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.
Okay Kaya: “Jolene From Her Own Perspective”
We’ve all heard Dolly Parton’s pleas to Jolene to please not take her man. Now imagine, if you will, a response from Jolene herself. That’s the conceit of Okay Kaya’s newest tune, but it sounds far from gimmicky. Instead, gorgeous background harmonies on key lines directed at Dolly (“I know you cheated too,” “I think you’re heaven sent, I can’t believe we’re arguing about some man”) lodge this one deep. Listen once, take it in, smile, breathe, then listen again. Make it a meditation. —Patrick Hosken
Contour ft. Semiratruth: “Repossess”
Pure poetry and the contemporary sonics of jazz, soul, and hip-hip entwine to make this powerful masterpiece. Inspired by the great artists from the L.A. Rebellion of the ‘80s, the song divulges on the suppressed issues affecting the Black community, showcased in its music video as a secret club where Black artists can express themselves and thrive. Enter a white man who bribes his way in, only to be possessed by the poignant emotion of Contour’s plights. When the white man cries, blood is shed, showing how uncovering the Black struggle against colonialism opens a violent and ugly floodgate. Black culture is beauty and pain, though often the white public only appropriates its positive aspects. Semiratruth lives up to their name and spits intense and influential truths, yet their even-tempered tone never falters. There is cool confidence in their conflict, signifying a firm grasp on reality with the power to change it. —Gwyn Cutler
Meghan Trainor: “Don’t I Make It Look Easy”
Meghan Trainor has always had a knack for sprinkling a little doo-wop and self-empowerment into pop beats to create infectious tracks, and her latest single marks a return to form. Like its chart-topping predecessors, “Don’t I Make It Look Easy” is simple on the surface: upbeat and sassy as Trainor confidently croons about keeping up a flawless exterior. But its verses reveal she’s delivering every lyric with a wink and a nod. “You won’t ever see me cry / ’Cause I’ve got a filter for every lie,” she admits, slyly revealing that, just like the rest of us, a self-love pop-princess sometimes has to work a little harder to hype herself up. It’s only a taste of what we can expect from her new album Takin’ It Back, which drops October 21. —Carson Mlnarik
GloRilla ft. Yo Gotti: “Blessed”
Another reminder that GloRilla’s voice is unmatched, “Blessed” sees the Memphis rapper finding a deeper register to deploy a great barb: “He got 99 problems and the biggest one is me.” A late verse from Yo Gotti seals the deal on this one — “She said I’m thinking with my dick, I guess I’m thinking really hard” — and GloRilla’s ascent continues. Onto the next. —Patrick Hosken
Talia Goddess: “Ragga”
Busting out beats since she was six, Brooklyn native Talia Goddess has mixed and mastered neo-soul and NYC hip-hop. Now, she’s dabbled in electronic reggaeton, and as expected, it’s immaculate. Her queer and Caribbean identities contribute beautifully to this bumping beat, rousing the communities she represents. Sonically, it’s compelling. Visually, it’s captivating. The warped, inverse and multi-colored effects atop exhilarating party scenes bring vibrant vitality to the already vigorous song. No wonder her record label is called Trance – her music puts the hips in hypnotizing. —Gwyn Cutler
The latest tune from Chicago art-pop wiz Nnamdï flutters around an electronic base, each new sound exciting but not taking away from the whole experience. Nnamdï himself sounds like he’s grown legion, with tons of voices chirping that he has to stay strong through the pain. “I wrote this deep into the 2020 pandemic as self-motivation to get me out of the crippling funk,” he said in a statement. Still works in 2022. —Patrick Hosken
Phoenix ft. Ezra Koenig: “Tonight”
Phoenix. Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. A banging beat on a song called “Tonight.” If I could time-travel back to my college dorm in 2009 and hand myself this song — “Here you go, kid. Now go forth and turn up” — I would. But that entire scenario does this gleaming team-up a disservice. Instead of being a glossy, dancey, late-aughts indie nostalgia play, “Tonight” stands on its own. The pace is a bit slower. The craft is a bit more refined. But the vibes remain immaculate. —Patrick Hosken