Photo: Danielle deGrasse
If I have ever used the term “bop” unironically and unapologetically, it has been when describing Troye Sivan’s music. The 23-year-old triple threat from Johannesburg, South Africa, albeit groomed by Perth, Australia, is more than a glowing pop superstar; he is changing the very fabric of what pop looks like.
Through lyrically-driven electronic dance-pop and an unrelenting commitment to who he is, Sivan is ushering in a new wave of critically-acclaimed pop that has doubled as a space for millions to feel accepted for who they are. However, before Sivan was shaping what a worldwide pop phenomenon is and should strive to be, he was a young boy out of Perth already growing a humble following with his impressive falsetto.
Photo: Heidi Slimane
Sivan’s musical ambitions have seemingly always been present, with videos of the star-to-be performing at the age of 12 on the Seven Perth Telethon. However, what arguably paved the road for Sivan’s monumental rise was the invention of a similar cultural monolith to be–YouTube. Posting covers under the handle “TroyeSivan18,” (guessing Troye Sivan was already taken at the time) the Perth artist quickly gained a following on the budding platform. To this day, it is uncertain if Sivan’s greatest work of art to date is the undeniable bop that is the Charli XCX-assisted “1999” or an almost 13-year-old Sivan covering Declan Galbraith’s “Tell Me Why.”
All far too precious covers aside, it was this early adoption of YouTube that led to Sivan establishing himself as a name to watch beyond music. Already having expressed an interest in acting, working in a local stage production and a short film, it was a video of Sivan performing at a telethon that caught the eyes of a Hollywood agent. This would result in a teenage Sivan landing his first role in a major film, appearing as a young Wolverine in the 2009 film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. At this point in time, is usually when one would expect the inevitable pivot, where a new promising star decides to fully commit to either music or film. Sivan did and to this day is doing both, starring in the 2018 coming-of-age film Boy Erased, alongside Nicole Kidman.
Following his breakout venture role into major films, Sivan would delve into another of mediums to emerge as a much-needed public figure. On the motion picture side, the next odd four years would see a young Sivan playing the lead role in the Spud trilogy as John “Spud” Milton. However, during this time frame, the Perth artist would begin to shape his inevitable future as the best thing to happen to pop. In 2012, Sivan began regularly posting to YouTube, although the focus would be on vlogging as opposed to covers. That is not to say his music took a backseat at this time, with 2014 seeing his first major label release, TRXYE.
Over the course of a few short years, Sivan had become something greater than an artist, actor, and vlogger. He became a voice of a generation, particularly for a part of a generation that felt most unheard and afraid. August 7, 2013 signifies the day Sivan openly came out in a heartfelt vlog post. While in no way does that date mark the day Sivan’s sexual orientation came to solely define him; for many, it alerted people to a pop star who existed outside of the popular norm, a pop star they could feel safe and accepted in their admiration.
Photo: Heidi Slimane
The years to come for Sivan would see his music receiving numerous accolades and chart placement, both from TRYXE and his debut studio album, Blue Neighbourhood. In typical Sivan fashion, the wealth of praise was not allocated solely to his music, with Time magazine naming him as one of the 25 most influential teens of 2014. And therein lies the truth behind Sivan’s magnetism. It cannot be understated how he is more than just an amazing pop artist or a binge-worthy vlogger. At the end of the day, for so many of his fans, Sivan is a paragon of a human being and a cultural staple that they can see themselves in. However, this notion was at the time not fully realized. Well, at least not until the release of Bloom but more on that soon.
2018 was irrefutably the year of Troye Sivan. He evolved miraculously in his craft, releasing bop after bop and cementing himself as a permanent fixture in the LGBTQ community and beyond. He was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live, he released a single with longtime-friend Ariana Grande. and arguably most important of all, Sivan would gift the world with his sophomore album, Bloom. A phenomenal exploration of gay expression, it would become Sivan’s highest charting album to date. Most of all, it signified the start of an age, belonging to a new sort of pop icon.
Before Sivan, it was commonplace to hide or downplay one’s sexuality in fear of the public shying away from an artist or casting them completely aside. With Bloom, Sivan proved that his sexuality was something that could and would be produced by not only his most of devoted of fans by the world at large. As we mentioned earlier, Sivan’s sexuality did not come to define him, but it remains an unquestionable part of who he is. Embracing that identity and crystallizing it into a singular project of astounding, lasting pop perfection, he did something greater than what most artists can ever hope to do. Sivan released Bloom, and in doing so, affected not only the genre of pop but the very culture itself.
Troye Sivan is currently on tour with Kim Petras, and it is a show we cannot recommend enough. If you need any further convincing, just check out his nostalgia-laden music video for “1999,″ featuring Charli XCX.