Tuesday, 2 October 2012

NIGHTWISH: ANNETTE OLZON OUT, FLOOR JANSEN IN (FOR NOW)

Nightwish with now ex-vocalist Annette Olzon
Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a huge fan of Nightwish, and I don't care one bit if people want to mock me for it. Nightwish are an incredible band, and while their latest album, “Imaginaereum” didn't grab me as much as its predecessors, they remain a band which I hold very dear. The news of Annette Olzon's departure from the band (Five years on from the ousting of original vocalist Tarja Turunen) came as something as a shock, so what the hell happened?

The story is all over the internet if you want the full details, but in brief, a few days ago Annette was hospitalized with a selection of horrible health issues. She was unable to play a Nightwish show due to recuperating, but the band went ahead with the gig by calling in Kamelot's two backing singers to fill in. The show was played, with the band and audience taking equal turns to perform, be it full songs with the ladies or as giant karaoke sessions.

Annette wasn't pleased about this, and posted some words to that end on her blog (which has been a great look at a working musician's life for a long time now, incidentally). She played the next show with Nightwish and did her best after recovering from being ill, but then the very next day there came the press release stating Annette and Nightwish had parted company.

...and a replacement (albeit temporary) was already in place.

Floor Jansen, vocalist of ReVamp and formerly of After Forever.

Floor Jansen - the new Nightwish vocalist (for this tour, anyway).
WOW.  This is IMMENSE.

The internet went mad with both pieces of news. There seem to be three ways the fans are taking this: Some love Annette, some are STILL going on about how the band should bring Tarja back, and a huge number (me included) think that Floor should stay on permanently.

First let's deal with Annette and the breakup – Annette never had an easy ride of things as a part of Nightwish, thanks to her voice being a very straightforward (but very good) rock/pop voice and not the classically trained soprano voice of Tarja. Her two albums with the band, “Dark Passion Play” and the recent “Imaginaerum” are both great albums, if not utterly classic, and she really didn't deserve all the hate that people piled on her. The split is a good thing for both sides. For Nightwish, the band can now claw back some ground lost over the past few years (venues have shrunk quite noticeably since the heady days of their “Once” tour), and Annette will be able to move onto other things.

Nightwish circa 2004, with original vocalist Tarja Turunen

Second: Should Nightwish try and bring back Tarja Turunen? No. Never. The band should not get back together with Tarja, as I believe it would be the end of the band altogether. An album and tour would come, but I believe that it would tear them apart. Too much time has passed and too much has happened for both parties now, and that era should be left perfect and beautiful as a part of their collective histories.

Third: Floor Jansen. To be quite frank, getting her in to do the rest of the tour is a BRILLIANT, WONDERFUL and PERFECT idea. Floor has one of the greatest voices in music, not just metal, as well as a huge personality, a great stage presence and boundless charisma. Will she become the permanent new Nightwish singer? I kinda doubt it, but I would absolutely LOVE it to happen.

I've seen Floor play live (with ReVamp, and then duetting with Epica vocalist Simone Simons on the same night!) and she is utterly captivating as a performer. What's more, she's a really sweet person, as I discovered when meeting her that night (see awful phone photo that accompanies this piece). She fits PERFECTLY. There are a few YouTube clips of her first Nightwish show up, and they're stunning (even in low-res) – the band is on fire.

Myself (I'm glad I've lost weight since then!) with Floor Jansen herself
(ReVamp/Epica tour 2011, Nottingham show)
So for the rest of this world tour at least, Nightwish have a vocalist who can perfectly perform Tarja era tracks as well as those from the Annette albums. Where they go next is up to mastermind Tuomas Holopanien.

I for one, as a long-term fan of the band and admirer of Floor's work, would like to see Floor Jansen join Nightwish permanently, as the band would finally be able to prove to the naysayers that the band can prosper without Tarja at the microphone. Long live Nightwish. If Floor stays on as singer, then the world won't know what hit it. Floor Jansen joining Nightwish is literally a dream come true for many fans of this particular genre.

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