Review Summary: 500,000 people own a copy of this album. I think that says enough.The Long Island Sound: A Reflection on Suburban New York’s Musical History – Part 7
”This is the story of a girl who cried a river and drowned the whole world.”
To be quite honest, aside from that one iconic sentence, the boys of Nine Days left no impact on the musical world. The early 2000s gave us a plethora of pop-rock one-hit wonders. The likes of Vertical Horizon, The Calling, Evan and Jaron, Fountains of Wayne and Wheatus all had their day in the limelight before quickly disappearing back into the ether. Nine Days definitely fell into the same group, and today, barely anyone still remembers that name. However, they do remember “the guys who did that ‘Story of a Girl’ song”, which speaks volumes about their legacy.
Formed in 1994 by lead singer John Hampson and Brian Desveaux in Long Island, the album that spawned “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”, The Madding Crowd
was the band’s fourth overall and first on a major label. Despite poor chart performance, it coasted to a gold certification within half a year due to the immense success of its lead single. “Story of a Girl” was
undoubtedly, a huge hit, peaking at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the Mainstream Top 40 chart. To this day, it’s still included in early 2000s nostalgia playlists and represents the music of that time period pretty well. Yeah, it’s pretty sappy and uninteresting, but at the same time, it’s catchy and there’s a little charm behind all of the cheese. It’s a harmless power pop anthem that at worst is clichéd and fun to jam out to at best.
Despite “Story of a Girl”’s success, Nine Days were always destined to be a one-hit wonder no matter what they picked to follow it up. There was just nothing special about them that would keep listeners piqued for new material, and so they faded into the background with all the other bands that sounded just like them. Internet music critic Todd in the Shadows once said about Nine Days, “Sometimes a one-hit wonder is just an act with one hit, nothing weird about it, and it's hard to imagine a band more stupefyingly normal than this one”. They weren’t offensively horrible, nor were they anything interesting; they were just there
, which in the end would lead to their quick demise.
The Madding Crowd
, like Nine Days as a whole, is completely unmemorable and woefully generic. It’s twelve tracks of “you’ve-heard-it-all-before” pop rock without any ounce of originality or substance. “If I Am”. the successor to “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”, is ripped straight from the Goo Goo Dolls’ how-to manual for writing ballads, while “Back to Me” has all the elements of a late 90s alt-rock crossover hit. Just like the Goo Goo Dolls, Nine Days have two vocalists – the smooth, silky-voiced John Hampson and the rough, jagged stylings of Brian Desveaux. However, Robbie Takic didn’t step up to the mic all that often, whereas Desveaux gets more than half of the runtime to himself. Towards the end of the album, there are a pair of six-minute long songs that are both sung by him, and they manage to be two of the more enjoyable tracks here. The first, “Bitter”, incorporates strings and even a sliver of emo influence, while the other, “Wanna Be”, closes out the album on a slow, lounge-type mood. Overall, Hampson may have a cleaner voice, but the songs he sings on are just too safe to be enjoyable.
Nine Days might have named themselves after the period of time they were successful for, to paraphrase Todd, so an album like The Madding Crowd
should be a reassurance. A reassurance of what
", you might ask. Well, it’s pretty simple. The dull, generic nature of most songs not titled “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” reassures us that we really didn’t miss out on much by not getting a second hit from them. Were Nine Days a terrible band" No, not even close. They just had no personality, were completely inoffensive and blended in easily with their contemporaries. Add that all up and the recipe for a one-hit wonder is complete. Turns out people only cared about the girl's story, and not the band's.
PART VIII: Take my memories of her with you.