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.
UMI: "Down to Earth"
In May, rising R&B singer UMI released a two-track “mini EP” called Balance. Of those songs, "Ordinary" is your more traditional bop; it channels the '80s, complete with a cute Jazzercise-themed video. But it's the other track, "Down to Earth," that I think demonstrates what the Seattle-born, L.A.-based singer does best. Here she is setting the scene: "Can't get no sleep / The moon, it knows I / Don't want you to leave / I think you're divine." It's a warm, sweet love song, but it's also a vulnerable confessional about craving transparency and security in a new relationship. "I need to believe / I'm worth the work / I need you to see / Parts of me I hide," she sings, recognizing that the person who makes her feel so high is also the reason she needs to fall back down to earth. There's nothing ordinary about that. —Madeline Roth
Tove Lo: "Glad He's Gone"
Who hasn't wished their friend would stop seeing some creep who treats them like dirt? The indomitable Tove Lo sings about supporting her bestie, who's been wronged by a veritable loser, on "Glad He's Gone." This spunky dry-those-tears-and-party anthem is about shedding the dead weight that comes in the form of a particularly awful ex, and while it's no slow jam, it moves along at a comfortable enough pace to pat your BFF on the back and remind her he's no longer ruining her life. And now that Tove Lo has successfully convinced me I don't need a man in my life (despite having a fiancé who I love very much), she can probably do the same for anyone tripping over some deadbeat. Share it with love and share it with concern. Protect those friendships, and support each other. Life's too short for "suckers." Now, can I be Tove Lo's BFF? I'm still not over "Disco Tits." —Brittany Vincent
Seventeen: "Happy Ending"
Getting into K-pop is a commitment — of time, money, and emotions. For starters, there are a lot of groups. (A lot!) And these groups have multiple members. Seventeen, for example, has 13 members. (I know, it's confusing.) Then, there's the fact that K-pop groups frequently promote in Japan — where there's a lot of interest in idol groups and a lot of money to be made. So it's not uncommon for groups to release Japanese-language singles. The latest: Seventeen's "Happy Ending," a moody pop song that projects the cinematic fantasy of "happily ever after."
Though not quite as explosive as their first Japanese release "Call Call Call," Seventeen stay true to their sound with a smooth guitar line and a catchy hook bolstered by the sheer power and charisma of vocalists Seungkwan, DK, and Woozi. Known for their ability to write, produce, and choreograph their own music, Seventeen are one of the more popular groups, and a song like "Happy Ending" proves why. They're so shockingly consistent and proficient at what they do that it even makes me forgive them for dabbing in the year of our Lord 2019. (Hoshi, you get a pass this time.) —Crystal Bell
Bas ft. J.I.D: "Fried Rice"
Do you carry your city on your back? Bas does for New York. And in the manner that he does it, the city is fried rice and he's a chicken wing. Sounds delicious. This creative metaphor is the centerpiece for the abrasive "Fried Rice," a collection of lyrical flexes packaged together by a flimsy rubber band. Drums and cymbals are pounded on in the background with what initially sounds like no care until over time you recognize the pattern in the chaos. It's an ominous sound too, one that Bas's voice embraces lovingly with a jittering yet consistent barrage of rhymes. "'Beware the dogs' is what the sign say / I did it my way,” he spits, smiling.
His Dreamville Records label mate J.I.D has 30 million things to say, all slightly more creative boasts than the rest. He squishes them into a verse that's less than a minute long with gracefully anarchistic poise. He sounds like a madman accidentally unleashed, ready to resume his reign of terror. The spittle drips from his lips, and the tips of his dreads are singed. He's a hurricane unfiltered — and "Fried Rice" is an ecstatic showroom of the pair's talents with words. —Trey Alston
I was not familiar with Finnish group feelswithcaps before they popped up on a Spotify playlist, but I was immediately suckered in by the opening lyrics on "Drains" that go "I look for you in Google Earth." Once you get past the Google Earth stuff, "Drains" is quite a melancholic track about loneliness and longing that's masked by a propulsive dance beat, culminating in perfect pop to sad-dance to in your bedroom. —Bob Marshall
Doja Cat: "Go to Town"
All Doja Cat had to say was, "Bitch, I'm a cow," in last year's silly-but-sensual "Mooo!" and we were all ears. Born and raised in L.A., the singer has charisma and confidence to spare, with music that evokes elements of R&B, pop, and rap with a sickeningly sweet twist. Since her 2014 debut EP, she's kept up her game touring with the likes of Lizzo and Theophilus London, and the recent deluxe release of her album Amala is a perfect opportunity to savor some of the bops you might have missed.
Enter "Go to Town" – a bouncy track that will have you hooked from its immediate high-voice refrain. Behind a beat that feels like a mix of club, schoolyard, and candy shop, Doja packs innuendos by the pound. She offers her man a one-chance-only invitation to "go to town" and show her what he's got. She shows no signs of complacency, throwing in winks and jabs between bars, and she knows what she wants and will not stand for any emoji clownery ("He text me an eggplant, I text him a peanut"). With a chorus that won't quit and a wide-eyed smirk you can hear, Doja Cat will have you grooving until you can't help but bust it down and go to town – whatever that means to you. —Carson Mlnarik
Jay Som: "Superbike"
It's called "Superbike," but Jay Som's excellent new single is better built for swimming. You don't even need a pool — creative force Melina Duterte has fashioned a rich, oceanic dream-pop ecosystem for you to cannonball into and splash around in for a while. Like any good swim, it's over too quickly ("Gonna breathe until you're...," she ends her lyrics). But luckily, Jay Som's second album, Anak Ko, drops in just a few months on August 23. Until then, everybody back in. The atmosphere's perfect. —Patrick Hosken
Whitney: "Giving Up"
The kings of Chill Summer Vibes 2K16 are back with their first new single in three years. "Giving Up" finds Chicago indie band Whitney embracing the more twangy parts of their excellent debut album, Light Upon the Lake, and demonstrating yet again their mastery of creating the audio version of lounging in a hammock. The band's highly anticipated sophomore LP, Forever Turned Around, is due out August 30. –Bob Marshall