Jordy, pop star from Northbrook, gives 2000 hit a queer update with ‘Story of a Boy’

Former Glenbrook North theater kid inspires transgender TikTok campaign with his take on the Nine Days hit ‘Absolutely (Story of a Girl).’

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Jordy (pictured earlier this month at Chicago’s House of Blues) says the songs on his new album “Boy” resulted from his experiences as a kid.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

At the heart of Jordy’s new album “Boy” is an artist reframing his childhood through song. Over the course of 12 tracks, the local native unravels the layers of his formative years that shape the successful pop star he is today, premiering a video on RollingStone.com, appearing on the “Today” show and getting love from the iHeart Radio Music Awards.

But back when he was growing up in Northbrook, he was just a gifted theater kid in primary school and Glenbrook North, surrounded by classmates including K-pop phenom Johnny Suh of NCT 127 fame and Broadway star Nathan Salstone. And though he praises GBN theater teacher Julie Ann Robinson and choir directors Chad Davidson and Andy Wallace for leading him down the right path, Jordy also carries memories of being bullied and trying to understand his own identity and sexuality.

The studio time for “Boy,” his second-full length album (out April 21 via Elektra Records), dovetailed with his time spent in therapy sessions, and by the end of collecting all the material, he says, “I knew I needed to call the album ‘Boy’ because these are the songs I needed as a kid. They exist because of those experiences I had.”

One of the anchor tracks is a song called “Story of a Boy,” in which Jordy reinterprets the Y2K hit “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” by rock group Nine Days as a modern-day, queer anthem. “I grew up with that song, but there I was, closeted me sitting in the car listening to it, and in my brain I was always shifting the lyrics a bit. Nobody knew in my head I was whispering ‘boy’ to myself instead of ‘girl’ because I knew that’s what made sense to me and what felt natural,” Jordy shares.

The idea came up to take his unique spin on the song and put it on his latest album — and in so doing, Jordy found the full blessing from Nine Days singer and songwriter John Hampson, who also makes a cameo in the music video, which was released in January.

“Honestly it was a very healing experience for me,” Jordy adds. “As a kid I didn’t always feel valid in the rock space, I always felt I was this more feminine, theatrical, flamboyant kid who loved Spice Girls and ’N Sync and found himself really relating to the pop world, but for this rock star to be supporting me, a queer voice and a queer artist, was incredible.”

The song has since taken on a life of its own, adding to Jordy’s lifetime 100 million-plus streams, nabbing him an invite to appear on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” and earning nominations from the GLAAD Media Awards and the Queerty Awards in 2023. It’s also been the catalyst for a watershed moment on TikTok where “Story of a Boy” and its Nine Days predecessor have been used as part of a campaign where transgender people share photos of before and after their transition.

“I still get chills and emotional talking about it,” says Jordy, recalling how the timing of his viral moment came on the heels of Kim Petras becoming the first openly transgender artist to receive a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, honored for her track with Sam Smith, “Unholy.”

“I was sobbing during Kim’s speech,” Jordy shares. “It’s moments like that we need in times like right now, a little sliver of hope to keep moving forward and fighting the good fight, lifting our voices and raising awareness.”

Jordy has even gotten his mom involved, dueting with her on a TikTok video to show an example of parents being supportive for their LGBTQ+ children. She’s also covertly on the album’s title track, on which an audio sample is pulled from a vintage home video.

Jordy’s sister comes up too, in the song “Becky’s Brother” (born out of a heart-to-heart in which the siblings discussed how hard it was for her to grow up in Jordy’s shadow). There’s also the album track “Love You and Let You Go” that talks about the times Jordy and his family and partners would go to Lollapalooza, culminating in the emerging pop star being able to play one of the main stages in 2022.

“My family and I would go every summer. It was a family bonding thing. My whole family loves music and so we’d hear our favorite artists and it was a great way for us to spend time together,” recalls Jordy, who is now based in Los Angeles but still comes home often.

“I remember thinking, ‘I want to be there one day, I want to be on that stage.’ … And when it did happen, I savored every moment. It was one of the most special days of my life and I’ll never forget it. Hopefully I‘ll be back at Lolla, but the first time has some magical element to it that will never be replaced.”

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