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.
Rihanna: “Lift Me Up
Rihanna’s back, and how else could she have possibly returned than with a blockbuster spectacle of a song that still sounds as intimate and lovely as any of the best ballads in her catalog? Recorded for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, “Lift Me Up” is a sparse, string-plucked, and lightly smoky hymn — and above all, it’s a tribute to star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020. The best part? There’s surely plenty more new Rih where this came from. —Patrick Hosken
Jin: “The Astronaut”
Jin’s new solo single “The Astronaut” has officially landed on Earth. Co-written with Coldplay, the BTS member’s track features a soft pop-rock melody filled with heavy synths and vocal layers that perfectly accompany Jin’s airy, elegant vocals, as well as his massive range. Though this is not the first time Jin has used an astronomical concept as a metaphor in his music (see “Moon”), here, the vocalist places himself at the center of the story — he is the astronaut. Accompanied by a warm, almost nostalgic music video featuring Jin as an alien who ultimately chooses to remain on Earth, “The Astronaut” is an example of art representing life, serving as an emotional tribute to both his fans and group mates ahead of his military enlistment. Knowing this, the song just hits different. However, fans can find solace in the fact that though he’ll be gone for a while, he’ll always return home to them. —Sarina Bhutani
Duckwrth has dropped another immaculate album, further proving he’s a no-skips king. Chrome Bull is front-to-back fabulous with my only critique being that I wish it was longer, but I know this man is prolific, so patience is a pleasure. So was listening to “Sneaky,” which illustrates a string of steamy, secret hookups. The album’s techno-rave sound and tantalizing lyrics show that its title Chrome Bull is just another moniker for this modern and sexy Taurus. —Gwyn Cutler
The existential dread that comes with growing up is a common plight amongst twentysomethings around the world. At 28, Monsta X’s Kihyun is right on time with “Youth,” a nostalgic, rock-inspired mid-tempo track that expresses a yearning for childhood innocence and simplicity. The K-pop vocalist utilizes layered guitar sounds alongside a heavy rhythmic drum sequence to build up to the track’s emotional chorus, serving as a perfect climax reminiscent of the pop-rock sounds of the mid-2000s. Perfectly aligned with the song’s greater theme, Kihyun gets the chance to reconnect with his inner child throughout the course of the bright and colorful music video, where he is able to jump on his bed, play on a playground, and run into the ocean fully clothed. Though it is normal to look back on the past and feel a sense of regret, we must remember that our best days are still ahead of us. Kihyun, that means you, too. —Sarina Bhutani
Thee Sacred Souls: “Love Is the Way”
Listening to Thee Sacred Souls is the closest I can get to the 1970s romance I’ve always wanted, so when they released this heartfelt number, I fell for their artistry all over again. The band emits a sound seemingly straight from a time capsule, but the themes they express are timeless. This song portrays their personal evolution of perceiving love from childhood to adulthood and how that perspective has expanded to a deeper definition: “Love has no limits and it has no name / It’s every hour and it’s day by day / Love has no gender and it has no creed / Love is, love is a way of being.” —Gwyn Cutler
Dominic Angelella: “Supporting Role”
You hear a lot about “main character energy” these days. Relentlessly creative Philadelphia talent Dominic Angelella offers another take on his latest single: “I hope you forget about me / Know that it never was my goal / To play a supporting role.” It might seem bleak on paper, but the song itself shimmers like a Great Lake, in the way indie rock can at its absolute best. Melancholy, sure, but also completely content in its own pragmatism. For a guy who’s played with Lucy Dacus, Hop Along, mewithoutYou, and many more bands, he’s never sounded more completely at ease than singing his own great songs, like this one. —Patrick Hosken
Kimbra: “Save Me”
Kimbra embraces her insecurity and codependency in her latest and most vulnerable single. Like her fellow New Zealand songwriter Lorde, she calls herself out as a liability, stuck suffering in a depressive stalemate where her partner is a crutch, the only force keeping her steady. Her use of ominous yet gentle instrumentals creates a fragile atmosphere that erupts with every break of her voice. Kimbra complements the soundscape beautifully with futuristic yet organic visuals, her enclosed in and chipping away at a tar-like shell being the one that’s left me the most awestruck. —Gwyn Cutler
Taylor Swift: “Bejeweled”
Taylor Swift’s pop return hits in a big way with the second single from her newly released, record-breaking album, Midnights. Fans are losing it over the Cinderella-themed visual for “Bejeweled” and the many Easter eggs hidden throughout. As for the bop itself, it’s about proving to yourself and others that you can still shine, while a vibrant and twinkling dance melody carries the song. Swift even credits the track with helping her reclaim the pop space: “There are tiny inflections of me hyping myself up to return to pop music after spending these glorious years writing folk songs and being in this metaphorical forest that I’ve created, which I’ve loved so much, but there was a bit of pumping myself back up to be like, ‘You can do it, you’re still bejeweled.’” The song will have you feeling yourself and feeling bejeweled with just one listen. —Alissa Godwin