daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian by September 8th!

Tiësto’s ‘Drive’ swerves meaningful lyricism, propels powerful production

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

APRIL 28, 2023

Grade: 3.0/5.0

Tiësto brings the club to listeners’ homes with his latest album, Drive. The Dutch DJ and music producer brings all of his classic moves in his seventh studio album. 

Expertly synthesizing vocals from notable artists such as Tate McRae and Karol G with trap beats, Tiësto does not shy away from smoke and mirrors. However, rather than creating excessive action, the artist’s additional features fill his tracks with a hazy club vibe, transforming the act of listening into a performance of feeling. 

For instance, Tiësto crafts McRae’s heartfelt lovesick lyrics into a physical experience. With the use of echoing vocals, a consistent background drum accompaniment and the pulse of the beat mirroring flashing lights in the club, it becomes possible to feel metaphorical arms wrapping around the listener as they are transported to the moment sung about in “10:35.”

The masterful management of musical elements is critical to the success of Drive. As a traditional album, Drive would fail the typical checks such as considerations of lyricism, depth and personality. Many of the lyrics in the individual tracks are overly repetitive and lack a story. Clouded by the background instrumentation, the vocals can be hard to discern at times. Finally, there is not much to indicate a personal connection to the music. 

However, for Tiësto’s endeavor, this actually works to his advantage. As opposed to containing encoded lyrical messages or brimming with passion, his album urges listeners to close their eyes and live in the moment. This music is not necessarily designed for someone to connect and empathize with. Its intention is clear: Let yourself go and feel the beat. 

Given the album’s direction and unique take, it can be hard to appreciate the music mid-day while trying to focus on another task. Make no mistake, Drive is not meant to be enjoyed in the background. It is making its way to center stage, demanding attention and commanding the room. 

While the lyrics may often lack deeper meaning, the album creatively forms the story of a girl at the club getting over a heartbreak. Going through the multitude of emotions experienced in a break-up, it begins with the woman ready to party all night, moves through phases of needing love — being too good for the ex, taking back any chance of affection — and ends with her finally giving up, losing herself to the rhythm. 

Throughout the progression of Drive, Tiësto finds unique ways to match the musical production to the vocals of individual artists, creating a distinct sound for each track. For instance, in “Bet My Dollar” Tiësto uses reverberating vocals to add nuance to Freya Ridings’ operatic voice. On the other hand, in “The Business,” James Bell’s bluesy and soulful vocals are accompanied by a simple clapping backbeat to emphasize the lower alto range of his vocals. 

With these successful collaborations, Tiësto emphasizes his range and capability, his meaningful production elevating the overall work. It is an art form created with deeper thought, although seemingly innocuous on the surface. 

When trying to create a club mood, look no further than Tiësto’s seventh record. Though Drive relies too heavily on repetition and over-simplified lyrics, its hypnotic tunes are an easy fix to transform any living room into a dance floor throughout the night.

Contact Sejal Krishnan at 


APRIL 28, 2023