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 â€” it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. And all March long, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by spotlighting women making music that feels essential to right now.
Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
Tune-Yards: â€œHold Yourself.â€
Poignant but never preachy, â€œHold Yourself.â€ is a deeply empathetic meditation on intergenerational trauma. Itâ€™s also a damn good song, showcasing the layered vocals and rich percussion that make Tune-Yards a reliable standout in the saturated world of indie pop. â€œHold yourself now / You have to hold yourself now,â€ croons singer Merrill Garbus. Coming from anyone else, Iâ€™d find that condescending; from Tune-Yards, it feels comforting. â€”Sam Manzella
A week after his enlistment in the South Korean military, EXO member and multi-instrumentalist Chanyeol has resurfaced with one last parting gift for fans: the smooth, introspective â€œTomorrow.â€ The acoustic track written by the singer himself ruminates on the uncertainty of the future with a refreshing level of honesty and vulnerability that leaves a bittersweet feeling in your chest given its context. â€œWhatâ€™s next? / Will it be the same as now? / Itâ€™s like walking in a tunnel / I feel so anxious,â€ he confesses. â€œTomorrow, Iâ€™ll wait you.â€ With his military discharge date set for next year, we canâ€™t wait until tomorrow comes and Chanyeol makes his return. â€”Emlyn Travis
Dasha: â€œMore Than Thisâ€
Early 2000s nostalgia is in full swing. While singer-songwriter Dashaâ€™s new video for $hiny Things track â€œMore Than Thisâ€ oozes with callbacks to simpler days of Chad Michael Murray and Ashlee Simpson locker posters, its sound is decidedly contemporary. With a bouncing beat and a heavenly flow, the Nashville-based artist goes off on a boyfriend who only wants to â€œHang out / Make out / Order up too much take-out.â€ Her pleading chorus asking for a relationship thatâ€™s â€œmore than thisâ€ is exceptionally sticky and relatable, whether youâ€™re binge-watching early Sex and the City episodes or dealing with a modern romance. But the shout-out to mango Trulyâ€™s seltzer has me especially glad to be listening to this bop in 2021. â€”Carson Mlnarik
Chiiild ft. Mahalia: â€œAwakeâ€
Montreal experimental soul band Chiiildâ€™s latest track, â€œAwake,â€ features English singer Mahalia, and plays like a dream â€” one set at a vintage roller rink with your lover. A steady baseline paired with a synthesizer and breathy vocals make the track almost otherworldly. Think Roll Bounce meets modern fever dream. Itâ€™s simultaneously nostalgic and current with lines that reference aughts-era classics like Nelly and Kelly Rowlandâ€™s 2002 R&B hit â€œDilemma.â€ Itâ€™s as easy to play as it is to get lost in. â€”Virginia Lowman
St. Vincent: â€œThe Melting of the Sunâ€
St. Vincent continues her descent as a groovy rock goddess with a trippy new track, â€œThe Melting of the Sun,â€ off her upcoming album, Daddyâ€™s Home. Over the course of the psychedelic single, St. Vincent shouts out influential female musicians that came before her, including Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, and Tori Amos. Any song that gives props to the red-headed â€™90s piano siren is a certified bop in my book. And make sure to check out the colorful animated music video, which reads like an episode of Schoolhouse Rock. Obsessed. â€”Chris Rudolph
AJ Mitchell: â€œStopâ€
Listening to AJ Mitchell’s latest single might bring on brief but welcome flashbacks to late 2017, when the pop singer Kim Petras’s breakout single “I Don’t Want It At All” filled the airwaves. Both tracks feature impossibly catchy, repetitive refrains about things the artists do and don’t want â€” though that’s probably about all they have in common. Rather than a high-octane banger, “Stop,” true to its title, slows things down to a steady pulse. Mitchell climbs the scales, then rides them back down, making for a sensuous jam primed for the beat of the bedroom. â€”Coco Romack
Wendy: â€œLike Waterâ€
Red Velvetâ€™s Wendy made her debut as a solo artist this week with â€œLike Water,â€ an ethereal acoustic ballad that compares the free-flowing nature of the liquid to healing, everlasting love. â€œMy love is like water / Filling your sore spots,â€ she sings. â€œIt covers the deep wounds and embraces you tightly / It makes you rise again.â€ Finding beauty in simplicity, the stripped-back tune allows Wendyâ€™s soaring vocals to take center stage as she effortlessly flits from delicate humming to phenomenal high notes. Cool, clear, and cleansing, â€œLike Waterâ€ is a refreshing, thirst-quenching new start for the singer. â€”Emlyn Travis
Darren Criss: â€œF*kn Aroundâ€
From Glee pop to hypnotizing Les Mis covers, Darren Criss has established himself as a multifaceted actor and performer. His newest single unearths another side still, a bad boy with a bone to pick. The trackâ€™s explicit title says it all: Heâ€™s had enough with the cycle of noncommittal relationships. With synthy distortions and a banging guitar loop, the song echoes the sharper edges of contemporaries like Shawn Mendes and Justin Timberlakeâ€™s with a theatrical flair fans have come to expect from Criss. And he is not fucking around. â€”Carson Mlnarik