19 months ago, and the rest of this season on "The Voice."
"I can't wait to get back on set and do the lives. It's so fun. It's the funnest thing I think I've ever done, and so inspiring," Stefani said.
She's going through a phase, of sorts.
"I don't have any plans for the future. In fact, my whole thing right now is not thinking about the past or the future and, like, being right here, right this second, because it's so great right now. It's such a great, amazing time," Stefani explained.
So if she were a contestant rather than a judge on "The Voice," who would she pick as a mentor?
"Impossible to answer, and I will not," she laughed. "But I would say, I know that I've worked with Pharrell before and I know what that feels like. I've worked with Adam and I know what that feels like. I've never worked with Blake so I don't know what that would be like, but I do know that me and Blake have a lot of similar tastes in people, in voices, which is a shock."
Stefani's band, No Doubt, last put out an album in 2012, but she's recorded solo, made music with Pharrell and joined Eminem on a rap-rock turn, "Kings Never Die," for the soundtrack of the film "Southpaw." She also has put in some writing and studio time on a new solo album but hasn't announced its timing.
"Kingston (her 9-year-old son) said, 'Mom you better get a hit,' so I'm gonna try to do that for him," she said.
Meantime, she'll continue to juggle family and music and TV, acknowledging that the latter as far as "The Voice" is concerned has become less about finding the next superstar and more about helping out young talent.
"How many Michael Jacksons are there in a lifetime, or in generations? They come along when they come along," Stefani said. "It's just a platform. There's so many talented people but there has to be magic and things, destiny and fate, and God, and all these things have to happen for a superstar to emerge."
Would she survive the grueling competition?
"I can't imagine doing what they do. I couldn't do it," she said. "I mean, the pressure, and then to be having us trying to tell them, 'OK and then you can do this and you can do that,' taking in all that information and trying to make it happen on a live TV show. It's a lot. They do really good."