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.
Queen Naija ft. Ari Lennox: "Set Him Up"
Over the past year, we’ve seen some of the best female team-ups in music history – from “Rain on Me” to the “Savage” remix – but no one has taken us on a ride as wild as Queen Naija and Ari Lennox’s new team-up. The track starts as a raunchy girl gossip session, with lyrics like “Your man must be nasty just like mine” and “He ate it like a cake / Then we broke the headboard” sounding like butter, thanks to the duo’s smooth dueling vocals. But after realizing some glaring inconsistencies in their men’s stories, the real drama starts. Its luscious video shows us just how wide these ladies are smiling underneath every sensual and sassy line, and we’re having just as much fun as they are. —Carson Mlnarik
B.I : “Illa Illa”
We’ve reached the point in the year where art begins to imitate life and songs about beaches, islands, and sunshine start to make their way onto our playlists. Though B.I’s “Illa Illa” does just that — it is definitely not your classic Song of the Summer. Accompanied by a more poetic, arthouse-esque visual, “Illa Illa” balances melancholy, emotional lyrics with an upbeat melody bound to get stuck in your head. B.I’s comeback shows a clear distinction between old and new, displaying a sort of rebirth both sonically and visually. On this new track, B.I lets the tears fall like waves but also finds strength and hope for brighter days, singing, “Though I know it will crumble, I’ll probably build a sandcastle again.” —Sarina Bhutani
Jodi: “Go Slowly”
“Go Slowly” moves like its own respiratory system, gently inhaling and exhaling as it alternately gathers and releases strength. In that way, it’s meditative — an infinity symbol set to music by singer-songwriter Nick Levine. Their self-described “queer country” project Jodi shines with moments of quiet grace, especially between the breaths of “Go Slowly.” —Patrick Hosken
Wrabel: “Nothing But the Love”
“Nothing But the Love” is a prime example of what Wrabel does best: earnest, piano-backed pop ballads that tug at the strings of even the most jaded, lovelorn hearts. The soulful cut doubles as the first single off These Words Are All for You, the years-in-the-making debut studio album from the smooth-voiced singer and seasoned songwriter (Kesha’s “Woman,” anyone?). —Sam Manzella
OG Bobby Billions & Blueface: “Outside (Better Days)”
Rising Dallas rapper OG Bobby Billions’s single “Outside” taps into Black music’s long legacy of lyrical testimony. A poignant hook supported by a choir tells the story of losing friends and loved ones to gun violence and juxtaposes feelings of anger, sadness, and the desire for revenge against biblical teachings. “You hear that church up in my verses / That's just how we raised,” Billions sings. Now on its third iteration following the original and a collaboration with the late rapper MO3, the latest release taps Blueface. Part prayer and part vendetta, “Outside” plays like a page ripped from a private journal, spotlighting the multifaceted nature of humanity, the duality of right and wrong, and the emotional debris gun violence always leaves behind. —Virginia Lowman
Smoothboi Ezra: “Stuck”
A dreary ode to being in limbo, “Stuck” travels a great sonic distance in its mere three-minute runtime. Led in by longing picking, lo-fi bedroom-folk maestro Smoothboi Ezra redoubles their voice by the song’s end, asking a fragile and devastating question: “Do you feel stuck?” —Patrick Hosken
Bob Sinclar ft. Molly Hammar: “We Could Be Dancing”
Grab your most camp ensemble and make your way to the dance floor, because summer is here, outside is open, and Bob Sinclar’s “We Could Be Dancing” is summoning us into action. Disco meets EDM and electro-pop in this trippy kaleidoscope of sound. It’s a made-for-summer tune that practically writes the script for what’s to come as the mercury rises. “We don’t have to have each other / We can live and learn,” Molly Hammar sings, reminding us that life is our for the living and we should dance through it all. —Virginia Lowman
Michaela Jaé: “Something to Say”
As Pose launches into its final season, star Mj Rodriguez, a.k.a. Michaela Jaé, brings an empowerment anthem co-written with Earth, Wind & Fire’s Verdine White and John Paris, as well as iconic producer Neal Pogue. The result is an ecstatic, kinetic force of a tune that’ll find itself a fixture of every summer playlist. —Patrick Hosken
MistaJam ft. Vula: “Make You Better”
If summer 2021 is about passion and life untamed, the soundtrack for the times is definitely “Make You Better.” The EDM bop mixed by English DJ MistaJam features iconic vocalist Vula, and taps into the ‘80s and early-‘90s club scene with a hypnotizing beat reminiscent of La Bouche’s “Be My Lover.” The heavy beat almost commands your hips to move, your brow to sweat, and your heart to race. For two and a half minutes, you’re present, fully tapped in, and ready for whatever surprises summer has in store. —Virginia Lowman