He was born in South Africa and raised in Australia, but really, Troye Sivan comes from the Internet. The 20-year-old singer/songwriter/actor built his brand on YouTube — where he outed himself as gay to millions of subscribers in 2013 — and now makes post-genre pop for the Spotify set. Following the EPs Wild and TRXYE (both of which hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200), Blue Neighbourhood features soft-touch synths and booming drum machines worthy of the next Lorde or Taylor Swift record. (The canned “Hey!” exclamations on “Wild” and “Fools” are straight out of the latter’s “Bad Blood.”) In lieu of originality, Sivan sells vulnerability, using his choirboy voice to detail the scary thrill of sex on “Bite,” the rush of fame on “Cool” and the cruelty of the silent treatment on “The Quiet.” Lana Del Rey producer Emile Haynie adds epic sweep to “Talk Me Down,” a power ballad about simply wanting to sleep next to someone. “I’m just some dumb kid trying to kid myself that I’ve got my shit together,” sings Sivan on “Lost Boy.” Despite his millions of online followers, he’s still finding his way.
Listen to Troye Sivan and other artists featured in this week’s issue of Billboard.
This story originally appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of Billboard.