Nightwish’s Floor Jansen: third singer from band to express Eurovision interest

Since their formation in 1996, Finnish symphonic power metal band Nightwish has had three different female lead vocalists. Now Floor Jansen, their latest lead vocalist from the Netherlands, has expressed possible interest in competing for her home country, following the footsteps of her vocalist predecessors.

2000: Suomen euroviisukarsinta with Tarja Turunen

In 2000, the band competed in Uuden musiikin kilpailu‘s predecessor, Suomen euroviisukarsinta (literally the Finnish Eurovision pre-selection) with the song “Sleepwalker”. Despite the massive public support, their second-to-last place finish with the jury would net them a third place finish, behind Anna Eriksson’s “Oot voimani mun” and to-be representative Nina Åström’s “A Little Bit”, which would go on to finish 18th in the 2000 edition of Eurovision.

“Sleepwalker”, Nightwish. Performed live during Suomen euroviisukarsinta in 2000.

Turunen expressed extreme disapproval of the participation due to her classical studies and simultaneous involvement in the rock project Evangelicum, and two other bandmates at the time had their own reservations about their participation, but they eventually consented. After the national final defeat, they started attracting larger audiences at their live shows as they released their album Wishmaster later that year. The lead songwriter and keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, also stated, “…[T]he song is one of our worst… The rule was that the song could be no longer than three minutes long, and [he] just couldn’t write a good song to fit that limitation.” This suggests that the band would not attempt to audition for Eurovision again.

2010’s: Anette Olzon

After Turunen’s open-letter firing, the band went on a hunt for a new vocalist. They chose Anette Olzon from Sweden, a pop/rock singer in contrast to the classical roots of Tarja. After the band and singer separated in late 2012, Olzon recorded some solo material and collaborated with other artists, in particular Jani Liimatainen (ex-Sonata Arctica, Insomnium, Cain’s Offering). Of her solo releases, two songs, “Vintersjäl” and “Cold Outside”, were considered for Melodifestivalen, the Swedish selection for Eurovision, but ultimately rejected. She released the two songs in early 2016.

Despite this setback to her plans, she is still a Eurovision fan and has recorded covers of songs such as Gabriela Gunčíková’s “I Stand” (Czech Republic 2016) and Oscar Zia’s “Human” (Melodifestivalen 2016 runner-up).

Floor Jansen: 2020?

In an ESCXTRA-translated interview, Floor Jansen, stand-in vocalist from 2012-2013 and full-time vocalist afterwards, had this to say about potential participation:

It’s an honour that people even consider me to be good fit for Eurovision. I never even thought about it before. It was a major happening when I was a child, but I lost touch with it as the years progressed and the contest changed. My sister told me not to say ‘No’ to Eurovision immediately, so I checked out some of the songs. I was really impressed. After giving it a big ‘No’ at first, I now think ‘Why shouldn’t I do it?’. But that’s as far as I’ve got.

Floor Jansen, translated from an interview on AD.nl

Floor Jansen is one of the most well-known Dutch metal frontwomen in the industry, beginning with her time in After Forever, originally founded as a death metal outfit. Since then, she has featured a wide mix of vocals and a large vocal range in many projects, like Arjen “Ayreon” Lucassen’s 01001001 and The Source, as well as the ongoing hard rock project Northward, a collaboration with Pagan’s Mind guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad. A good sampling of her vocals can be found in the following video:

What are the implications for the Netherlands?

This is to music first, always.

Duncan Laurence in his victory speech in Tel Aviv

Before Duncan Laurence won with the song “Arcade”, the Netherlands had not won since 1975, when Teach-In competed with the song “Ding-a-Dong”. Since then, the language rule has come back and been scrapped, and live instrumentals have been scrapped. Dutch metal musicians Arjen “Ayreon” Lucassen, Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation, 2018 Dutch jury chair), and Anneke van Giersbergen (Devin Townsend, VUUR, ex-The Gathering) have reached the current minimum age criteria, and Jansen, Simone Simons (Epica), and Charlotte Wessels (Delain) have been born. The Netherlands sending a metal artist to represent themselves would be a first for the country, whose 2018 outlaw country song “Outlaw In ‘Em” (Waylon) was the closest they have gotten to harder rock and heavy metal. The biggest successes of those genres were in 2006, when fellow Finnish band Lordi won with their song “Hard Rock Hallelujah”, and Turkish groups Mor ve ötesi and maNga (2008 and 2010, respectively) received top 10 placings in their years.

As for Jansen, she has had extensive songwriting experience, having written lyrics for After Forever even before founding guitarist Mark Jansen (no relation) left in 2001 due to creative differences. Beyond that, she co-wrote songs in both After Forever and her old band ReVamp, which she created while Sander Gommans, then lead guitarist for After Forever, was recovering from burnout. Her work was recently featured on Beste Zangers (Best Singers), a show that allows selected artists from various genres to gather and cover other participating artists’ songs week by week.

Emma Heesters’ version of “Strong” as performed on Beste Zangers (2019), original composition and recording by Jansen’s first major band, After Forever. The original version, released on the album Remagine, can be found here; an alternate piano version was also released and can be found here.

If AVOTROS (the Dutch broadcaster) decides to go this route and select Jansen to represent her home country, there may be logistical issues stemming from Nightwish’s upcoming release expected in early 2020. However, depending on the song and inspiration, such a decision on AVOTROS and her part might in fact be a welcome detour for both her and the band, for her as a way to attract a larger non-metal audience, and for the band as the musical vehicle upon which Jansen has recently placed her expressive and versatile vocals.

Sources

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