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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. 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.
Foster The People: “Style”
“Style” finds Foster singing with the swagger and bravado that we all wish we had. It’s almost as if he set out to channel Adam and the Ants’s “Stand and Deliver” with a clearer verse delivery than we’ve ever heard from the band. There’s a confidence that slices through the sleazy synths and beckons you to sway along with all the confidence you summon up when you sing in the shower, or in an empty hallway to hear your voice echo. The end of the second verse is when I know the track’s anthemic vibes ramp up to a fever pitch: “Well, the sweetest revenge is being set free / You can’t take it from me, yeah.”
“Style” isn’t a song so much as a realm I’m immediately transported to, where the song isn’t just blaring from my car stereo as I cruise into the supermarket parking lot with my stunner shades on. Instead, I’m the star of my own music video, strutting down the street with a growing legion of fans behind me, swinging a bat and beckoning to all comers: “Don’t like me? Good. Take me out in style.” The world’s looking at me – and I don’t care. “If you’re gonna love me, love me in style,” Foster proclaims near the end, and I can envision a sly grin etching itself across my face as I’m lifted off the ground, much like Björk at the end of her “It’s Oh So Quiet” video. My hair billows around me as I’m clad in a Saint Laurent leather jacket, Insta-worthy makeup, and a mischievous glint in my eye. This could be my last night on Earth, but I’m going to go down the same way I lived: fabulously. —Brittany Vincent
Kelsy Karter: “What U”
Yes, Kelsy Karter is the one who got a huge Harry Styles tattoo on her face a few weeks back. Turns out it was fake (whew!), and part of a wild publicity stunt to promote her song “Harry.” It worked — the track quickly racked up over a million views on YouTube, and the 24-year-old’s follow-up single could be just as big. “What U” takes its cue from cool ’60s rock — not unlike Styles’s own solo fare — and hinges on Karter’s confident, taunting attitude. “Said goodbye to my ex / Are you gonna be next? / What are you gonna do?” she wails over grungy, distorted guitars. She’s egging on some dawdling dude, but the self-proclaimed “blue-eyed rock&roll lady rebel” is also daring you to take her seriously. “Whatcha gonna do about it?!” —Madeline Roth
Stray Kids: “19”
I went back and forth over which song from Stray Kids‘s latest album, Clé 1: MIROH, to include on this week’s list. In fact, I started writing this with “Victory Song” in mind — a confident, in-your-face track with an explosive EDM hook that boasts the kind of big energy we’ve come to expect from the young Korean group. It’s a song that quite literally commands you to listen. But as I was writing it, album closer “19” started to play… and here we are.
Written by rapper Han last year, “19” is a moody hip-hop track about being, well, 19 — more specifically, that confusing moment in a young person’s life when you simultaneously want to grow up and stop time; you yearn to linger in your teenage years for a just little while longer because the thought of being an “adult” is honestly terrifying. (In Korea, the legal age is 19.) “Twenty years old that I wanted to become so badly,” Han raps. “Did everybody go through this same experience or am I the only one that’s anxious?”
Stray Kids’s greatest strength as a group — other than the fact they primarily write and produce their own music, led by members Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han — is their ability to candidly speak to their generation directly. They can relate to these coming-of-age emotions and anxieties because the nine members are on the cusp of adulthood themselves. So it’s no mistake that an album full of turn-up anthems and bold statements ends with “19.” It’s deeply reflective, yet speaks to their limitless potential. And it puts things into perspective for the group: Dreams that once felt unattainable are finally within their reach. —Crystal Bell
Sky Ferreira: “Downhill Lullaby”
When I listen to Sky Ferreira‘s latest single, “Downhill Lullaby,” I’m sinking into the sunken place. Not from racism, of course, but the endless black void without any cushion in sight. It’s large and somber, yet intimate and theatrical. It’s her first solo single in more than six years and, according to her words in her recent Pitchforkcover story, the delay was largely because she wanted to perfect her message — that she be the ultimate judge of the quality of her music, not some label big wigs relying on the next wave from algorithms. Ferreira’s mindset is what makes “Downhill Lullaby” so thrilling because it sounds unfinished. Frazzled. Tattered. Ferreira’s wounded vocals are only the icing on the cake. Her caterwauling is sincere and as warming as it is haunting. And it’s addicting. The wait for her forthcoming album, Masochism, will be a difficult one, indeed. —Trey Alston
THICK: “Green Eyes”
Brooklyn-based all-female trio THICK just released their second EP this week, and it’s chock full of loud guitars and catchy melodies that make for pop-punk perfection. Lead single “Green Eyes” focuses on a relationship caught up in emotional baggage, and though the track is certainly heavy, it never feels weighed down. And, as its accompanying music video proves, there’s no better way to celebrate the end of an exhausting relationship than with a messy champagne party. —Bob Marshall
Mikal Cronin: “Undertow”
California’s Mikal Cronin has three albums of beautiful garage-pop under his belt — four if you count his noisy excursion with trusted collaborator Ty Segall. This year, Cronin is back with another slice of hooky heaven, a crunchy Neil Young-esque number called “Undertow” featuring notable contributions from psych-guitar maestro William Tyler and moony singer-songwriter Shannon Lay. That’s all stage-setting. Crank “Undertow” up and hear how they replicate its powerful namesake current with sudden scuzzy bursts across five minutes of soul-searching. “This felt good,” Cronin wrote to accompany the song’s release. Imagine how it feels on the receiving end. —Patrick Hosken
Sir Babygirl: “Pink Lite”
Sir Babygirl starts this ’90s-reminiscent track off with a statement, “I smoke too much for a nonsmoker,” letting the words roll off her tongue matter-of-factly and simultaneously placing herself in the running for pop’s coolest lyric of the year. A gravelly guitar riff underscores a mist of inhales and the all-too-familiar narrative of heading home alone, when desperation gives way. With little precursor to the impending emotion explosion, she screams, “So pull me outside / Give me the drag of my life,” and a rogue drum machine and cascading vocals transform the chorus into a plea for connection and a moment to breathe. It’s the kind of angst you’d expect from the closing credits of a coming-of-age film, with the kind of introspection you only get once you realize we never stop growing up. Put your pink lighters in the air if you feel this one, folks. —Carson Mlnarik
Middle Kids: “Real Thing”
If you need to get really deep in your feels as you consider un-cuffing from your winter boo, this may be the song for you. The lead single off of Australian alt-rock trio Middle Kids’s upcoming EP, “Real Thing” is all about that super anxious point in a relationship when you’re wondering if you’ve found what you’re looking for, and wondering if your partner is feeling the same way. Recommended if you like loud guitars and Paula Cole. —Bob Marshall
British singer-songwriter Szjerdene is a master storyteller with an airy voice that is as ethereal as it is buttery. Her third solo EP Trace is an entrancing blend of the addictive bass commonly found in house music, paired with the soft calming tones of lo-fi, and the somber romance that only classical music can provide — violins, in particular. Her new single “Rain” adds a rosy tint to the angst of new love by layering emotionally dense lyrics over a beat you can groove (and wail) to, because one thing’s for certain: By the end of the track, you’ll definitely be harmonizing on the “Oh-oh-oh, I’m fallin'” hook. —Virginia Lowman