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. And all March long, we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by spotlighting women making music that feels essential to right now.
Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
Tune-Yards: “Hold Yourself.”
Poignant but never preachy, “Hold Yourself.” is a deeply empathetic meditation on intergenerational trauma. It’s also a damn good song, showcasing the layered vocals and rich percussion that make Tune-Yards a reliable standout in the saturated world of indie pop. “Hold yourself now / You have to hold yourself now,” croons singer Merrill Garbus. Coming from anyone else, I’d find that condescending; from Tune-Yards, it feels comforting. —Sam Manzella
A week after his enlistment in the South Korean military, EXO member and multi-instrumentalist Chanyeol has resurfaced with one last parting gift for fans: the smooth, introspective “Tomorrow.” The acoustic track written by the singer himself ruminates on the uncertainty of the future with a refreshing level of honesty and vulnerability that leaves a bittersweet feeling in your chest given its context. “What’s next? / Will it be the same as now? / It’s like walking in a tunnel / I feel so anxious,” he confesses. “Tomorrow, I’ll wait you.” With his military discharge date set for next year, we can’t wait until tomorrow comes and Chanyeol makes his return. —Emlyn Travis
Dasha: “More Than This”
Early 2000s nostalgia is in full swing. While singer-songwriter Dasha’s new video for $hiny Things track “More Than This” oozes with callbacks to simpler days of Chad Michael Murray and Ashlee Simpson locker posters, its sound is decidedly contemporary. With a bouncing beat and a heavenly flow, the Nashville-based artist goes off on a boyfriend who only wants to “Hang out / Make out / Order up too much take-out.” Her pleading chorus asking for a relationship that’s “more than this” is exceptionally sticky and relatable, whether you’re binge-watching early Sex and the City episodes or dealing with a modern romance. But the shout-out to mango Truly’s seltzer has me especially glad to be listening to this bop in 2021. —Carson Mlnarik
Chiiild ft. Mahalia: “Awake”
Montreal experimental soul band Chiiild’s latest track, “Awake,” features English singer Mahalia, and plays like a dream — one set at a vintage roller rink with your lover. A steady baseline paired with a synthesizer and breathy vocals make the track almost otherworldly. Think Roll Bounce meets modern fever dream. It’s simultaneously nostalgic and current with lines that reference aughts-era classics like Nelly and Kelly Rowland’s 2002 R&B hit “Dilemma.” It’s as easy to play as it is to get lost in. —Virginia Lowman
St. Vincent: “The Melting of the Sun”
St. Vincent continues her descent as a groovy rock goddess with a trippy new track, “The Melting of the Sun,” off her upcoming album, Daddy’s Home. Over the course of the psychedelic single, St. Vincent shouts out influential female musicians that came before her, including Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, and Tori Amos. Any song that gives props to the red-headed ’90s piano siren is a certified bop in my book. And make sure to check out the colorful animated music video, which reads like an episode of Schoolhouse Rock. Obsessed. —Chris Rudolph
AJ Mitchell: “Stop”
Listening to AJ Mitchell’s latest single might bring on brief but welcome flashbacks to late 2017, when the pop singer Kim Petras’s breakout single “I Don’t Want It At All” filled the airwaves. Both tracks feature impossibly catchy, repetitive refrains about things the artists do and don’t want — though that’s probably about all they have in common. Rather than a high-octane banger, “Stop,” true to its title, slows things down to a steady pulse. Mitchell climbs the scales, then rides them back down, making for a sensuous jam primed for the beat of the bedroom. —Coco Romack
Wendy: “Like Water”
Red Velvet’s Wendy made her debut as a solo artist this week with “Like Water,” an ethereal acoustic ballad that compares the free-flowing nature of the liquid to healing, everlasting love. “My love is like water / Filling your sore spots,” she sings. “It covers the deep wounds and embraces you tightly / It makes you rise again.” Finding beauty in simplicity, the stripped-back tune allows Wendy’s soaring vocals to take center stage as she effortlessly flits from delicate humming to phenomenal high notes. Cool, clear, and cleansing, “Like Water” is a refreshing, thirst-quenching new start for the singer. —Emlyn Travis
Darren Criss: “F*kn Around”
From Glee pop to hypnotizing Les Mis covers, Darren Criss has established himself as a multifaceted actor and performer. His newest single unearths another side still, a bad boy with a bone to pick. The track’s explicit title says it all: He’s had enough with the cycle of noncommittal relationships. With synthy distortions and a banging guitar loop, the song echoes the sharper edges of contemporaries like Shawn Mendes and Justin Timberlake’s with a theatrical flair fans have come to expect from Criss. And he is not fucking around. —Carson Mlnarik