Review of Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighborhood

This winter break I became obsessed with YouTube for a variety of reasons. Too much time on my hands and a desire to learn about myself being possibly the primary ones. In doing so, I discovered the YouTube star and all-around talent Troye Sivan. Finding myself eager to support him in his endeavors outside of YouTube, I used a Target gift card I received for Christmas to purchase the Deluxe, Target edition of Blue Neighborhood.
Which has been in my CD player in my car ever since.
Needless to say this is a decision I do not regret.
So I thought I would review a few of the reasons as to why I have been addicted to this album for two months.
One of those reasons is simply I think it is good music. Overall, the album has a coherent sound. The songs move from one to the next seamlessly, flowing at a generally upbeat pace with soothing electronic waves overlaid. One might find this monotonous but Sivan injects enough variety, often with guest artists, to still make each song feel fresh and unique.
I could review the album song-by-song, but I’ll keep it to the highlights. A few of his songs have a tragic streak such as the poignant conclusion to the Blue Neighborhood trilogy, Talk Me Down. But others such as Bite and Wild, are fun and exhibit the artist’s youth (not to mention his song, Youth).
To me the pinnacle of the album is Heaven featuring Betty Who. The lyrics reflect a personal tension I’ve felt as a man trying to navigate the bounds of my identity as a gay Christian.
“All my time is wasted/Feeling like my heart’s mistaken, oh/So if I’m losing a piece of me/Maybe I don’t want heaven?”
And it is these lyrics and Troye’s insistence throughout the album to use the pronouns that he identifies with that I most appreciate about the album. It would be easy for a young, gay artist to minimize that part of his identity. Going back to my last post, representation is important. Seeing Troye representing a part of my identity that isn’t usually prominent in mainstream media is refreshing. It gives me confidence in myself. I feel more comfortable in my identity as a result.
I think the next post I do should be more “academic” in nature. So I will either attempt to summarize and review a piece of research or present a piece of my own research.

In Case You Didn’t Believe Me

I am obsessed with Beyoncé. I even included it in my Bio. So I decided, let’s talk about Beyoncé.

She’s a pretty popular topic right now, so I thought I would weigh in. (See her most current video.)

Starting off, the video for Formation is a piece of art. Beautifully shot and produced, the outfits and compositions belong in museums. Each moment is captured with an intensity and attention to detail that is unusual to find in mainstream culture and art these days. This video was made for a purpose, obviously. It is historical and current. It is beauty and grit. It is Beyoncé.

And the song itself is also a piece of art. It is much deeper and more complex than the usual pop song, referencing documentaries and other artists alike. Formation lingers for a while with that twanging sound providing the primary driving force. Finally, we arrive at the climax, the queen repeating the mantra “I slay”, a powerful and empowering phrase, pushing the song harder and farther.

She is pulling no punches with this release.

Which leads me to what I appreciate about Beyoncé most. She has a position of great power and influence and she is using it to its advantage. She has wealth and beauty, but she isn’t squandering these resources. She is giving back- to charity, to her community, and to the public at large.

Someday I hope to emulate that tenacity and honesty through my career as a scholar and professor. I never want to sacrifice my morals or beliefs for my job or in my life again.

I will be in a position of some influence and I want to be able to use that to support equal rights and education. And I believe I can do that through both parts of my profession- through teaching and mentorship with students but also through scholarship.

The second area, my scholarship, is what I’m trying to figure out as I’m moving forward in my PhD program. I know of a few scholars who study LGBTQ+ issues in public administration and policy (Greg Lewis at Georgia State being possibly the most prominent) and hope to contribute to this literature someday. Luckily I have resources in professors who are very interested in representation who could be able to support me in these endeavors.

It took me this long to understand how important representation is. Seeing Beyoncé’s video helped me realize that. Listening to Troye Sivan’s album Blue Neighborhood helped me realize that (which a review of might be my next post). Representation is important because even if change at an institutional level is slow (something all political scientists know) it can lead to very immediate, important, internal changes for individuals. Just seeing someone who represents me or someone who represents the ideals I believe in has made me more comfortable in myself and the beliefs I hold dear.

Noise in the Void

As far as this blog goes, I have no misconceptions that I’m not just another voice in the crowd creating noise in the void. However, recently, I’ve learned the power of putting yourself out there and taking risks. It can be really helpful for others. Additionally, it can be a powerful process personally. So that’s what I hope to do with this blog: to be a noise in the void, a slightly louder voice in the crowd, for myself and for others.