Bop Shop: Songs From Caroline Polachek, Kevin Abstract, And More

Music for deleting your Instagram, torching a relationship, and dancing for no reason at all

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.

Aurora: "Cure for Me"

"Cure for Me" finds glittering Norwegian pop phenom Aurora leaning into the deep reverberations of a playful rhythm, even as the tune embodies a bold statement of self. "I don't need a cure for me," she sings repeatedly on the song she recently said was "very inspired by the gay community" and drag queens. As such, it expertly blends that proud declaration with the sweet and necessary release of losing yourself in the beat. —Patrick Hosken

Chvrches: “Good Girls”

Chvrches’s Lauren Mayberry won’t alter who she is to be perceived as one of the “Good Girls.” On this defiant new track, Mayberry’s crisp vocals shine against the shimmering synths that put the Scottish indie-pop band on the map, setting the stage for her emotional (and timely) realization: “Killing your idols is a chore / And it’s such a fucking bore / But we don’t need them anymore / We don’t need them anymore.” —Sam Manzella

Law: “Controller”

Bringing early 2000s R&B vibes, singer-songwriter Law declares she doesn't want a controller and isnt't taking shit from anyone trying to dictate her life. “Mamma didn’t raise no puppet / And Daddy did not raise no timid girl / So I’mma say what’s on my mind,” she sings. Her assertive voice is simple and clear: “I did not ask your opinion, so why do I gotta think twice about what I do?” Law serves a hot and smooth empowerment anthem for the ladies, her fans, and all the besties. —Athena Serrano

TC Superstar: “Nothing to Believe In”

Austin synth-pop outfit TC Superstar returns with a new bop about the digital age, but it couldn’t sound more retro. “Nothing to Believe In,” the first taste of their forthcoming album, As Seen on TV, examines how consumer culture has overtaken entertainment and binge-watching has become the cure-all, especially after a year spent indoors. “My TV shows / My HBO / My Netflix / And my Hulu / I can watch them all,” frontperson Connor McCampbell croons in a low register that could rival Wham! The musing behind the message is masked in handclaps, disco synths, and groovy stutters, creating a track perhaps just as addictive as streaming itself. —Carson Mlnarik

Caroline Polachek: “Bunny Is a Rider”

Bunny isn't just another girl in a sweater. She's the elusive, coolly-off-the-grid proxy Caroline Polachek summons in her sideways bid for song of the summer. "Bunny is a rider / Satellite can't find her," she sings of the persona, as producer Danny L. Harle's bass works overtime between periodic marimba thuds and fertile breaks in sound. This song reminds me how good it felt to delete my Instagram. —Coco Romack

Kevin Abstract ft. $not and Slowthai: “Slugger”

It's a new era for Kevin Abstract. The Brockhampton leader has partnered with dynamos $not and Slowthai for "Slugger," an infectious cut dripping with interesting sounds and plenty of attitude. Take a sample. —Patrick Hosken

Pizzagirl: “By the Way”

In this acoustic-electronica ballad, vocalist Liam Brown pours out his emotions as he lets go of a love interest. What is more tragic is how the subject would give mixed signals: “You said we’re friends / Won’t lie, it hurt.” But theirs seems to be more like a therapist-client relationship than a romance: “You're like a shrink / And I'm on the couch / You start to sigh as I pour it out to you.” As a result of his heartbreak and expectations broken, Brown, better known as Liverpool’s Pizzagirl, wants to be “reborn as something better.” This is a bittersweet summer song to play when you're mourning a relationship. —Athena Serrano

BTS: “Permission to Dance”

It’s not every day that you hear a song that immediately feels like sunshine on your skin, but that’s exactly what BTS invoke with their newest single, “Permission to Dance.” Commemorating the July 9 anniversary of their fandom, the song stays true to the band’s latest funky, retro, feel-good stylings. Accompanied by a spirited, Wild West-tinged music video that features people of all backgrounds, BTS continue to bring people together through their music and create inclusive spaces for everyone. After a year of isolation, “Permission to Dance” reminds us that we are finally back in control of our joy. —Sarina Bhutani

Samia: “Big Wheel”

Amidst changes, growth, and disaster, Samia cuts through the noise with instantly soothing track “Big Wheel.” Though her lyrics read as a mix between admissions of failure and mantras of faith, her confident and wise voice shows she’s resolved to do anything but give up. “I got a big wheel in Montana / And he told me yesterday / That a year ago he looked me in the eyes / And lied to me,” she plainly admits, before a heavenly chorus rains down with “I got bad news, but I didn’t fight.” Existential disasters or all-encompassing depression aside, the razor-sharp production shows this indie-pop singer isn’t going anywhere: In addition to her latest single “Show Up,” she’s set to take her big wheel on tour with Sylvan Esso later this year. —Carson Mlnarik

Natalie Imbruglia: “Maybe It’s Great”

Is this Natalie Imbruglia or the soundtrack for an ‘80s arcade game? You might ask yourself this when you hear “Maybe It’s Great,” Imbruglia’s new single from her upcoming album, Firebird. The retro track was co-written with Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. and producer Gus Oberg, and the result is a synth-wave power ballad that sounds like a Bonnie Tyler B-side or the perfect soundtrack for a road-trip movie. Imbruglia singing about how “maybe it’s great when there’s nothing left to lose” will release your inner rebel, leaving you with a strong urge to hop on a motorcycle and race into the sunset, or maybe you’ll just hit repeat once the song ends. Either way, put a quarter in the jukebox and pump up the volume. —Chris Rudolph

Willow ft. Travis Barker: "Gaslight"

With her new album Lately I Feel Everything, Willow Smith is torching the expectations of those who still think of her as the little girl in the "Fireball" video. She drops a flurry of F-bombs in "Fuck You," and on "Gaslight," she rages over a flawed, queer love. The latter spotlights Travis Barker's fearsome drumming, which slingshots the song from verse to refrain as Willow pleads with a partner to "stop messing with my head / And love me instead." It's the pop-punk revival in its purest distillation, and at under two minutes, the song burns up as quickly as an ethanol flame. Catch Willow's Watch Together performance of her album today on Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook. —Coco Romack

Daniel Loumpiridis: “U Don’t Give A Fuck”

“I don’t understand where the problem is,” Daniel Loumpouridis sings. This emo electronic song is about a love interest who doesn’t care about him anymore. The L.A.-based artist points out our culture’s tendency to always be on our phones while refusing to actually communicate: “'Cause every day you’re on your phone and I don’t understand why you can’t hit me back.” And he’s not wrong. All he wants is for his love interest to just call him up once in a while. —Athena Serrano

Wye Oak: "Electricity"

A decade ago, shape-shifting Baltimore band Wye Oak released Civilian, an exceptional indie-rock album that presaged the wonders band member Jenn Wasner would bring about through the rest of the 2010s — listen to her Flock of Dimes project and contributions to Bon Iver for proof. In October, Wasner and bandmate Andy Stack will release Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011, an anniversary edition of Civilian that comes with 12 b-sides from the era that didn't make the cut. One of them, "Electricity," is so unbelievably good that it could anchor a lesser band's entire career. It's almost cliché, but if this is what they left in the studio, think about how good that makes the finished album. Listen to the rush of "Electricity," then go dig into Civilian. —Patrick Hosken

Conan Gray: “People Watching”

Back with another song that will make you burst into tears before the end of the first verse, bedroom-pop star Conan Gray makes a real impact with “People Watching.” Written alongside resident sad-girl Julia Michaels and produced by Dan Nigro (of Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour), there genuinely couldn’t be a song more lyrically determined than “People Watching,” a bop that hits you right where it hurts. They say the songs that are the most specific are often the most universal. “People Watching” is a prime example. —Sarina Bhutani

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