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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.
Niall Horan: “Nice To Meet Ya”
If great songs sound like a time, I know exactly which time “Nice To Meet Ya” sounds like: one of the three-minute, fashion-filled montages in that seminal and formative documentary*, The Devil Wears Prada. It has all the zooming highs and buzzy guitars to fuel our heroine into some big challenge and a storyline simple enough to serve as major motivation. Niall Horan is back, baby! And! He’s straight-up obsessed with you.
The track, the lead single from his upcoming second solo album, is different from his prior work on Flicker in a lot of ways: His voice is deeper, for one, and he plays with it in a way that suggests his maturity both as an artist and as a general person. Where Flicker was largely folk-driven, “Nice To Meet Ya” is more playful, with fewer strings attached. In short, it’s the perfect rev up to the last three months of the decade. Go ahead, do something kind of rash. Niall’s got the soundtrack for you.
*You might say DWP is not a documentary. While you are not technically incorrect, you would still be wrong. —Ella Cerón
Tiffany Young, “Run For Your Life”
Since making her solo U.S. debut last year, K-pop star Tiffany Young has experimented with her sound. “Over My Skin” and “Teach You” were both bold and sensual, while “Born Again” was vulnerable, stripping the Girls’ Generation member of her glossy image and building her anew. “Runaway” was a dreamy R&B collab with Babyface that showcased the pure power of her vocals, and “Magnetic Moon” was a nu-disco track that brought Young back to her pop roots. Now, with the release of her latest single “Run For Your Life,” the pop star is switching things up once again with a bouncy club banger perfect for your next kiki or night out. “I’m ice cold, baby / On an ocean of glitter,” Young sings, evoking the spirit of Fame-era Lady Gaga. The dramatic visual finds the pop star voguing and bathed in glitter, which is something we all should aspire to do this weekend. Honestly, Tiffany Young is the Mother we need in 2019. —Crystal Bell
Harry Styles: “Lights Up”
When Harry Styles appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone back in September, the former boy-bander opened up about the role psychedelic drugs have played his creative process. “We’d do mushrooms, lie down on the grass, and listen to Paul McCartney’s Ram in the sunshine,” he said. Now, that psychedelic influence can be heard all over Styles’s new single “Lights Up,” which feels like the crooner’s own personal take on fame and the toxic, dark cloud that hovers over its victims.
“All the lights couldn’t put out the dark,” Styles sings smoothly over the piano-heavy pre-chorus, perhaps referencing how fame alone failed to provide him with authentic happiness. But the chorus repetition of “shine” reveals how he seems to have found his sense of self, taking back everything fame stole from him while he wasn’t looking. By the end, the track’s final words take on a clearer meaning. “Lights up and they know who you are,” he sings, alluding to the fact that fame is merely a smokescreen. And while millions might think they know who Harry Styles truly is, they can’t possibly. Because at times, he didn’t even know who he was. —Jordyn Tilchen
It’s the end of the beginning for K-pop rookie group ATEEZ. Nearly a year after their debut mini-album, the eight-member South Korean team has struck gold with “Wonderland.” The lead single off their first full-length album, TREASURE EP.Fin: All to Action is a destination these Pirate Kings have worked so hard to get to. It’s a powerful anthem that’s both a celebration of the past and a relentless call to fearlessly charge forward. As Hongjoong sings, these dedicated young performers are truly ready to “spread their wings and start their dream,” and honestly, as an ATINY, I’m fucking ready to watch them soar. 가자 Let’s go! —Daniel Head
Helado Negro: “Seen My Aura”
Brooklyn-based Helado Negro has been busy spreading his mantra of “Young, Latin, & Proud” in recent months, including throwing a benefit Thursday night for Make the Road New York, an organization that helps immigrants obtain rights, dignity, and justice. So you can excuse the man for taking so long to release a video for “Seen My Aura,” a track off his excellent album This Is How You Smile, which came out in March.
Like the track, with its phaser guitar and reverb-y vocals that sound like they’re bubbling up from underwater, the video takes place almost completely at a pool where we watch young love bloom during an overcast summer day. It’s only at the end of the video where we see Helado Negro, lost in his nostalgia as we realize that what we’ve actually been in his memory the whole time. —Bob Marshall
Coach Joey ft. Baby Money and Peezy: “Lie on Me”
Detroit’s popularity in the mainstream rap game comes in waves. Danny Brown and Big Sean brought attention back to the city in the early 2010s, and while the genre’s nucleus shifted between Atlanta and New York for the last couple years, artists like Teejayx6 and Sada Baby, to name a few, are ensuring that this next decade will see more of the Motor City’s presence in rap’s ongoing conversation. There’s a particular style there, best encapsulated by Coach Joey, Baby Money, and Peezy’s new collaboration, “Lie on Me.” It’s fast, loose, and dirty, with the mid-verse baton handoffs that made Teejayx6 and Kasher Quon’s “Dynamic Duo” so captivating. “Lie To Me” is from Coach Joey’s new project, Ghetto Friends With Money, that digs into the rapper and producer’s massive Rolodex of styles and rapping friends. If you want to get an idea of what Detroit is bringing throughout the new Roaring ’20s, look no further. —Trey Alston
The Kills: “Future Starts Slow”
This song is hardly new, but it’s new to me. I’ve been seeking sneakily spooky songs to get me in the mood for Halloween, and what better way to do so than with Alison Mosshart’s signature raspy, gritty voice? I couldn’t believe I had never heard this perfectly funky track before after stumbling upon it during a deep Spotify dive, despite loving everything I had heard from Mosshart and her work with The Dead Weather and Mini Mansions. I’m scouring The Kills‘s discography now for more that will absolutely “blow what’s left of my right mind.” —Brittany Vincent
Cyrax: “True Pt. 3”
You know how they say summer 2016 was the best? It was probably because Divine Council was dropping new music consistently. The Richmond-based collective was on fire before easing out of the spotlight mysteriously. One of its most prominent voices was Cyrax, whose “ay!” ad-libs and cornfield accent made his pinky-up bars feel like just-hot-enough shower water running between your shoulder blades after a long day. His newest song, “True Pt. 3,” is the latest in his R&B-influenced series that puts the microscope on his unsettling aesthetic. This guy’s really a star.
His purposefully flat vocals are jarring at first next to the waterfall he raps in front of. In this pollution-free domain, Cyrax is deep in love. Things have been changing for him, but he wants to make it clear to his partner that their love is all that he needs. Yet the storm at the end of the track just makes sense in the context of the ecosystem he’s built. In this perfect realm, there’s danger on the horizon, but you’ll just want to sit on this riverbank and stare into the stars all night. —Trey Alston
SuperM: “2 Fast”
Last week, K-pop supergroup SuperM debuted with “Jopping,” a big and braggadocios single that revels in camp and sonic flair. In many ways, it’s the perfect introduction to Korean management company SM Entertainment and Capitol Records’ latest endeavor — an ambitious project that brings together seven artists from four of the biggest K-pop groups under SM’s roster: SHINee’s Taemin, EXO’s Baekhyun and Kai, NCT 127’s Taeyong and Mark, and WayV’s Ten and Lucas. But it’s the seductive B-side “2 Fast” that showcases what this genre-bending group is truly capable of.
The sultry, vibey R&B track — a signature of SM Entertainment — finds members Taemin, Baekhyun, Mark, and Lucas singing over a bouncy synth. The colorful harmonies feel reminiscent of a SHINee cut, but “2 Fast” offers up enough surprises (including a thrilling mid-song tempo switch-up) to keep listeners guessing. It’s a song that, like SuperM, never settles into one singular groove. Not a bad start for a group whose ultimate goal is to “bring K-pop to the next level.” —Crystal Bell
Miami Horror: “Luv Is Not Enough”
If it’s a disco banger you’re looking for, then Australian electro-pop band Miami Horror has just what you need. Featuring Clear Mortifee on the mic and propelled by a smooth and infectious bass line, “Luv Is Not Enough” is begging for someone to sync it to a video of John Travolta dancing in Saturday Night Fever. After you’ve spent your entire day experiencing the crisp fall air, why not use this to keep you warm at night? Miami Horror’s third album, its first since 2015, is due out late next year. —Bob Marshall
ATL Smook ft. Skip Gocar: “My Body”
ATL Smook has been making some of my favorite post-Chief Keef, conflicted, whispering trap music for years. YouTube commenters who claim he’s the only Keef successor to really master that hopeless feeling, like he’s just moving on autopilot while still making it sound good. I don’t know about all that, but I do appreciate the similarities they share, even if I prefer ATL Smook’s slightly more polished drawl and knack for rapping over beats that sound reconstructed from bits of cosmic nebulae shocked by defibrillators. “My Body,” his newest release, is more like the soundtrack to a death race on Mars. It’s brutal, alien, and downright scary. It begins and ends with a beat that could tenderize a thick steak. The bass establishes world domination immediately, and ATL Smook steps in to lead the apocalyptic army. He brings along a frequent collaborator, Gocar, for a slightly more restrained look at the Auto-Tune-led vocals that comprise that track. Together, the two sound like they come from outside the solar system to rule our planet. —Trey Alston
Michael Stipe: “Your Capricious Soul”
The former R.E.M. singer’s first-ever solo single may sound subdued on first listen, but its reverberations run deep. They have to: Stipe joined with anti-climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion for the release, and he said the organization “gave me the incentive to push the release and not wait.” At first blush, it’s simply a great joy to hear his iconic voice again. By listen three, the throbbing bass and minimalist tambourine are like an elixir of hope for a weary soul. I’ve listened 20 times and I can’t wait to see what the next 20 hold. All proceeds go to fight climate change; you can buy the song right here. —Patrick Hosken