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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 reallyÂ good, or are they just new?
EnterÂ Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminateÂ by genre and can include anything â€” 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.
Caroline Polachek: “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”
You may remember Caroline Polachek as one-third of indie-pop band Chairlift (who you also may remember from their catchy tune “Bruises” after it was featured in an iPod Nano commercial in 2008). Since dissolving Chairlift in 2016, Caroline has gone solo, and if the masterfully titled “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” is any indication, her forthcoming album is something to look forward to. Over an ’80s beat that wouldn’t sound out of place in a John Hughes movie, Polachek yearns for a recently lost love whose photos make the breakup sting that much more. Anyone who’s accidentally had recent ex come across their Instagram feed will no doubt know exactly where she’s coming from.
While it isn’t spelled out in the track’s accompanying lyric video, it certainly sounds like the bridge goes “Show me your banana / nana nana.” And if that’s not the case, I would honestly prefer not knowing. Caroline’s new album Pang, her first recorded under her own name, is out October 18. â€”Bob Marshall
The Cars: “Coming Up You Again”
After Cars co-founder and songwriter Ric Ocasek died this week, I immediately reached for his band’s flawless first two albums, reveling in the quick energy and pure melodic pleasure of “Just What I Needed” and “Lust for Kicks.” Then I went deeper. On 1987’s “Coming Up You,” fellow vocalist Benjamin Orr sells the glossy pop drama Ocasek penned with precision. But on the song’s lonely 1981 demo, it’s Ocasek by himself, stretching his wounded voice across a squiggly panoply of synthesized noises. This singular document displays how wonderfully aching Ocasek could make a melody work for him. And for us. â€”Patrick Hosken
Charli XCX: “White Mercedes”
Charli XCX’s third studio album, Charli, is more introspective and true to her own personal experiences than her previous releases. Without sacrificing the poppy, digitized production she’s become known for, the singer’s enhanced her art by experimenting with lyrics that not only let people in, but that truly resonate. “White Mercedes,” a track about not being able to return the love that she’s so readily been given, is proof.
“Like a white Mercedes / Always been running too fast,” Charli sings on the chorus, weaving in and out of angelic falsetto. “When your heart is breaking, you keep on taking me back.” Full of warnings, the song toggles between professing love for a partner while pleading to pump the breaks. With lines like “Hurting you feels like I’m hurting as well” and “You’re chasing after something that you’ll never catch,” Charli knows she’s undeserving. But the song’s self-awareness is what sets it apart. “One day I’ll pull through and I’ll be good enough,” she sings on the bridge. Sadly, today’s not that day. â€”Jordyn Tilchen
Blu DeTiger: “Tangerine”
Being cool is painlessly easy for 21-year-old Blu DeTiger. It takes just the effortless opening line of “Tangerine” â€“ “The crown look good on me, don’t it” â€“ and you’re in the palm of her hand. A bumping retro-pop track comes in, simultaneously psychedelic and atmospheric, but with a throbbing bass to hold you down. “Show me love deeper than your bedroom / I wanna write my name on your wall,” she sings. It’s your walk-into-the-room anthem as much as it’s your self-love bathroom mirror solo.
The song and visual evoke the titular fruit with a hodgepodge of sounds, scratches, and synths, as Blu parades through a mindscape of hip apartments, parties, and poses. By the end, you want nothing more than to take a bite of her unique brand of badassery, which she carefully balances with airy lyrics like “This could be your new favorite song.” Indeed, it could be. â€”Carson Mlnarik
Princess Nokia: “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T)”
Oh yes. New York hip-hop hero and public transit protector Princess Nokia is back in a big way with a very specific list of people who had better look out for her. On “Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T.),” Nokia demonstrates that she isn’t afraid to make delineations between offenders. Haters on Instagram? Please, she couldn’t care less. But racists, as she famously demonstrated in 2017, will get a face full of soup. While we don’t know yet if “Sugar Honey” will be part of a forthcoming album, we do know that she released it with a fantastic Ball Culture-inspired video that depicts her entering and, naturally, winning a beauty pageant. Watch the whole thing to see Nokia bestow her winning tiara on a young admirer. â€”Bob Marshall
Charli XCX isn’t the only one conjuring high-gloss, next-level pop these days. Slayyyter’s eponymous mixtape arrived this week with the vigor of a chainsaw dipped in glitter, packed with chaotic, clubby calamities in the vein of Blackout-era Britney and The Fame-era Gaga. “Tattoo,” however, stands out because of its unbridled buoyancy â€” Slayyyter wastes minimal time arriving at the sticky-sweet hook, belting, “Baby, do you like me too? / I can be your new tattoo.” Throw in some subtle saxophone, and you’ve got a bubblegum bop that sounds and feels like an EMOTION outtake. If you know, you know. â€”Madeline Roth
Hue: “Over East”
Out of Portsmouth, Virginia, but recently relocated to New York, Hue is a boom box-toting wizard trapped in a twentysomething’s body. His latest nostalgic release is “Over East,” the equivalent of a sunrise over the East River that smiles to Brooklyn’s inhabitants who grumble as they skittle to subway stations. Drumsticks smack snares like crackling whips, faint voices repeat “ey,” and warmth spreads the song into a blossoming tulip. It’s a delicate, mellow atmosphere that could be extinguished without a deft touch. However, Hue slinks in, whispering between pursed lips as if he’s telling you a secret in the middle of the night, softly singing about what makes him able to “put it down.”
When he tiptoes out of the chorus, his voice grows wider, deeper, and he glides into his verses, bringing simple, nostalgic melodies that remind you of Kofi hats, Enyce jeans, and Coogi sweaters. The nostalgia washes in like waves. If you’re too young, this is what back then sounded and felt like. Play this for your parents. They’ll turn to you, smile, close their eyes, nod their heads, and pat their thighs. â€”Trey Alston
The Cars: “Moving in Stereo”
I still can’t believe Ric Ocasek is gone. It was just last year I watched his performance during The Cars’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction with my father, chatting about the “good old days,” reminiscing on our favorite oldies. I suspected he wasn’t well then, but he blew through his greatest hits on stage with ease. Though my favorite album has to be Candy-O, I still have a special place in my heart for this electro-banger, which amps me up for just about any event that I’m feeling not-so-confident about. How can you not feel like a veritable badass when slowing your walk to this swaggering strut of a song? This particular tune isn’t sung by Ocasek, but it was in fact co-written by him in addition to keyboard player Greg Hawkes â€” and it’s addictive in a way that only certain classic-rock tunes can truly be. I’ll be blaring it over and over again this week in honor of the man himself. â€”Brittany Vincent