About three days ago, YouTube had introduced me to a band I'd never heard of called Nightwish. They're a highly-melodic (and synth-heavy) metal band from Finland that sings in English. What makes them unusual is that their lead vocalist is female. My main problem with metal is its unchecked testosterone, so I was immediately intrigued by the thumbnail in YouTube showing what appeared to be a woman thrashing her raven locks. In the first YouTube videos I saw, Nightwish was fronted by a big horsey Amazon of a woman who seemed to personify the apotheosis of the metal chick look. Her voice was powerful and the songs were all pretty catchy (if perhaps a little too polished, as Scandinavian English-language songs tend to be). Later, though, I saw Nightwish videos in which the band was fronted by a mousier woman with less-powerful pipes. Though she didn't sing as well, I dug her look; she didn't look anywhere near as metal. She looked like the girl next door who nobody knew was into metal.
My disappointment with Nightwish came as I watched video after video of that girl next door (whose name turned out to be Anette) performing live. It wasn't so much the songs and Annette's voice that disappointed me; it was the lyrics, which were unfortunately provided as subtitles. To the extent they made any sense, they were bombastic and, well, cornball. This is the risk of writing songs in second language, though without the subtitles there'd been enough unintelligibility in the accents for me to not bother parsing most of the words.
Back, then, to those MP3s that came up on my MP3 player. One was called "Ever Dream," and I was somewhat familiar with it from Anette's live performance. But holy shit, the version I'd put in the playlist was not Anette's. The woman singing this studio version had incredible pipes, perhaps better even than those I'd heard demonstrated by the horsey Amazon woman. At my next opportunity, I put "Ever Dream" three times in a row in the playlist. I never do that! It's a great song, with several great moments, including the most perfect key change in metal. It's so good it's a little strange I'd never heard it before. It's a little like discovering the existence of "Don't Fear the Reaper" at my age. Mind you, the song still has problems: the lyrics make no sense, and to the extent they do, they seem to accidentally refer to the kind of masturbation one does when a lover is absent or permanently out of one's life. And it's so polished and hook-heavy, it sounds like it might actually be a car commercial. But that operatic voice and the weird Finnish pronunciation of the English lyrics keep reminding you that it is something much weirder.
Later I managed to wrap my mind around the fact that Nightwish had actually had three different female vocalists. The first was Tarja Turunen (a Finn; she was the one who had sung the studio version of "Ever Dream"), the second was that girl-next-door crypto metal chick Anette Olzon (a Swede) and the last, the horsey Amazon woman with the incredible voice, is named Floor Jansen (she's Dutch, which accounts for why she towers over the rest of the band). I should mention that Floor does such a great live version of "Ever Dream" that I broke into sobs watching it (though this might've been the marijuana tea talking).
Other great Nightwish songs include "Last Ride of the Day," "Wish I had an Angel," and "Bye Bye Beautiful."