Bop Shop: Songs From Japanese Breakfast, Ethel Cain, Jessie Ware, And More

Songs for breaking up, breaking away from your small town, and breaking it down on the dance floor

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.

Young the Giant: “American Bollywood”

This title track for the band’s upcoming fifth album is an ode to first-generation Americans who’ve watched their parents sacrifice everything to make their lives possible. The video cuts between symbolic beach scenes and personal archival footage of the lead singer, Sameer Gadhia, growing up with his family. “He was strong just for his mother / Barely turned 13,” Gadhia sings. “When life made a man of him / His father took the train to Bombay / Just to make a living.” The members of Young the Giant have been creating masterpieces for almost two decades, and never have they been more in tune with their origins. —Gwyn Cutler

Japanese Breakfast ft. So!YoON!: “Be Sweet”

Japanese Breakfast’s “Be Sweet” has been the biggest hit from their Grammy-nominated 2021 album Jubilee, where lead vocalist Michelle Zauner pondered about her partner leaving her but still wants to believe in the relationship. Now, Zauner has a new rendition of the upbeat dream-pop track in Korean — with a surprise appearance from South Korean singer So!YoOn! While Zauner still leads the song through the first verse (“Make it up to me, you know it’s better”), So!YoOn! takes over the chorus and second verse with her breathy vocals: “Start over with your lies, your emotions,” she sings in Korean. “Take the time to undo your lies, make it up once more with feeling.” —Athena Serrano

Jessie Ware: “Free Yourself”

We still have Jessie Ware’s sexy and soulful 2020 album What’s Your Pleasure on repeat, but now the singer is serving us with another dose of disco ecstasy. For her new single, Ware has enlisted prolific producer Stuart Price (behind Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor and Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite) and Dua Lipa collaborator Coffee Clarence Jr. to create a dance track that will have you feeling the ’90s house fantasy, complete with piano riffs and deep bass. The joyfully energetic song will send you soaring to new heights, which is appropriate since Ware keeps singing, “Free yourself, keep on moving up that mountain top.” What better place to start the ascent than on the dance floor? —Chris Rudolph

AJ McLean: “Smoke”

The Backstreet Boys may be in the middle of an ambitious, nostalgia-inducing world tour, but that’s not stopping the group’s resident rebel AJ McLean from releasing new solo music. While McLean has never been afraid to experiment with different genres, “Smoke” is firmly in his R&B comfort zone with a groovy bass line and sultry vocals that are giving major Prince vibes. This sexy single is just the start as the singer gets ready to release his first solo album in over a decade this October, aptly titled Sex and Bodies. —Farah Zermane

Ethel Cain: “American Teenager”

Ethel Cain critiques the sacrifices we need to make for the suburban fantasy in “American Teenager." “Grew up under yellow light on the street / Putting too much faith in the make-believe / And another high school football team,” she sings in the first verse, reflecting on her own Southern Baptist childhood in Florida. “The neighbor's brother came / home in a box / But he wanted to go, so maybe it was his fault / Another red heart taken by the American dream.” As Ethel grew older, she became disillusioned with her own religion (“And Jesus, if you're there, why do I feel alone in this room with you?”) and felt like an outcast for no longer believing in her small town’s values. Through it all, she declares that she'll live life the way she pleases: “I'm doing what I want and damn, I'm doing it well / For me, for me.” —Athena Serrano

S. Raekwon: “Talk”

Whether you’re in the city or by the seaside, this song will have you skipping to the beat even in this sweltering heat. S. Raekwon captures the spirit of summer freedom in his crayon-etched visuals of mundane play and people-watching. What he also depicts so well in his lyrics is a relationship in desperate need of vulnerability, the kind of pure communication your inner child can offer. “And baby this ain’t a book you can’t skip to the end / So can you let this play out?” he describes. “I wanna let you in on what I’m thinking / What I’m dreaming bout.” —Gwyn Cutler

Panic! at the Disco: “Middle of a Breakup”

If you’ve been hankering for some new Panic! at the Disco since the release of 2018’s Pray for the Wicked, worry not – the time is nigh. Their latest track, “Middle of a Breakup,” is a fluorescent shout-along anthem perfectly attuned for breakup season. Falling out of love has never sounded so jubilant (or naughty) as Urie croons about neck kisses, doomed romance, and yes, “make-up sex in the middle of a breakup.” A screeching guitar solo reminds us that this is the group that started out wearing eyeliner asking, “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door.” Its larger-than-life, Grease-inspired video is proof that they’ve not only evolved but found a style that’s entirely their own. We’ll hear more when their new album Viva Las Vengeance drops on August 19. —Carson Mlnarik

Stephen Sanchez: “Until I Found You”

Stephen Sanchez was inspired to write this romantic ’50s-inspired indie-pop ballad when, after a brief breakup, he reunited with his girlfriend. “I wrote ‘Until I found You’ to let her know how much I love her, and to let her know I knew how much of an idiot I was when I let her go the first time,” he said in an interview with the blog PLNK WIFI. The couple even channels their inner Elvis and Marilyn Monroe with a duet in the music video. “I would never fall in love again until I found her / I said, ‘I would never fall, unless it's you I fall into,’” they sing mesmerizingly. “I was lost within the darkness, but then I found her / I found you.” It’s a perfect track for slow-grooving with your partner on the dance floor. —Athena Serrano