Nightwish's Floor Jansen: 10 records that changed my life

Floor Jansen
(Image credit: Laura Zalenga)

Vocalist for Nightwish and newly minted solo artist with her recent album Paragon, Floor Jansen is an undeniable icon. But long before she was making a name for herself as a symphonic metal powerhouse in After Forever, she was an avid music fan who had already started studying some of the greatest vocalists in history. 

So naturally, when we asked Floor to pick out the ten records that changed her life, there's a running theme of immense vocal talents that helped set her on the path to greatness.

Buy Paragon from Amazon.

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Eurythmics - Touch (1983)

"Growing up, my parents used to listen to Here Comes The Rain Again by Eurythmics, so that’s how I got in touch with it. Of course, Annie Lennox has a very distinctive voice and that was one of the first things I really started singing along to, so in that sense it’s a part of my own musical development.

Throughout the years I’ve started to appreciate her as a songwriter more and more. These are very old songs, and yet everybody still knows them – they’re timeless. They’ve been covered to bits, and unfortunately the covers usually aren’t better, but it says something about how good this song is and how timeless it is."

Alanis Morisette - Jagged Little Pill (1995)

"Like Annie Lennox, Alanis Morissette formed me and my interest in singing. I was about thirteen when I first heard You Oughta Know. She has her heart on her tongue and she always puts it right there as she means it; it’s very to the point.

The funny thing is now she’s been part of a little film about highly sensitive people [Sensitive: The Untold Story]. She’s in there, talking about the combination of being a highly sensitive person and an artist and of course, as an artist and a highly sensitive woman, I could really identify myself in her stories and reconnect with her at a much later age, in a sense. She came back into my life through that."

Roxette - It Must Have Been Love (single, 1990)

"It Must Have Been Love by Roxette is great sing-a-long music. It’s pretty uncomplicated, super Swedish, very well-written, very well-performed, and one that I just sang and sang! This was also played a lot in the car – you’d have to ask my mum and dad what those journeys were like, my sister and I sang their ears bloody [laughs]! It’s definitely true that the Swedes are great songwriters. It was hard to choose just one song, but this one is as good as any from that time, I think."

The Gathering - Mandylion (1995)

"I first heard The Gathering on the radio. I was listening to a lot of grunge and rock but not much metal yet; that came with Pantera and Machine Head, bands that I really liked, but nothing with a female voice that could really work for me. 

There were some female singers, but they were all high and operatic, and I was missing that power – until I heard The Gathering. Strange Machines  just did it for me. That was the first step for me in thinking, I wanna sing in a metal band too! Anneke [van Giersbergen] is opening a few of my solo shows for me this year."

Skunk Anansie - Paranoid And Sunburnt (1995)

"When Weak by Skunk Anansie came out, everything about them was revolutionary. Skin was Black, bald, and gay, a lot of things that people have issues with, but the way she kicked against that – 'I am the way I am and if you don’t like it, too bad for you' – that in itself was so inspiring for a young girl growing up. 

But what she did with her voice, those long howls and the effortless highs, that was right up my alley. Back in the day I played that album, Paranoid & Sunburnt, until it was just threads."

Halestorm - The Strange Case Of... (2012)

"I’m not sure exactly how I stumbled upon I Miss The Misery, but that was the first thing I heard from Halestorm. The first thing Lzzy Hale does in the song is this howl, and she really got me on the first note – that’s rare. I was like, “okay, damn!” It’s very American-produced and that hook of “whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” is pretty cheesy, but it totally works! 

I’ve seen her live and all I can think is, how on Earth does your voice survive? She screams and kicks and grunts and everything she does is super cool. Lzzy is a powerhouse, she stands for being feminine in a man’s world and describing her feelings quite to the point in her lyrics."

Evergrey - A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) (2022)

"Every day on tour in Europe with Nightwish I’ve played Midwinter Calls by Evergrey when I’m putting on make-up. I started listening to them in their early years, when they were still full-on prog. 

But what I really appreciate is how every album has something different, how they as a band and Tom [Englund] as a singer-songwriter keep evolving. He has a lot of pop influences in how he sings, and soul and jazz. The common thread throughout this list is singers – you can write great songs, but if the singer doesn’t work for me, I probably won’t last throughout the song just because I can’t get over a voice that I can’t appreciate."

Symphony X - Underworld (2015)

"Without You by Symphony X is a very emotional song, but it’s a great example of what I really appreciate about Russell Allen, which is that he manages to be the glue in a prog song that can otherwise be incredibly complex, by making melodies that are followable and even catchy, and that has made it for me. 

That’s why I can listen to Symphony X. He has this full-bodied rocky sound, and his biggest virtue as far as I’m concerned is that he can sing from his heart. You can hear that he means it. I’ve learned a lot from him, he gave me some really wise lessons that I will never forget: that even in stage performance, you can’t always just give everything away. Build it up."

Sam Ryder - There's Nothing But Space, Man! (2022)

"Sam Ryder has an amazing voice, it’s quite diverse: he can go from almost Queen-like singing, to very poppy, to something more like Muse. What inspires me about him is that he’s a self-made man in the modern days, singing his head off on the Internet for God knows how long without anything really happening for him until he was just lifted up and thrown into the world, and seemingly just being the same guy throughout it all, you know? 

I hope he can stay himself throughout the whole pressure that’s on his shoulders, as it is right now. I hope he survives the madness of that."

Queen - Innuendo (1991)

"If you make a playlist where singers are your common thread, you can’t really make one without Freddie Mercury. It’s hard to choose one Queen song, but The Show Must Go On is one that we once covered with After Forever. 

Speaking about singing from the heart, his vocal interpretation is still one of the best that has ever been. That’s not something you can learn, it’s just something you have – something that he had. This song stands for pushing through even when things are shit, and that sentence often goes through my head when I’m thinking that I don’t know if I can do this: the show must go on. 

It’s empowering. It’s so beautiful. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, as music should be. That’s the beauty of writing. If I didn’t have the list I’ve just presented to inspire me, where would I be? I’m very grateful there are so many that went before me.

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Floor Jansen's solo album Paragon is out now