In the summer of 2015, Troye Sivan, a twenty-year-old actor, singer, songwriter and Youtuber surprised millions of fans by announcing his new EP WILD, shortly followed by the announcement of his debut album Blue Neighbourhood. Troye kicked off his Youtube career back in 2007 where he uploaded covers until he started making vlogs instead. Whilst he stopped sharing covers, his vlogs quickly made him rise to Internet fame. In 2013, Troye uploaded an original song inspired by the novel ‘The Fault in our Stars’ by author John Green. Only a week after sharing the song with the world Troye was approached by EMI Music Australia who enabled him to publish and launch his now released debut album Blue Neighbourhood.
Troye describes Blue Neighbourhood as his own personal journey. It is an album about identity, acceptance, coming out, love and growing up. The album received great reactions from other artists in his field. Sam Smith for one congratulated him saying that his album is very ‘brave and inspiring.’ Subsequently to the album, Troye published a three music video series for the songs ‘WILD,’ ‘Fools’ and ‘Talk Me Down,’ in which he tackles the difficulties of coming out. The series starts off with the beginning of a romantic relationship between Troye and his childhood friend of the same sex while we’re shown signs of an abusive experience. The video ends where we pick up in part 2, ‘Fools’, with a passionate kiss between Troye and his boyfriend. During their make out session, the boyfriend’s father comes in, kicks Troye out of the house and starts assaulting his son. In the final video, Troye’s ex-boyfriends eventually takes his own life and it becomes clear that Troye is very aware of the reality that many queer people face.
Although the videos are not autobiographical, the struggle of coming out is a very personal topic for the singer. Just a little bit over two years ago Troye uploaded his own coming out video on his Youtube channel: ‘I am terrified. I know that some people are going to have a problem with this. This could kind of change everything for me but it shouldn’t have to.’ Like Troye, I was terrified when I came out. But coming out is only a tiny, tiny part of the long and scary struggle in a world where being queer is still far from being accepted.
However, not all is dark as Troye is making things better. Subsequently, with his coming out video, Troye set up an email account where people can email him with any question they have and in the following years he has made several videos in which he deals with questions such as ‘Is it easier to get aids if you’re gay?’ But it is mainly his music that is having a very positive impact on people in the queer community. Many of his fans have spoken out and said that Troye’s music helped them with their own coming-outs. Even though I came to terms with my own sexuality three years prior, I feel like Blue Neighbourhood helped me to recognise and connect to the feelings attached to my queer related struggle that I hadn’t yet been able to put in words.
One of the first songs I heard on the album is ‘BITE’. For me, this song felt immediately special due to the compelling atmosphere created by its sound. It almost makes one feel as if we are only inches away from that one attractive person and all that’s going through our mind is ‘kiss me on the mouth and set me free’. ‘BITE’ seems to represent some sense of a sexual awakening. Before my coming out I always felt like I was standing on the sideline watching my friends connect with genders from the opposite sex. Only after coming out did I open up my own desire. I finally wanted to kiss someone because it no longer had to be someone from the opposite sex. ‘Kiss me on the mouth and set me free,’ therefore, for me, symbolises a desire that is finally within reach.
‘Heaven’ is another song that particularly hit home. Being unreligious, a song about accepting one’s sexuality in relation to religion doesn’t seem that big of a deal. However, the meaning of the song can be placed in a wider context. ‘If I’m losing a piece of me, maybe I don’t want heaven.’ If I have to give up a part of who I am, maybe I don’t want to live where others don’t accept me for who I am. ‘Heaven’ brought me to a stand still and made me realise once more that it is okay to be gay. I do not have to lose a piece of me. I made the right decision and I can choose to not want ‘heaven’ because I am whom I am.
‘BITE’ and ‘Heaven’ are only two examples of the deep and meaningful lyrics that all of Troye’s lyrics seem to carry. Each individual song tells us a different story. ‘Youth’ is about the joy in naivety while ‘Suburbia’ represents the desire of making the people from back home proud. In a way, Troye’s songs put my soul at ease. His songs do what any other great songs are supposed to. They reconcile with me and let me know that I am not the only one with these feelings. It feels as if Troye is speaking to me- to all of us as he voices our struggles and puts it out for the entire world to hear.
With Blue Neighbourhood, Troye has made a statement. Going back to the music video of ‘WILD’, Troye explained, in an interview with Advocate, that he feels ‘like gay relationships are sexualized in the media,’ and in his video, he aims to show ‘a romantic, adorable, puppy love situation between two little boys.’ ‘WILD’ therefore makes a statement to discard societies’ stereotypes surrounding gay men.
The songs on his album show and tell everyone that at the end of the day, love is love no matter what. Lesbians, gays or bisexuals experience the same romantic feelings as people who are straight. A minor point of critique could be that most of his songs are about heart breaks but this is not at all surprising as love is a very big part of life when growing up. More importantly, anyone that has been young and in love will be able to relate to the songs on this album and that is why everyone should give Blue Neighbourhood a listen.