DJ Tiesto’s journey to fame began in 2001, and he is now known as one of the biggest DJs in the world, if not THE biggest (A title given to him by DJMag in 2013). The Grammy nominated artist, also known as Allure, has previously released four albums, and these were all highly acclaimed by critics. 2014 sees Tijs Michiel Verwest simply going by the name of Tiesto (dropping the ‘DJ’) and releasing his fifth studio album A Town Called Paradise.
Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has really changed the face of pop music, and has become a prominent fixture at the top of the charts. The problem with this is that with so many DJs becoming well known, EDM tracks can quickly become cliche and generic rather than the original genre it once was. This seems to be the trap that Tiesto has fallen into with A Town Called Paradise.
The album starts off with single Red Lights, which works well because of its catchy hook by Michael Zitron. The instrumental breakdown is similar to things we’ve heard before, but the track is more pop than EDM and this is probably the reason it was a hit. Wasted featuring Matthew Koma and Let’s Go with Icona Pop follow this same pattern, although these songs have more of an EDM vibe. These songs have more lyrics than some others on the album, and are likely to become fan favourites because they can sing the infectious chorus’ at the top of their lungs. While Let’s Go has a pretty generic breakdown in the middle, Wasted is more simplistic and this works in its favour.
Some of the tracks on A Town Called Paradise suffer from the issue of overproduction. Last Train features some great vocals and fantastic lyrics from Ladyhawke, but these elements are overpowered by the cliche synth beats. Shimmer has a similar problem; it has some fantastic violin and piano instrumentals in the background, but the vocals are produced to sound echo-y. This becomes really off-putting, especially within the falsetto sections.
Echoes is a highlight on the album, as its ‘warped’ sound has a really cool vibe and is completely different to everything else on this album. The Feeling, featuring Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, feels a bit more original than some of the other tracks and has a great dance melody. Tiesto teams up with Kaaze for Rocky, and the focus on melody only, without lyrics, pays off.
Tiesto has said that he wants to make people happy with music from A Town Called Paradise, and it’s sure to achieve its goal. However, in trying to please his audience too much, it would seem that Tiesto has fallen into the trap of following the successful formula of other DJs. This leads to an album on which some songs sound almost identical and whilst Tiesto’s hooks were once instantly recognisable as his own, could now be passed off as any countless others.