Bop Shop: Songs From Lolo Zouaï, Mariah The Scientist, Taylor Swift, And More

An ode to desire, some radiant hooks, rallying against patriarchal norms, and a lot more

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.

Lolo Zouaï: "Galipette"

Lolo Zouaï covers a ton of ground in "Galipette"'s head-spinning two minutes. A quaint French-pop intro yields to world-rattling bass as Zouaï asserts herself — "Baby got a new M.O. / Since I took a trip to the candy store" — throughout the bilingual bop. It sounds like the future even as it plays with the past. Must be Zouaï's present. —Patrick Hosken

Joan: “Come Over”

“Forgive me if I come off strong / I don't wanna wait too long,” vocalist Alan Benjamin Thomas prefaces the chorus of this cheeky single from synth-pop duo Joan. Confident in his charms, he boldly asks his date to come over. If the lyrics are any indication, they’ve only just met, but the track’s retro-sounding instrumentals make the invitation to “dance under the kitchen light” feel enchanted. —Sam Manzella

Big Red Machine ft. Taylor Swift: “Renegade”

A year ago, we didn’t know Taylor Swift’s indie-pop masterpiece Folklore (which she crafted with the help of Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner) existed, let alone that it would be the creative collaboration that keeps giving. Swift lends her vocals and vulnerability to “Renegade,” the latest offering from Vernon and Dessner’s joint project Big Red Machine, allowing what would have been a standout track on either of her latest records its own moment of shine. The trio takes their time with the four-minute track, allowing the emotion and instrumentation to swell and falter, and the sparse but complex production allows Swift’s wordplay to cut deeper than ever before. While we’ve seen Taylor take the offensive in love songs before, we’ve never quite heard her come from such a brutally wounded place, letting casually clever lyrics like “Are you really gonna talk about timing in times like these” and “Make me your future history” go for the jugular. It’s all groundwork for perhaps her most candid zinger yet: “Is it insensitive for me to say / ‘Get your shit together, so I can love you.’” —Carson Mlnarik

L Devine: “Girls Like Sex”

“Are you stupid or did you forget?” This pop song initially starts off as sweet and innocent with dreamy sounds but then becomes tough and assertive with its explicit chorus (“Shut the fuck up and just kiss my neck”). The queer singer-songwriter L Devine gives a gleeful “fuck you” to misogynistic, slut-shaming standards forced on women by singing a catchy sex-positive anthem for all girls who should not be ashamed of their sexuality or desires. —Athena Serrano

Christian Leave: “Hard Wad Body”

Eighty-nine seconds into "Hard Wad Body," Christian Leave has begun to scream. It’s a throat-shredding wail at the edge of his lungs, a furious call of anger and desperation and need and the guitar is throttling past the sound barrier and the drums are clenched fists decimating a brick wall punch by punch. It’s guttural, visceral angst, a violent experience that stops as suddenly as it began, when he has no more left to give. In the comparable quiet, Leave desperately explores the hopeless curse of being alone in his skin. “Too much pressure killed the kid,” he reveals, “and now I’m forced to walk around in his body.” You hear him take one sharp, focused breath. And then he’s screaming again. —Terron Moore

Michael Love Michael and Chelsea Wolfe: “Have”

In this duet, Michael Love Michael and Chelsea Wolfe make the most of every line with meandering, aching harmonies, which give the song a sense of weight, a sweltering gloom punctuated by rage. The subject matter, however, is liberatory. Michael wrote "Have" thinking about the ways Black, queer, and trans people are harmed by patriarchal norms, ultimately concluding here that those forces “can't have me.” —Coco Romack

Mariah the Scientist: "Aura"

In the many months since "Beetlejuice" and "Always n Forever" announced her as a stratospheric talent, Mariah the Scientist has kept the rockets launching. On "Aura," a standout from her latest project, Ry Ry World, the indefatigable R&B voice truly floats, unspooling an ode to someone who makes her feel close to the divine: "I'll use up my minutes / To tell you how I believe you are a rainbow / All the heaven I need to see." Ry Ry World is out today featuring collaborations with Young Thug and Lil Baby. —Patrick Hosken

Chelsea Collins: “Open Your Mouth”

Chelsea Collins brings a sense of ‘90s/2000s teen-pop nostalgia, but she also incorporates rock elements to the new “Open Your Mouth.” With Mean Girls-inspired visuals and “…Baby One More Time” vibes, Collins sings about a distant partner who is loving and affectionate at first but then keeps going MIA without notice (“Why do you hold me when I feel afraid? / Wipe all my tears and kiss my face / But tomorrow you will be acting strange / And disappear without a trace”). Collins is freaking out. But the song is a good soothing start. —Athena Serrano

The Mountain Goats: “Lizard Suit”

Who but John Darnielle could make musical magic out of lizard people? In this slow-building track off Dark in Here, The Mountain Goats’s latest album, the prolific singer-songwriter unfolds a curious tale about… well, wearing “a lizard suit” to a party. “It’s so hard to get noticed in this town,” Darnielle complains in his trademark croon. The cryptic lyrics fade into a chaotic full-band jam session accented by piano flourishes. Is the lizard suit a metaphor or a nod to the infamous conspiracy theory? I don’t know, but I physically cannot stop listening. —Sam Manzella

Huron John: “Trapped in a Lava Lamp”

There’s nothing hotter than when I recommend someone a Huron John track, and they’ve already heard it. The Chicago-based indie-pop singer, who produced, wrote, and engineered his latest record Cartoon Therapy on his own, has been a rising voice in the space since his 2018 debut, churning out buzzworthy tracks that secured him spots on Spotify’s coveted “Lorem” playlist as well as a healthy handful of fans. Through his eclectic visuals and mysterious online persona, he’s built his own universe, and “Trapped in a Lava Lamp” is the perfect example of what makes a Huron John song just that. With blips, pops, vocal distortions, and a sprinkle of pop-culture references, his neon and noisy tunes seem to encapsulate what it means to be growing and alive in 2021. His hyper-specific lyrics, which throw it back to therapy visits and “when everybody told me Tyler, the Creator was not cool,” sit in contrast with groovy and chill beats, creating bops for the lonely, lost, and underrated. Though what his technicolor world seems to understand the best is that it’s not only possible to feel a lot of emotions at once, but it’s OK, too. —Carson Mlnarik

Courtney Barnett: "Rae Street"

Great things happen when Courtney Barnett looks out the window. When we first met her eight years ago, she opined, "It's a Monday / It's so mundane"; on her latest confessional, "Rae Street," she languidly paints the scene: trash collection, bike riding, house painting, and more. If it sounds a bit uneventful, especially as she packages it over jangly chords and an unhurried rhythm, she wisely reminds, "Time is money / And money is no man's friend." It sounds like a lost track from Lotta Sea Lice, her 2017 collaboration with Kurt Vile, and it's a most welcome reprieve from the torrent of life getting back to its usual bustle. —Patrick Hosken

Almost Monday: “Til the End of Time”

“We could go somewhere tonight / Electric feeling in your eyes,” vocalist Dawson Daugherty sings to his love interest. The funk-inspired elements represent the idealization of the relationship, and he believes the stars are aligning for them both: “I’ve been looking at your star sign / Wanna put it next to mine / Ooh, it makes everything so clear.” The indie-pop band brings an upbeat optimistic love song perfect for joy riding with your lover ‘til the end of time. —Athena Serrano

Central Heat Exchange ft. Varsity: "Directly Down"

It's hard to map out exactly how far-reaching music collective Central Heat Exchange is, even as a press release labels them "a collaborative project by musicians spread throughout the U.S. & Canada, primarily in the Central Time Zone." Some of the co-conspirators on their upcoming album include folks from Broken Social Scene, Lala Lala, Sun June, and more. But on the hazy "Directly Down," it's simply CHE with peppy cohorts Varsity wading into a swamp of noise until they submerge. What a fun way down. —Patrick Hosken

Jade Bird: "Now Is the Time"

Out of all the radiant moments on Jade Bird's upcoming Different Kinds of Light album, "Now Is the Time" is particularly glowing. On the tune's cheery chorus, her vocal melody runs alongside a mimicking lead guitar line like they’re running a race to the hook. When she sings about "gray skies in my head," you know she's speaking hypothetically. This one's all golden sunshine. —Patrick Hosken

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