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Your lifestyle, your quirk
My favorite band split up earlier in the week.
Maybe “split up” is too strong a phrase; they still have four of five players (six, if you count the pipe player), but their frontwoman is gone, and I’m bummed.
I covered the budding mystery in Pulsify, our sister magazine, but I focused more on the events themselves, and how the band really needs to hire a decent PR person to spin this more in their favor. I was more interested in the rampant speculation on the Web than the actual parting of ways, though I was aware that I was very sad indeed that I would not hear Anette Olzon singing for them again.
A week later, I’ve had some time to process things, and I don’t really know what to think.
I am surprised by how upset I was about it. Granted, I have some family things going on that have me feeling more fragile than usual…like background programs sneakily driving up emotional CPU usage. But still, it’s just a band, right? It’s just music.
Except it’s not.
Nightwish has had two singers: Tarja Turunen and Anette Olzon. I got into the band right after Tarja left; when Anette arrived, bringing a different type of voice and singing style, she took some getting used to. She also faced a shocking amount of backlash from fans…and faced other challenges as well. Long tours, being away from her family, hostile, obsessive fans who issued death threats—the list goes on. I remember wondering if she was cut out for Nightwish; she certainly had a very pretty voice, but she didn’t pack the punch of most power metal singers. It didn’t help that the songs on Dark Passion Play, while generally within her grasp, were not written for her vocal range. Yet she kept at it. The amount of nastiness she had to endure made me root for her all the more.
Underdog story aside, I think part of what drew me to Anette’s voice was that I could actually sing in her style. Not well, mind; I’m a horrific singer overall, but the previous vocalist was a trained classical singer and could hit all manner of notes. Anette was more of a rock singer, and singing along with her in the car…well, it sounded better than when I tried to emulate Tarja. Beyond that, she just seemed human. Tarja had cultivated an “ice queen” persona over her years with Nightwish (I’ve heard she’s actually a very warm person in real life, but onstage with them she was terrifying), but Anette seemed like someone you could just have a cup of coffee with.
She also told one hell of a story with a song. A singer can be technically proficient but leave you cold; when Anette sang, I felt everything she was trying to convey.
They went on a brutal, two-year tour. Rumors of a split abounded in 2008, when things clearly began to go south within the band. They pulled their shit together and went on with things.
Anette started a blog and always had on a smile during a gig. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was becoming an inspiration to me. “Look what Anette’s facing with Nightwish,” I muttered one day as I was trying to find a writing gig. “At least I’m not getting hate mail.”
Things got better for the group. The band knew her range and comfort zone when they recorded their next album, Imaginaerum, and she sounded spectacular.
The album, too, was spectacular. While Dark Passion Play was full of anger and sorrow, Imaginaerum struck me as a celebration of life and everything that comes with it—the good, the bad, and the bittersweet. The album came out when I was in a particularly low point in my life…I’d lost my two biggest clients within weeks of each other, I was on the verge of moving back in with my parents, and my personal life was a mess. But I had some beautiful music to listen to while the boat sank, so I figured it couldn’t be all bad.
Imaginaerum and Anette’s voice got me through the last month of 2011 and the early weeks of 2012. And that is when everything began turning around. Suddenly I had too much work. Then I got promoted. Then I…well, I guess my personal life is still something of a shambles, but you can’t win ’em all.
Nightwish’s Imaginaerum tour went beautifully. Anette was in fine voice, everyone looked and sounded great on the bootleg YouTube videos, and it really seemed like the band had overcome all the troubles that had dogged them during the last album and tour. I couldn’t wait to see them in Anaheim.
Then they released a statement announcing their parting. I had taken the weekend off to see my family, and returned to the online world to see people talking about illness and blog posts and potential in-fighting. Jeez, you miss three days and things explode.
Supposedly it’s mutual. They’ve brought in the very talented Floor Jansen to sing for the rest of the tour, but it’s not the same. Yes, I can appreciate the music for just being music, but I think part of the reason Imaginaerum and Anette’s vocals stood out for me was the story it came with it, and the way Anette told that story.
A story which has suddenly been cut short.
I honestly had no idea I was so sentimental about this. My logical self can’t quite figure out why I’m upset at all. Bands part ways all the time. It sounds like everyone will be happier with this new arrangement. Floor’s a fine singer and will do a fine job. Who cares?
Apparently me. I do think part of it is because I’m a writer myself; I don’t care for ambiguous endings. I want the happy ending, the sad ending, the angry ending…just give me an ending. None of this “in the air” stuff where we’re left to speculate and wonder what went wrong.
I skipped the Anaheim show, though I’m told Floor did brilliantly. No surprise—she’s one of the hardest-working women in metal, and she’s very gifted. But some crucial part of the interpretation is gone.
Ah, well. I have the CDs and my memories of the 2007 show in Santa Ana. I wish everyone luck…and hey, it’s just music.