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.
Taylor Swift: “Cardigan”
Less than a year after Taylor Swift blessed us with her seventh studio album, Lover, the superstar songstress is back to save 2020 with the surprise release of a new album. Folklore, out today (July 24), gave Swifties less than 24 hours of notice from announcement until release, throwing a major wrench in whatever plans they thought they had this weekend. The album’s first single “Cardigan” debuted alongside with a mystical music video that shows where Swift’s head is now.
While Lover gave us plenty of bright colors, pink glitter, and various meanings of love, Folklore evokes a whole new mood of gray skies, woodland scenes, and soothing indie-pop melodies filled with beautifully detailed stories Swift has carefully crafted in her mind. “Cardigan” breaks your heart, conveying feelings of longing for someone to love you like they once did. And if the story doesn’t hit you hard enough, maybe the way Swift croons over the tranquilizing melody will do you in. “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan / Under someone’s bed / You put me on and said I was your favorite.” I will never wear an open-faced sweater the same way again. Stream Folklore to cure your quarantine sorrow. —Alissa Godwin
Bartees Strange: “Mustang”
In March, Washington, D.C.’s Bartees Strange reimagined a batch of songs by indie stalwarts The National “to allude to how Black artists can find room in white spaces.” That EP, Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy, is worth a listen; so is “Mustang,” the excellently urgent new single ahead of his debut album. True to its name, “Mustang” charges forward every second, recalling the burning post-punk of Bloc Party and TV on the Radio. But as his National EP affirmed, Strange can’t be tied down to a single sound. That’s what makes him so enthralling. —Patrick Hosken
The Chicks: “Sleep at Night”
Gaslighter — the latest full-length from the iconic country-pop group formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — is brimming with rage-fueled bangers, but “Sleep at Night” stands out because of its specificity. There’s no mistaking its message: Singer Natalie Maines has no fucking clue how her cheating, gaslighting ex-husband sleeps at night. “Remember you brought her to our show at the Hollywood Bowl?” Maines recalls. “She said, ‘I love you, I’m such a fan’ / I joked that you can love me as long as you don’t love my man.” Is it petty? Yes, and I can’t get enough. To fully bask in it, give the record a spin from top to bottom. There’s a reason we waited 14 years for Gaslighter. —Sam Manzella
Vardaan Arora: “I Don’t Wanna Know (ft. Mrshll)”
Let’s get straight to the point. “I Don’t Wanna Know” is a not-so-subtle song about getting straight to the point: sex. Vardaan Arora isn’t here to play any games and wants nothing less and nothing more. Anybody else relate? The latest single from his upcoming EP, Heartbreak on the Dancefloor, features the sultry vocals of queer K-pop act Mrshll and is produced by indie-electro act Ken Gao. “It exudes this confident energy that I don’t often tap into with my music,” Arora told MTV News. “I wrote it freshly out of a relationship. It’s about being in that rebound phase, when you meet someone you’re attracted to, but you’re not interested in getting to know them on an emotional level.” Now dim the lights and let this raspy bop give you with confidence to make the first move. —Daniel Head
King Princess: “If You Think It’s Love”
There’s a duality to “If You Think It’s Love” that I haven’t been able to shake. Perhaps more obviously, it’s a rejection of a relationship no longer serving its purpose (“If this is love, I want my money back,” she decides at the song’s opening) that gives way to deep insecurities about an uncertain future. But there’s something about the chorus’ floating synths that glow with promise: As she repeats the song’s mantra — “If you think it’s love, it is” — it feels both somber and hopeful, as if the pain’s helped her realize a golden opportunity to redefine what it truly means. —Terron Moore
Gaidaa: “Falling Higher”
From the second that the first lyrics leave her lips, Gaidaa has us in the palm of her hand — or is it falling head over heels right beside her? The Netherlands-based Sudanese singer-songwriter’s voice is simultaneously gripping and ridiculously relaxing, taking us on the smoothest trip as she sings about turbulence. “I’ve been falling higher while I’m holding on / ‘Cause I’ve been wanting more than I can even handle,” she breathes, guiding us on the journey with every note. The ride continues on her debut EP, Overture, which drops today. —Carson Mlnarik
070 Shake: “Guilty Conscience (Tame Impala Remix)”
In its original form, “Guilty Conscience” plays like a last stand, the final bit of moonlight before an explosion of dawn orange. But leave it to Kevin Parker to make things airy and smooth. By pitching down 070 Shake’s haunting vocals and hitting the airlock on the sonics, “Guilty Conscience”-via-Tame Impala is a reimagined space jam. The gravity here lies in those massive trademark drums and Shake’s potent declarations. —Patrick Hosken
Kylie Minogue: “Say Something”
Kylie Minogue has kicked off her cowboy boots after her country-inspired Golden era and returned to the dance floor for her upcoming 15th studio album, Disco. The new lead single, “Say Something,” is a galactic dance tune serving some serious roller-rink-in-space vibes, sounding like it would fit perfectly on the Xanadu soundtrack — the highest compliment! With lyrics like “love is love, it never ends, can we all be as one again,” it’s the ultimate disco track for these socially distant times. —Chris Rudolph
Taylor Swift: “The 1”
“The 1” brings me back to a daydream I had packed up in a little box and pushed into the corner of my mind. The Folklore opener tugs on the heartstrings of unrequited love with a lush sound from Swift accompanied by Aaron Dessner’s beautiful keys. “But we were something / Don’t you think so?” she questions as I wonder if you really ever knew. “I’m good, I’m on some new shit,” she opens the song with a blanket reminder. But as the tape in that little box comes loose, as the cardboard flaps inch open and I see where you’re at now, happy and in love, I have to remind myself to, as Taylor sings, “persist and resist the temptation to ask you” the question I’d long forgotten. “If one thing had been different / Would everything be different today?” It’s a haunting lyric that I wasn’t prepared for as I hit play at midnight, curious about Swift’s surprise album. And it’s this nagging ache that makes “The 1” so heartbreaking, wondering how “it would’ve been fun / if you would’ve been the one.” —Daniel Head