In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.
In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.
50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #34: Troye Sivan (by Tim Nelson of Cub Sport)
In 2014 I was still years away from coming out, and I remember seeing Troye owning who he is and finding freedom. I really admired that, because at that point I felt like I would never be able to do the same thing myself. When “My My My!” came out – the first Troye song I was truly obsessed with – it felt like a real moment for a queer artist crossing over into the mainstream, where it wasn’t just queer people that were celebrating it. It was so undeniable.
Artists like Troye break down walls for queer artists to follow in their footsteps, but he also has this level of artistry. Troye takes risks, he pushes boundaries. He’s in a position where it would be easy to make safe, accessible pop music and follow a line, but he did the opposite of that with the incredible In a Dream EP. That’s something I really strive to do with Cub Sport.
“Troye is undoubtedly one of the great pop stars of our generation.”
To watch Troye Sivan flourish so fearlessly on a global scale, and continuously evolve his sound with each release fills me with pride. Troye represents a progressive positioning for queer artists. People don’t talk about Troye because he’s gay, they don’t talk about him being gay, they talk about the beautiful music that he makes and how talented he is. That is, hopefully, where we’re heading. Where the representation is a given, and it isn’t something that needs to be pointed out. It can just be celebrated because the art is amazing.
Troye is undoubtedly one of the great pop stars of our generation, but for me he was also part of the reason I decided that I needed to embrace who I am, to really be proud of the person and artist that I am.
50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #34: Troye Sivan (by Gordi)
Vulnerability and candidness are Troye Sivan’s greatest assets. With them, he has manoeuvred through youth and surfaced an unflinching popstar, emblazoned with all the integrity he has tirelessly built his career on.
Blue Neighbourhood, Sivan’s debut record released in 2015, cemented him as a truly authentic artist. The heart-wrenching complexity of a young queer relationship and its intersection with family is mapped impenitently in songs like “Talk Me Down”. To watch the accompanying video almost feels like an invasion of privacy, though for any individual that has felt a similar pain, it feels like the safest place on earth.
In 2018 came his second studio album, Bloom, and with it a new era of Troye Sivan was born. The complete obliteration of stereotypes and abundant self-acceptance woven through the record leaves behind the notion that living is just about survival. And while “My My My!” can be counted among the greatest stadium-worthy pop songs of all time, it is the substance of Sivan’s stories that linger.
“Vulnerability and candidness are Troye Sivan’s greatest assets.”
In 2020, his evolution continued with the release of the In a Dream EP; a unique and cathartic display of songwriting that seems his most intimate yet. In Sivan’s arsenal is his ability to take the personal and make it shared.
Like many, I came to know Troye via the internet. He tweeted about a song I had written. My Twitter account, which normally has an almost undetectable level of traffic, was blown up by his adoring fans, causing the application to freeze and shut down on my phone. When we finally met in person a year later, we wrote a song together and called it “Postcard”.
“And my hopes, they are high” for a time when a “coming out” video seems quaint and irrelevant. But when Troye Sivan boldly made the declaration to the world via the internet in 2013 – it was a lifeline. Emerging onto the world stage as a YouTuber teen, the weight of Troye Sivan’s words captured an audience waiting to be seen. He has since become the fierce, unapologetic voice of a generation.
These days you are more likely to find Sivan on a stage somewhere around the world with Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande, rather than appearing on his YouTube channel from his childhood bedroom. And yet, still with him are all those he has made feel seen. Only now there are millions more and he is an international superstar. His visibility is a parachute.