Let’s stop running from pop: Troye Sivan and what makes popular music great

Pop music isn’t typically a genre that music critics spend much time meditating on. For music experts, mainstream pop music is at most a guilty pleasure, if not totally despised. It usually doesn’t offer the musicality of other genres and is therefore deemed as unappealing. 

I claim that popular music is chronically misunderstood. 
Pop music doesn’t have to be complex. The scope of popular music is not necessarily to be musically challenging but to be relatable. It has to be simple enough so that each and every listener can find his or her own meaning in it. So to a certain degree, popular music reflects the zeitgeist and the young generation’s taste, dreams, and fears. The artist’s identity in pop music is crucial for the listening experience, as the music oftentimes is much more personal and autobiographical. While in heavy metal, for instance, you could listen to a band for years and never even know how the band members look like, this doesn’t work in pop music.

But there is a twist. Fake music won’t catch on, or will at least vanish quickly. It has to exude candor despite heavy editing in the studio. A great song without a message and/or an outstanding artist performing it won’t persist, and casting show winners who more or less act as instruments for famous jury members won’t either. If pop music is genuine, it is valuable. And there is no better example to support my claim than singer Troye Sivan.

The charming Australian is currently being tipped as the new gay icon, and his looks undoubtedly play a big role in this. Mostly importantly, though, Sivan is already a well-rounded artist at a quite young age, and this is because he doesn’t seem to present anything else to the public than his true personality – a refreshing and sustainable approach to art in this day and age. This is exactly the core of Sivan’s second album “Bloom”. Underneath well-known rhythmic patterns, simple yet effective melodies and a distinct 80s retro vibe lies an exceptional amount of love for music and storytelling, paired with a sense for perfectionism that goes beyond the technical side of music. And above the mostly laid-back electronic pop songs hovers a sense of very invigorating, universal confidence. And that is precisely what makes so many tracks absolutely irresistible: they are a reflection of Troye Sivan’s deep-rooted self-assurance.
“Bloom” invites the listener to allow feelings of dyed-in-the-wool love, heartbreak that is not glorified and feathery daydreaming and to simply have a good time on his terms.

Sivan’s music videos underline this atmosphere. Containing a healthy portion of self-irony, they are showing the singer dancing lightheartedly or being in love, as seen in “Lucky Strike” or “Dance To This”. All this combined sends off a very reassuring sense of peace, that everything will, in fact, be fine at the end of the day – no more and no less what our anxiety-infested generation needs.

Then again we see Sivan playing with extravagant make-up and fashion in the video for the single “Bloom” and with that continuing to redefine how men are and aren’t allowed to look like. 

If you don’t believe that pop music can be any more than uninspired lyrics and computer-generated beats, you haven’t been listening to the right artists.

Change that now and let yourself be enchanted.

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