Tarja vs Anette – The Nightwish Debate

For those of you who do not know, Nightwish is a Finnish symphonic metal band that is one of the biggest bands in the world. That is, outside of North America, as they do not have the exposure and respect in Canada and The United States that they should. That is another blog for another day for a do have a Rant to let loose about another Nightwish issue. The debate that has been ongoing since 2007: Tarja vs Anette.

In 2005 Nightwish had just finished a concert in Helsinki, Finalnd for the “End Of An Era” DVD and CD, when lead singer Tarja Turunen was presented with an open letter from the band stating that she was let go from Nightwish. Tuomas Holopainen, who is the main catalyst for crafting the songs of the band and founder, wrote the letter but Marco Hietala, Emppu Vuorinen and Jukka Nevalainen all signed the letter. Holopainen then published the letter on Nightwish’s official web site for the fans.

Here is the letter in full:

Dear Tarja,

It’s time to choose whether the story of Nightwish ends here or whether it will still continue an undetermined period of time. We’ve been working with this creation for 9 years and we are not ready to give up yet. Nightwish is a way of life, something to live for, and we’re certain we can’t let it go.

Equally certain is the fact that we cannot go on with you and Marcelo any longer. During the last year something sad happened, which I’ve been going over in my head every single day, morning and night. Your attitude and behavior don’t go with Nightwish anymore. There are characteristics I would never have believed to see in my old dear friend.

People who don’t talk with each other for a year do not belong in the same band. 
We are involved in an industry where the business-side of things is a necessary evil and something to worry about all the time. We are also a band which has always done music from the heart, because of friendship and the music itself. The mental satisfaction should always be more important than money! Nightwish is a band, it’s an emotion.

To you, unfortunately, business, money, and things that have nothing to do with those emotions have become much more important. You feel that you have sacrificed yourself and your musical career for Nightwish, rather than thinking what it has given to you.

This attitude was clearly shown to me in the two things you said to me in an airplane in Toronto: “I don’t need Nightwish anymore.” and “Remember, Tuomas, that I could leave this band at any time, giving you only one day’s warning in advance”.

I can’t simply write any more songs for you to sing.

You have said yourself that you are merely a “guest musician” in Nightwish. Now that visit ends and we will continue Nightwish with a new female vocalist.

We’re sure this is an equally big relief to you as it is for us. We have all been feeling bad long enough.

You told us that no matter what, the next Nightwish album will be your last one. However, the rest of us want to continue as long as the fire burns. So there’s no sense in doing that next album with you, either.

The four of us have been going over this situation countless times and we have realized that this is the thing we want to do in life. It´s all we can do. In December 2004, in Germany, you said that you will never tour again for more than two weeks at a time. You also said that we can forget about U.S. and Australia because the fees and the sizes of venues are too small.

In interviews I’ve mentioned that if Tarja leaves, that would be the end of the band. I understand that people will think this way. Nightwish is, however, a scenery of my soul and I’m not ready to let go because of one person. A person who wants to focus her creativity to somewhere else, a person whose values don’t match mine.

We were never bothered by the fact that you didn’t participate in writing/arranging songs, you never in 9 years came to rehearse the songs with us before going to the studio. Not the fact that while on tour you always wanted to fly, separately from us with your husband. Not the fact that you are an undisputable front image of the band.

We accepted and felt ok about everything except greed, underestimating the fans, and breaking promises. It was agreed by the five of us that Nightwish would be the priority in everything that we do during 2004-2005. Still so many things were more important to you. The ultimate example being the already sold-out show in Oslo, which you wanted to cancel because you needed to rehearse for your solo concerts, meet frieds and go to the movies. Those were the words Marcelo used in an e-mail explaining the cancellation. This being just one example of so many. I couldn’t think of a worse way of being selfish and dismissing our fans.

Nightwish is a way of life and a job with many obligations. To each other and to the fans. With you we can’t take care of those duties anymore.

Deep within we don’t know which one of you drove us to this point. Somehow Marcelo has changed you from the lovely girl you were into a diva, who doesn’t think or act the way she used to. You are too sure of your irreplaceableness and status.

It’s obvious that you blame your stress and misery on us four. And you think we don’t respect or listen to you. Believe us; We have always had the uppermost respect towards you as a wonderful vocalist and as a friend. And very often during the past couple of years the plans were made according to your decisions only. You were always the only one who wanted more money from the shows.

This “compensation and more money from everything” -attitude is the fact that we are most disappointed of!
We wish that from now on you will listen to your heart instead of Marcelo. Cultural differences combined with greed, opportunism and love is a dangerous combination. Do not wither yourself.

This decision is not something we are especially proud of but you gave us no choice. The gap between us is too wide. And the decision is made by us four unanimously. We are beyond the point where things could be settled by talking.

All the best for your life and career,


Emppu, Jukka, Marco

I now want to look at each woman and what the bring to the table and then will address the debate on a personal level and give my 2 cents on the matter.


Tarja was a trained as classical opera singer and is a full lyric soprano and has a vocal range of three octaves. She brought a very powerful and dramatic voice to the songs that were written by Tuomas. She had an out of this world range in her vocals and brought a unique sound to the band, especially a metal band. As per her Wiki page:

“She had training in many different forms of singing when she joined Nightwish. As a classical singer, she sings with classical vocal technique. She explained that in the early days of Nightwish, it was difficult to combine classical technique with the metal sound in a way that gave her liberty of action without damaging her vocal cords. Classical techniques helped her to play with her voice, so she decided not to pursue extra training in rock/pop singing.”


If there was ever a complete opposite to replace Tarja, it is Anette. Her musical and vocal background is nowhere near as specialized as Tarja. Anette did take vocals lessons but she was raised in a musical family and toured with them from a young age. She had been a lead singer of various small bands but did land a job as a back up session vocalist. Her big break came when she was made lead singer of the band Alyson Avenue and had their demo come across the desk of the record label AOR Heaven.

Nightwish held auditions for Tarja’s spot as lead singer and while they loved Anette’s vocals. Tuomas had concerns with the fact that she had a young son. She officially joined Nightwish in 2007, chosen from about 2,000 applicants of which 10 made it to prove their place in front of the band. The song on her demo tape was the 2002 single “Ever Dream”. From her Wiki:

” Tuomas commented on her selection saying “we (the band) took a formal vote, but it was unanimous that she would be the one. It was a matter of heart. We felt she was right.” Her identity was kept secret by various methods, including pretending to be Nightwish manager Ewo Pohjola’s “Swedish cousin” at a Tarot concert, until she was eventually announced as the new Nightwish singer on 24 May 2007.”

Rare photo of Anette and Tarja Together

MY 2 CENTS: I have no issue with Anette being the lead singer of Nightwish. Alot of fans are outraged that Tarja was replaced but the truth of the matter is there did seem to be some matter of distance between Tarja and the rest of the band. I have seen alot of footage of the band promoting shows the year that is in question and most of the time it is Tuomas, Marco, Jukka and Emppu touring the press junket and facing the various forms of the media. I think that we are extremely lucky that we can still have Nightwish in some form continue on and also be able to enjoy the solo music that Tarja is putting out as well. Both camps are happy and have had to deal with the fall out of the decision to cut Tarja loose.

TARJA –  brought a very unique and powerful voice to Nightwish and her contributions should never be ignored. I do believe that she brought a sense of refinement to the sound of the band her ability to sing such amazing ranges made the band sound like no one else in music. I did find that she seemed to lack the stage presence that many lead singers and front man have. She never seemed comfortable with the interplay of the other band members on the stage or with interactions with the audience. She was able to overcome this by singing like no one else could.

ANETTE – has roots in the rock and roll sound and style due to her extensive work as a background session vocalist and being the lead singer of various rock bands throughout her career. The newer Nightwish songs play to her strengths and while she did seem to struggle with some of the classic Nightwish songs at first, she has greatly improved and now has made them her own. The one area where she does totally trump Tarja is the ability to be an engaging front man for the band. She is always playfully interacting with her band mates and also the audience. It comes natural to her. Her singing has always been top notch, just different than Tarja’s.


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9 Responses to Tarja vs Anette – The Nightwish Debate

  1. Joseph says:

    How bout Tarja AND Anette!

  2. Akira says:

    I’ve been to every Nightwish gig I could get to since the band was founded and I am in no way disappointed by Tarja being replaced.
    I loved Tarja’s voice and I am sure that if it hadn’t been for her, the band wouldn’t be where it is today since the combination of her singing with Tuomas’ more than awesome music and lyrics made the band really stand out in the first place, but judging from a fan’s point of view, to be honest, I like Anette even more, especially at live gigs.
    I remember the first gig I ever saw with her (which was in 2008 in Salzburg, Austria) and the way she interacted with Tuomas while playing Ever Dream, just looks and feelings, that was better than ANYTHING I had ever seen being performed by Tarja live on stage. Live gigs aren’t about perfect performances of the songs on the CD, they are about living the music, feeling it much more intensly than you ever can at home, making it yours for the moment and that’s something Anette totally does. I was awe-struck that evening, honestly. Best concert I’ve ever been to. I also had the feeling the band was for once a real band and not “a front-woman with her appendices”. They feel like a unit now and all of them get the attention they deserve.
    Lastly I love that since Anette was made vocalist, Marco gets a lot more “stage time” since I love his voice and his comments live are hilarious. So much fun! 🙂
    I’m really happy about the way things turned out, couldn’t be happier as a matter of fact 🙂

    • jasonhuskins says:

      I feel the same way….I have not seen them live but I have watched as much concert footage either through DVD or online and while I respect Tarja like hell for what she did with the band…I felt like it was the “Tarja and Nightwish” show….Anette really seems to have recharged the Nightwish battery and has grown into a great frontwoman for the band….her vocals are right now out of this world….amazing…I agree with you my friend…I am happy with how things are as well!!

  3. Kevin says:

    Where was that photo taken of the two if them?!

  4. Jay swaim says:

    Well I think that Tarja and Anette should be in the band together but Tarja has a little Oprah in her voice in instead of rock but the synoptic metal goes good with her style but she also likes classical and Anette is perfect with the band .

  5. Pingback: Within Temptation join forces with Tarja « RockStopScene

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