"Absolutely (Story of a Girl)" remains Nine Days' only mainstream hit, but it's understandable why it broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in 2000, peaking at number 6. The song created a bridge between the growing power of bumble-gum pop at the turn of the millennium and the lingering alt-rock sensibilities of the 90s. In fact, the track sounds like it could have just as easily been released in 1996 as in 2000, playing as comfortably alongside Counting Crows and Fiona Apple as N'Sync and Mandy Moore.
This breakthrough single works as a character sketch of a woman who faces disappointment and change, but, despite her sadness, looks--and this is the feel good part--beautiful and lovable when she smiles. The chorus, "This is the story of a girl / Who cried a river and drowned the whole world / And while she looks so sad in photographs / I absolutely love her / When she smiles," is wonderfully set over drums and electric guitars. The song also benefits from its break-neck pace, which allows it's rock aesthetic to be layered over what is essentially a piece of power-pop. Though the subject matter is dour--the difficulties of adulthood, crashed dreams, heartbreak, and breakups--the production and grinning performance play that excellent pop trick of dreary lyrics placed in a joyful setting--one so exuberant and sweet that it could play alongside 2000's boy-bands and pop princesses.
While Nine Days may have receded into obscurity, they should be recognized for their contributions to pop music: they helped radio integrate pop and rock sounds in a new way for the new millennium, anticipating and paving the way for pop-punk and power-pop acts. Arguably, they helped prepare listeners for performers like Avril Lavigne, Hellogoodbye, and Ashley Simpson, who took their cues as much from 90s singer-songwriters as from pop divas like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.