Courtesy of the artist
This is the story of a boy… who reimagined a hit song from the early aughts as a love letter to his younger self.
In reality, Jordy, 27, is hardly a boy. The openly gay singer-songwriter has been releasing music since 2017, steadily building a repertoire of hooky, sweet-sounding pop songs. His debut album, Mind Games, dropped in 2021, and he’s collaborated with fellow rising indie-pop acts like Joy Oladokun, Emma Løv, and Loote. He even nabbed a nomination for Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards.
Today, Jordy proudly infuses his queerness into his music and personal brand (hello, poppers-themed merch!), but it wasn’t always easy for him to embrace his authentic self. “I'm at the age where you start thinking about those childhood experiences that you buried for a while, especially as a queer person,” he tells MTV News on a phone call from his Los Angeles apartment. “And one of those things that every queer person can relate to is, there wasn't a lot of music that we really heard ourselves in when we were younger.”
What Jordy did hear growing up was a seemingly endless supply of explicitly heterosexual love songs — including “Absolutely (Story of a Girl),” the first and only hit song from Long Island-based pop-rock trio Nine Days. The track debuted as a single nearly 23 years ago. Its vivid chorus and infectious melody secured it the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart in the United States, and a permanent soft spot in the hearts of late-‘90s kids like Jordy.
“It came back into my realm recently,” Jordy recalls, “and I was like, how do I make this my own? Can I make this my own? Can this be an homage to my younger queer self, who didn’t have lots of guys to listen to who were gay and singing about other guys?” The song is simple, which is exactly why it appealed to him. “Like, this is exactly what we needed as queer kids. We just wanted to hear a love song from our perspective.”
Enter “Story of a Boy,” Jordy’s interpolation of Nine Days’ nostalgic bop, out today (January 26). The song unfolds a relatable tale of a young guy “who’s holdin’ back the tears in his eyes” as he silently pines over another boy. “He doesn't know my name / But I could give much more,” Jordy croons in the pre-chorus. “And it's such a shame / I’m sure you've heard it all before.”
The gender reversal in the chorus is his most obvious update, but subtle touches from producers Johnny Shore and Keith Barron — a poppy guitar here, a layered vocal harmony there — also make “Story of a Boy” sound more contemporary. “Obviously people will know it's a sample because they’ll recognize the melody,” Jordy says, “but it was important for us to give it that modern, pop twist. We wanted it to live on its own.”
Even so, it took some convincing for Jordy and his collaborators to get the green light from Nine Days. Speaking to MTV News from his native Long Island, John Hampson, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, recalls writing “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” about his then-girlfriend, who wanted to get engaged before he was ready to pop the question. She is now his wife. “Over the years, there have been requests to do things with the song,” says the 51-year-old musician and high school English teacher, “and my first instinct is to be protective.”
Prior to Jordy, no artist has ever been granted permission to release an interpolation of “Absolutely (Story of a Girl).” But there was something different about “Story of a Boy,” Hampson recalls. The concept felt unique and sincere, so when the song came across Hampson’s desk, he agreed to listen to a demo. After spinning more of Jordy’s music, he was totally on board and humbled that a track he wrote decades ago “gets to have a second life.”
“When I first met Jordy in person, he came over, hugged me, and told me what [‘Story of a Girl’] meant to him — not just as a song, but what it meant to him to be able to change it to ‘Story of a Boy.’ And that hit me,” Hampson explains. “This is really deeper than some three-minute pop song. There's a bigger meaning here that I think is fantastic.”
Jordy invited Hampson to make a cameo in the “Story of a Boy” music video, which tributes Nine Days’ own visuals with a similar opening image of a band jamming in a garage. We then see footage of Jordy selling some childhood possessions out of that same garage, intercut with glimpses of Jordy’s younger self playing with another boy he clearly likes. It’s an appropriately nostalgic vibe for a new take on a familiar bop; it also helps keep “(Absolutely) Story of a Girl” in the contemporary conversation, along with a recent subtle shout-out in top Oscar contender Everything Everywhere All At Once, where Ke Huy Quan's character recites two lyrics from the song's pre-chorus.
Does Jordy think “Story of a Boy” will score him some new listeners? “That’s the goal!” he says, especially with his second album, Boy, slated to drop April 21.
He teases that the new record contains “more bops and maybe a power ballad,” with introspection and self-acceptance as its biggest thematic through-lines. “It’s a collection of songs about my experiences over the past year and a half — learning about different parts of myself, finally moving on from a relationship, really digging into this relationship I have with myself.”
And of course, it’s a Jordy project, so it will be unapologetically queer. “Putting out music as a queer artist is a form of protest,” he says, “and I’m OK with that because I want to be speaking up for our community.”
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