The Top 10 Greatest Nightwish Songs

Click each title to listen.

10. The Pharaoh Sails to Orion

Oceanborn, 1998

My personal favorite Nightwish song, but tenth on this list, unfortunately. This song is Nightwish at their heaviest. Yet, it’s still harmonic. I think it can be considered one of their most enjoyable, even to people who do not like Nightwish. I’ve never showed this song to anyone who didn’t at least respect it (everyone I show Nightwish to says they don’t like the band; it’s sad). It is because this song is Nightwish at their greatest that I believed it needed to be on this list, but it lacks in other categories I will be talking about later.

9. Know Why the Nightingale Sings

Angels Fall First, 1997

I absolutely adore the lyrics of this song. You can read the lyrics of this song and respect it as a beautiful poem, but the song also has great instrumentals. It is lower on this list because it doesn’t invoke emotion of any kind; it is simply enjoyable to listen to. It ranks higher than Pharaoh because of its lyrics.

8. 10th Man Down

Over the Hills and Far Away EP, 2001

The song that got me hooked to Nightwish back in ’07. I had listened to Nightwish before hearing this song, but once I heard this song, I realized this was my favorite band. This song would be on the list of Nightwish’s top 5 most unique songs. In fact, I think only Slow, Love, Slow is more unique than it. When you listen to this song, it doesn’t sound like it came from any Nightwish album, and it didn’t; it came from an EP. This song makes you feel both sad and angry at the ugliness of war. In fact, the music starts sad and then turns angry, as if the listener has been through war and was broken by it, and over time they hate having had the experience altogether.

7. Last of the Wilds

Dark Passion Play, 2007

Everybody can love this song, even people whose taste in music doesn’t remotely resemble Nightwish’s style. There are no lyrics, yet it still invokes some emotion. It is simply beautiful, and entertaining. It’s not a song anybody would mind having stuck in their head all day. This song’s ability to appeal to far more people than any other Nightwish song made me feel I had no choice but to put it on this list. You can listen to this song no matter what mood you’re in, and it fits virtually any setting as well.

6. Turn Loose the Mermaids

Imaginaerum, 2011

This song scores more ‘beautiful’ points than any other category by far. You’d never guess a hard-rock band produced this. I feel this song is great because it has fantastic lyrics that seem like they were lifted from a centuries-old classic book (or song), but no, it was simply Tuomas at his best. Rather low on the entertainment value – I almost never listen to this song in my spare time – but anyone in need of soothing music, or artistic inspiration, should have this song playing in the background.

5. Ghost Love Score

Once, 2004

I’ve heard many people across the internet claim this song as their all-time favorite Nightwish song. I’ll admit I didn’t care for it for the first 10ish years of my Nightwish fandom, but I’ve recently come to appreciate it and even love it. It is beautiful, it is enjoyable, and I can see why so many call it their favorite. A fact about this song most people overlook is that it is neither the first nor last track on its album. It’s third-to-last, as if Nightwish didn’t contrive its length to be ‘the epic song of the album’ (like certain other songs I could mention).

4. Nemo

Once, 2004

Now we’re getting into ‘the feels’ territory, starting with Nemo. You can’t listen to this song without feeling something. I feel a mixture of sadness and loss hearing this track. But it is not a straight-up ballad. It’s a hybrid between heavy and ballad, as if to amplify the emotion, as if to say how passionately the character ‘Nemo’ feels. Nemo is a prime example of Nightwish’s ability to make songs both beautiful and heavy, and it’s respect for music itself in making songs that balance the two so well.

3. The Poet and the Pendulum

Dark Passion Play, 2007

At 14 minutes long, it’s amazing that this song never drags. It scores high in every category – emotion, escapism, entertainment value, beauty, and meaning. It is the song that seems to be the most personal to Tuomas, the writer of the majority of Nightwish songs. I mean, it does outright say his name. When you listen to this song, you’ll believe a whole orchestra made it. Nope, it was just the Nightwish quintet. I used to consider this their greatest song for this reason.

2. Sleeping Sun

Oceanborn, 1998

Specifically, the remastered version from their Decades compilation. I think this is Nightwish’s most beautiful song, both in music and lyrics. Only the number-one song on this list beats this song, and only narrowly. It was written in honor of a solar eclipse Finland had at the time, but the song itself sounds like a love song to its core. A love that is cosmic in scale, and eternal in length, if only these lovers (featured in the song) could truly be together like that. It seems they only had one night together, but they absolutely made the most of it. This song is so amazing, I’m saddened it was only an afterthought when Oceanborn first came out. Nightwish seems to have retroactively tried to make its fans forget it was merely a bonus track back in the day.

Honorable Mentions

Beauty and the Beast

One of my personal favorites, but couldn’t include on this list officially because it is a bit clunky. Glorious ending, though.

Dead Boy’s Poem

It would be sacrilegious not to include this song in some way on this list. It is a great song, but not top-10 material in my opinion because it is difficult to listen to. It is difficult to enjoy simply as a song. We should all admit it’s beautiful, but even the most avid Nightwish fans rarely randomly think, “I want to listen to Dead Boy’s Poem.”

Song of Myself

I actually was going to include this song on the list, but I forget that it has an out-of-place second half that ruins the track overall. If the first half was all there was to this song, it would have made the list. It is in my personal top-10 favorites.

(most Nightwish songs in general)

1. Beauty of the Beast

Century Child, 2002

Easily the most underrated Nightwish song of all time. I could write a whole article about why I believe this song is their greatest, but here I will only attempt to summarize. It is among their most beautiful, and heavy, and meaningful, and enjoyable, and impactful. It may not score the highest in any of these particular categories, but it certainly scores highest of any other Nightwish song altogether. This song, like some others, feels like it was written long ago and has been a cultural classic for centuries. It deserves to be so. I’m saddened Nightwish fans barely even acknowledge this song’s existence. It is the ultimate Nightwish song. It is a classic. It is powerful. It is deeply meaningful. It is everything you could want from Nightwish all at once.

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