It is common for bands to have lineup changes. For some bands it is more common than others. Even though the Rolling Stones have always featured the triumvirate of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts they’ve had several guitarists and a couple of bass players. U2 is an exception, as they still feature the original lineup since forming at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf, Dublin in their teens way back in 1976. What has always been difficult for a band is when the lead singer changes. The obvious success story here would be AC/DC who have had monumental success with Bon Scott’s replacement, Brian Johnson. Others have not been so successful, just look at INXS for example. One of my favourite bands of the last decade or so has been Finnish band Nightwish. The story of their lead singer role is an interesting one.
The band was formed in Finland in 1996 by lead songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen and original lead singer Tarja Turunen. The band released 5 studio albums, an EP and 2 live albums with Tarja on vocals. Some fans believe Nightwish would not have achieved what they have without her vocals providing such a solid foundation for the band. She was opera-trained and has a unique vocal style. She was sacked from the band after the recording of their concert in Helsinki on 21 October 2005. This concert was released as the End Of An Era DVD. Her departure was somewhat acrimonious as she was handed an open letter from the band after the gig which was then published on the official Nightwish webpage. She responded with her own open letter on her own website. She has since had a very successful solo career.
After her departure Tarja was replaced by Swedish singer Anette Olzon. Anette was selected from over 2,000 applicants and officially replaced Tarja in early 2007. She had previously been the lead vocalist with the band Alyson Avenue with whom she recorded two studio albums, Presence Of Mind (2000) and Omega (2002). It was a live DVD of her performance with the band that helped persuade the Nightwish members to select her for the lead singer role. Anette recorded two studio albums and one live album with Nightwish. She was sacked from the band under her own acrimonious circumstances in October 2012. She released her debut studio album in March 2014 with Shine.
In October 2013 Nightwish announced Dutch singer Floor Jansen as Anette’s replacement. Floor had previously worked as lead singer with the bands After Forever and ReVamp and had replaced Anette during the Nightwish Imaginaerum Tour before becoming her permanent replacement. Like Tarja she is also an opera-trained vocalist. Her first Nightwish release was the live album, Showtime, Storytime , in late 2013. Her first studio album with Nightwish is due to be released in March 2015 and I am looking forward to it immensely. Not just because I am intrigued on how she will sit with the band on original material but also because the album, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, is based on the works of Charles Darwin and features evolutionary biologist and author Richard Dawkins. Roll on March!