My Final Pop Culture EssayA Story by Ali Mayne
The word limit was 750 max - tougher than you'd think! Somehow I managed to scrape a 2:1 for this.
Choose a single ‘text’ in any genre and analyse its discourse of authenticity.
Album review: Dark Passion Play – Nightwish
Written by Dimitris K, 20th September 2007
In 2005, Tarja Turunen shocked metal fans everywhere: the legendary operatic soprano was leaving the ground-breaking symphonic metal band, Nightwish. As Dimitris states, Nightwish made their name through “Tarja’s trademark voice”, and there is no doubt that most fans (including the reviewer) thought the Finnish band was doomed. However after consistent auditions spanning just under a year from 2006 to 2007, keyboardist, founder and main songwriter Tuomas Holopainen settled for Anette Olzon, a Swedish singer. During an interview, Holopainen said the band made the final decision in January 2007 based on the impression Olzon made while performing the popular Nightwish song “Ever Dream”. Aware of fans’ reactions, Holopainen commented, “Of course it’s gonna be a huge task for the singer – she will always be compared to Tarja but I’m pretty confident that she’ll do well”. Bearing this in mind, the new line-up was psyched to record and release a new album, Dark Passion Play in 2007. As Dimitris puts it, it is probably their “darkest album yet”. As for a reason behind this, not only is it the album which “saved [Holopainen’s] life” but maybe a backlash against every Turunen-soaked album Nightwish ever had.
The obvious difference between both singers is their vocal types: Turunen’s classically-trained operatic vocals really set the standard for symphonic metal bands of the last ten years. Dimitris goes out of his way proclaiming Turunen’s “ton-heavy shadow” as a hard act to follow. On the other hand, Olzon is not an opera singer, yet her powerful rock soprano has the ability to tell the same stories Turunen did. That said, the first official single “Eva”, proved to be “nothing special” in Dimitris’ opinion; despite the clear demonstration of Olzon’s impressive vocal range, she was “obviously not following Tarja’s step regarding the operatic vocals”. Judging by his disappointment, it seems Dimitris was beginning to assume Nightwish had come to a dead end. However, by the time the album promo arrives, Dimitris’ mood changes: his excitement surrounding Nightwish’s new material is showcased by his wild and dangerous remark, “I almost sold my soul to the Devil to get the review assignment”.
Dimitris makes a strong point in stating that the opening track [“The Poet and the Pendulum”] introduces Olzon’s “high pitched” but “not operatic” vocals, giving us the idea that her voice is significantly different from her predecessor. But then again, that’s what most fans listen for when there is a new member and ultimately a new album. In rock discourse, Allan Moore believes the term authenticity is used to define “a style of writing or performing, particularly anything associated with the practices of the singer/songwriter”. He also mentions first, second and third person authenticity. I believe Olzon adopts her native tongue, as well as following the high-pitched Turunen trend; plus her ability to communicate the Nightwish ‘sound’ lets her efforts fall into the first person category with a hint of third person, as her faithfulness to the original style is apparent in her vocal interpretations.
What seems like “pompous orchestration” is actually an important feature of Holopainen’s composing style as he is heavily influenced by film music. Dimitris goes on to say that the sound production is excellent, providing a “perfect balance between melody and heaviness”; so much that the “epic” atmosphere leads him to declare it “one of the best Nightwish tracks”. This is where Dimitris rescues Nightwish after their seemingly false start and launches into descriptive passages concerning major tracks on the long-awaited album. He does not focus on Olzon’s vocals much, yet his love for the heavy musical style is present; especially when he adds that tracks filled with guitar driven riffs remind us of “Nightwish’s heavy metal ancestry”.
Due to Nightwish’s massive repertoire and Turunen’s iconic presence in the entire collection, there are obviously songs that suit her voice more than Olzon’s, and these are not performed live by the current line-up, much to Dimitris’ disappointment concerning Olzon’s inability to communicate the “more demanding” older material. On the whole, I think Dimitris and I can agree that Nightwish have a slightly different sound now and it suits Olzon’s sweet yet powerful vocal range perfectly.
· Wikipedia. Dark Passion Play. Online. 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightwish#Dark_Passion_Play
· Interview with Tuomas Holopainen. Metal from
· Moore, Allan. “Authenticity as authentication”. Critical Essays in Popular Musicology.
· Best Selling Finnish Albums. Online. 2009. http://www.ifpi.fi/tilastot/myydyimmat/kaikki
· Wikipedia. Lyric Soprano. Online. 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyric_soprano
· Wikipedia. Tarja Turunen. Online. 2009.
 Holopainen, Tuomas; quote from Wikipedia. Dark Passion Play: New Vocalist. Online 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightwish#Dark_Passion_Play
 Holopainen, Tuomas; quote from Metal from
 Moore, Allan. “Authenticity as authentication”. Critical Essays in Popular Musicology.
© 2009 Ali Mayne
Added on June 22, 2009
Last Updated on November 18, 2009
AboutI love writing poetry, songs and stories. I like living life because events invite me to review them in a poetic way. I've always loved creative subjects like music, creative writing, photography, dra.. more..