Michael Ferire / Furmaan Ahmed
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.
Kae Tempest: “More Pressure” (ft. Kevin Abstract)
Kae Tempest’s “More Pressure” is simply undeniable. The British rapper and poet devotes the first few minutes of their new single to reciting self-betterment maxims as if items on a checklist: “More pressure, more release, more relief / More belief / Less push, more flow / Please, let me let go.” This is engrossing because of the musical bed underneath it, which dazzles with pure synthpop delight. Then, the beat drops out for three whole seconds, but Tempest trusts you’ll stick around to hear the rest. See to it that you do, and you’ll find Kevin Abstract in a similarly driven mode on top of even more gigantic keyboard thuds. It’s a new year. Time to let this pair get you motivated. —Patrick Hosken
BamBam ft. Seulgi: “Who Are You”
What’s better than one K-pop star? Two K-pop stars! GOT7’s BamBam makes his solo comeback with “Who Are You,” a mid-tempo pop ballad featuring Red Velvet’s Seulgi, a fellow fan fave. In true collaboration, both artists’ strong yet sultry vocals melt together effortlessly over the acoustic-blend track, highlighting both their individual talents as well as their work as a duo. Accompanied by an edgy, high-contrast visual filled with perfectly in-sync, already TikTok-viral choreography (as expected of a lead and main dancer), “Who Are You” serves as the perfect introduction to BamBam’s new era and leaves fans waiting in anticipation for the release of sophomore mini-album, B. —Sarina Bhutani
Paul Van Haver, the Belgian singer-songwriter-composer known the world over as Stromae, unveiled his new single “L’Enfer” this week during a moving performance on a French news program followed by the release of an equally powerful music video. “L’Enfer,” or “Hell,” paints a portrait of the artist’s mental health struggles, in which he reveals he’s considered suicide and recognizes he’s “not alone in feeling all alone.” This deep emotional honesty from one of the most revered artists in the Francophone world and beyond is much needed at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly exacerbated feelings of anxiety and depression. During his interview with TF1, Stromae discusses the dichotomy of his joyful beats and dark lyrics, likening them to his outlook on life. “There are difficult moments, more joyful moments… There is no high without low, there is no low without high. That’s life.” —Farah Zermane
Lael Neale: “Hotline”
In the 1950s and ’60s, pop songs would only get radio play if they were three minutes or less in length — the amount of music a 45 RPM record could hold. L.A.’s Lael Neale seems to understand this intrinsically on “Hotline,” which brings minimal, mid-century pop to the fore. With only a skeletal programmed beat and a rising swell of keyboard chords to accompany her, Neale lets her voice be the star here. It’s slight but powerful, like the vinyl discs DJs used to spin. Neale, of course, wraps up her song in 2: 50. —Patrick Hosken
Orville Peck: “Dead of Night”
Leave it to the Season 2 premiere of Euphoria to bring this sultry cut from masked country-pop singer Orville Peck back into my life. A standout off Peck’s 2019 EP Show Pony, “Dead of Night” simmers with yearning, painting an atmospheric picture of a debaucherous night out on the town with a bad-boy lover (“Strange canyon road, strange look in your eyes / You shut them as we fly, as we fly”). Peck’s throaty croon reaches the top of his vocal register in the chorus, nixing any possibility of passive listening. It’s an evocative auditory experience ripe for daydreaming, although the song’s feature on HBO’s hit teen drama coincides with a nightmare of a storyline. No spoilers, I promise. —Sam Manzella
On the R&B-adjacent “Rush,” Raveena allows waves of sound, both synthetic and organic, to wander in and out as her voice passes through all of them. It’s the kind of openness that sounds colorful — she says the song came to her as a result of an acid trip — and for its accompanying journey of a video, Raveena lets the hues surround her. She brings in the Bollywood influence that also permeates the song (fused with, she says, “the pop/R&B music that I grew up on in America”) and also pulls in references from “’70s Western sci-fi movies that I’m obsessed with.” The result is a totally singular statement from an artist primed for bigger things in 2022. —Patrick Hosken
FKA Twigs: “Lightbeamers”
One of the most subdued songs on FKA Twigs’s latest mixtape, Caprisongs, is “Lightbeamers,” which sounds almost like a lullaby. As Twigs repeats “pretty and sad,” her voices takes on a number of unusual qualities — no surprise from an artist who’s made a career out of unexpected vocal shifts. But on this almost tender cut, bolstered by harp plucks baked into a slow beat, the moments where she sings directly at you become the most memorable. —Patrick Hosken
- Bop Shop