Our top 10 Nightwish songs introduce us to a Finnish band known for its outstanding symphonic metal hits. Vocalist Tuomas Holopainen (serving as a keyboardist then), former vocalist Tarja Turunen and guitarist Vuorinen Emppu joined hands in 1996 to form Nightwish. The band filled the remaining slots after the release of the 1997 debut album Angels Fall First. While the band’s debut album might have been fairly successful in Finland, Nightwish had to wait until the release of the 1998 album Oceanborn to achieve critical acclaim. Nightwish would have the floodgates of success open after releasing the 2004 studio album, Once, which sold more than a million copies in the US. However, the album’s success did not come easily, having the band spend more than two hundred and fifty thousand euros for the production of Once.
Nightwish broke Finland’s record for the most expensive recording in the nation’s history, a record they would break again later with Dark Passion Play. The album’s production cost was justified by the quality of the songs from the album, having them gain a positive reception from both fans and critics. Nightwish went on a world tour to even help their music gain a cult following. However, Turunen was dismissed from the band with its members believing that her husband and commercial interests had altered her attitude towards the band. Turunen protested these claims.
The band picked Anette Olzon (associated with Alyson Avenue and The Dark Element) to fill Turunen’s position. Sadly, the band lost Olzon after they got into a conflict that led to division. Floor Jansen would take on the lead vocalist role despite Olzon feeling like they were worlds apart in vocals styles. Holopainen revealed in an interview that Nightwish emerged even stronger with Jansen. Our top 10 Nightwish songs bring out the best of this symphonic metal band famed for its female operatic vocals.
# 10 – Sleeping Sun
Opening up our top 10 Nightwish songs is the ballad “Sleeping Sun,” released as a maxi-single only to be released on the band’s 1998 Oceanborn. There was no better time to release the song than on August 2, 1999, to coincide with the total solar eclipse that was experienced nine days later. The song brings the best of songwriting skills by keyboardist and lyricist Tuomas Holopainen. “Sleeping Sun” was covered by several artists/ bands, including Iris, ApoVelation, and Maria Lund.
# 9 – Over the Hills and Far Away
“Over the Hills and Far Away” is a cover by Nightwish for Gary Moore’s 1987 release. The song’s lyrics allude to a guy who is wrongfully accused of armed robbery. However, the guy fails to snitch on his alibi since it is his best buddy’s wife with whom he had an affair. The woman seems quite in love with the guy sending him letters filled with love, swearing that he will return one day and she will set herself in his arms. Nightwish’s cover version peaked at number one in the band’s native land.
# 8 – Ghost Love Score
If you are a big fan of old progressive rock songs, “Ghost Love Score” might even rank higher in your top 10 Nightwish songs list. Featured on the band’s 2004 record-breaking album Once, “Ghost Love Score” is an outstanding ten-minute song composed by the band members. You can’t help but love the different parts of the song that offer a wavering atmosphere in support of the song’s narrative. Jethro Tull inspired the band in releasing this progressive rock song. However, the band also has had its music influenced by the love for Yes and Genesis.
# 7 – The Islander
“The Islander” is a prodigious song from the band’s album Dark Passion Play. While the band might be known for its symphonic metal influence, this song is highly influenced by metal. The song is fully acoustic only for some drums and keyboard effects. Marko Hietala surprised many with his sublime vocals, with Olzon and Tuomas offering backing vocals for the song. Troy Donockley was invited as a guest musician in the song, adding his multiple instruments playing skills to it.
# 6 – While Your Lips Are Still Red
Number six on our top 10 Nightwish songs is the hit “While Your Lips Are Still Red.” The song is an original composition by Marko and Tuomas used for the film The Matriarch. While the song is not officially a Nightwish song, Tuomas intended not to release any solo music and had the song released under the band. The song was included in the single “Amaranth” before being released on the band’s 2009 EP Made in Hong Kong (And Various Other Places).
# 5 – Wish I Had an Angel
“Wish I Had an Angel” brings the best of the vocals from Tarja Turunen and Marko Hietala. The song was penned by Tuomas Holopainen for the band’s album Once. “Wish I Had an Angel” was quite popular, having it used on the soundtrack of the film Alone in the Dark. The song was the band’s highest-charting release in the UK, peaking at number sixty on the UK Singles Chart.
# 4 – Nemo
“Nemo” is the best release from the band’s album Once. The song title is a Latin word that translates to “Unknown” or “Nobody.” “Nemo” has its lyrics alluding to feeling misunderstood and lacking an identity in a world that feels empty. Tuomas penned the lyrics to this song, pointing towards the endless struggle to find and understand oneself.
# 3 – Élan
Featured on the band’s album Endless Forms Most Beautiful, “Élan” is an original song by the band penned by Tuomas. The song’s lyrics allude to the meaning of life, which everyone has their perception. Songwriter and keyboardist Tuomas gave his remarks about the song, stating that it’s a crucial thing to surrender oneself to the sporadic free fall fearing not being unique. The song’s video was inspired by the untold narratives of the abandoned dwellings across Finland.
# 2 – Amaranth
“Amaranth” is one of the best Nightwish songs from the band’s album Dark Passion Play. The song was also written by Tuomas, who has been so helpful in crafting lyrics for the band’s songs. “Amaranth” was the second single to feature singer Anette Olzon in Nightwish. The song peaked at number one on the UK Rock Chart and the Finnish Singles Chart.
# 1 – Bye Bye Beautiful
Number one on our top 10 Nightwish songs list is the ballad “Bye Bye Beautiful.” Featured on the album Dark Passion Play, the song has vocals shared by Nightwish’s vocalists Marco and Olzon. Tuomas penned the song about a founder member and former vocalist of the band, Tarja Turunen. “Bye Bye Beautiful” peaked at number two on the UK Rock Chart.
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