The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good, especially now that we’re all staying home for the foreseeable future. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
Karol G & Anuel AA: “Follow”
We all have that Instagram crush that we admire from afar because we feel that they’re inaccessible. Maybe they have a partner that they take robed hotel selfies with, or their follower count is larger than some smaller states — either way, sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and go after what feels right in your heart. Karol G and Anuel AA, reggaeton’s hottest couple, have released a new collab called “Follow” that speaks to this feeling. This blushing, bouncy invitation for romance questions when it’s right to shoot your shot. With an accompanying video that shows the pair having a good time in a cozy house to pass these socially isolated times, you can’t help but wonder if this track is inspired by their own relationship. —Trey Alston
Yaeji: “What We Drew 우리가 그려왔던”
Yesterday, chameleonic music maker Yaeji released her debut full-length project, What We Drew 우리가 그려왔던, but it’s hardly an arrival. She’s been around for the past five years, conjuring trap and house and downbeat electronic, not to mention shrouding Drake songs in clouds of mist. Her latest is anchored by its title track, a wonderfully meditative ode to friends and family who support you and walk beside you in both good times and bad. While they might not be able to do that physically at the moment, they’re not going anywhere, and there’s always FaceTime. (Or you could befriend a magic onion, as Yaeji does in the song’s wonderful video.) —Patrick Hosken
Dua Lipa: “Break My Heart”
If you’re looking to break up the monotony of your days in self-isolation with a brand new pop bop, Dua Lipa’s got you covered. Yes, “Break My Heart” is about being stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of heartbreak, but who cares? The song’s groovy bassline and bouncy beat will only bring more joy and energy to your days at home. Plus, the chorus includes a revelation that’s pertinent to us all as we continue to practice social distancing: “I should’ve stayed at home,” she sings. And though she was referring to yet another relationship gone wrong, it’s still great advice. Now more than ever. —Jordyn Tilchen
Amber Mark: “Heart-Shaped Box” (Nirvana cover)
Amber Mark took Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” and made it distinctly her own. This soulful take’s cooing voices and Mark’s own deep timbre ride the booming synth from start to finish. Its video is a reminder that, amidst this social isolation due to COVID-19, we can still have fun. Wearing a mask, she dances sensually around her house, safe and sexy at the same time. —Trey Alston
Lady Gaga: “G.U.Y.”
The measure of a good pop song is the kind of world it can take its listener to. Is there any better way to practice escapism than with a bop from Gaga’s most controversial album, Artpop? “G.U.Y.” is nothing short of an electro-pop power bottom anthem. With nods to Greek gods and a claim that the retweet symbol looks like everyone’s favorite numbered sexual position, it’s impossible to not feel sexy and empowered listening to this. Not even 15 seconds in, “G.U.Y.” will have you strutting up and down your hallway like it’s Fashion Week. Try not to stomp too hard — don’t want any complaints from your neighbors! —Dan McKenna
The Cramps: “New Kind of Kick”
“I could better myself / If I could only find some new kind of kick / Something I ain’t had / Some new kind of buzz / I wanna go hog mad.” These lyrics essentially summarize my thoughts upon waking every day I’ve spent in isolation from the outside world. I’m looking for something new and exciting to happen, but I know there isn’t much on the way, especially when I’m relegated to the items in my home while trying desperately to adhere to my everyday schedule. Like Lux Interior of the legendary Cramps, I too am looking for a new kind of kick, or at least something to electrify me enough until the situation the world is facing currently has been at least somewhat mitigated. The silver lining? Anyone reading this should have the time to sift through The Cramps’s discography, and I highly suggest doing so. —Brittany Vincent
Cleo Sol: “Her Light”
Give me a more poignant opening line than this: “So many things are changing / I’m in a world that’s breaking my heart.” Bleak as that may sound, “Her Light” — the closing track from Cleo Sol’s new album Rose in the Dark — is a twinkling, vintage-sounding slice of R&B that’ll fill the Solange-sized hole in your heart. The British-Jamaican singer rides a soulful groove as she finds the silver lining in her changing universe: “Without the night, the sun couldn’t show you her light, her light, her light, her light.” Sonically, it’s timeless; emotionally, it’s as timely as they come. —Madeline Roth
Chai: “No More Cake”
Japanese quartet Chai’s latest single is dripping with attitude like frosting melting off a cake — quite literally, if you watch the video. The song may be about how “Wearing makeup shouldn’t be based on the orders of someone else,” according to a statement from the group, but the band’s high-pitched singing over a heavy industrial beat will leave you feeling good about feeling bad, which is pretty much all anyone can ask for right now. —Bob Marshall
Steve Burns: “Mighty Little Man”
Here’s a true story: After he vacated Blue’s Clues hosting duties in 2002, Steve Burns made an album with Flaming Lips virtuoso Steven Drozd and expansive super-producer David Fridmann in a snowy rural town in Western New York. That album, Songs for Dustmites, absolutely rules, and its opener, “Mighty Little Man” is one to reach for when you need a little triumph in your life. “Nobody else is stronger than I am,” Burns sings. “Yesterday I moved a mountain.” The partnership continued — in 2017, Steve and Steven released an album of all children’s music made for exultation in the minor victories of potty training and learning new things. But there’s nothing quite like the fierce courage of “Mighty Little Man,” heightened by Drozd’s colossal drum explosions, in an ever-darkening time. —Patrick Hosken
The Wonders: “That Thing You Do!”
Adam Schlesinger, who died from coronavirus complications earlier this week, wrote a ton of memorable power-pop anthems with his band Fountains of Wayne and for other bands like The Click Five and the Jonas Brothers over his all-too-brief life. But while the thought made me tear up even more at the news of his passing, I decided to re-watch the 1996 Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do! on Wednesday night in Schlesinger’s memory.
Among Adam’s musical contributions to the movie is the title track that turns a fictional group of nobodies from Erie, Pennsylvania into America’s hottest boy band, and what a challenge it must have been to write! How do you craft a song that sounds like it was realistically written in the mid-’60s while also making modern audiences watching the movie want to hear it four or five times over the course of the film’s 108-minute runtime? But Schlesinger did just that, creating a song that actually charted three decades after it fictionally was supposed to, and with good reason.
My favorite part of it, outside of the loud and “too fast” drum intro that makes all the plaid and poodle skirt-wearing teens hit the dance floor, is the way the chorus and bridge lean minor, a sort of homage to the lovelorn doo-wop that no doubt influenced Schlesinger’s lyrics. (“Well I try and try to forget you girl / But it’s just so hard to do.”) He knew that a memorable chorus doesn’t have to be major or minor all the way through, and whenever the vocalist laments, as in Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom” (“Stacy can’t you see? You’re just not the girl for me”), it’s perfectly fine for a pop banger to sound a little sad. —Bob Marshall
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