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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.
Daniel Johnston: “True Love Will Find You in the End”
The world lost a songwriting legend this week when Austin-based musician Daniel Johnston died from a heart attack at age 58. Johnston, whose battles with depression and mental illness are detailed in the 2005 documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, became an inspiration to many, breaking into the public conscious when Kurt Cobain wore one of his shirts to the 1992 VMAs.
But aside from the mythologizing about Johnston’s mental state, odd behavior, and eccentricities, what kept him inspiring generations of musicians was his ability to completely and beautifully pour himself into his songs. Johnston’s high, fragile voice may waver on “True Love Will Find You in the End” as he ponders his loneliness and heartbreak. But he encourages himself and listeners to keep going despite hardships, promising that things will eventually work out. They have to, right?
If the many online tributes (including this one) in his memory are any indication, in the end, Daniel was truly loved. —Bob Marshall
MAX ft. Kim Petras: “Love Me Less”
What would happen if a lover knew your entire past? We’re talking skeletons in the closet, late-night phone calls, the things you don’t tell anyone — would it change anything? MAX explores the insecurities in a new mix of his pop banger that never stops bouncing. He wonders with a smile and audible sincerity, “Would you love me less / If I had a dollar for my sins / If you knew the beds that I’ve been in?”
Kim Petras adds her signature flossy flair to the track, begging her lover to not think any less if she spent all the cash on designer bags: “Hundred-fifty thousand, and it’s just the weekend.” In the bridge, the two seem to find resolve vocalizing to the idea that perhaps our flaws make us more appealing in the end after all. From its opening beats ’til their thoughts ring out, it’s pure pop triumph. —Carson Mlnarik
King Princess: “Ain’t Together”
In 2019, gone are the days of app-less dating and only saying “I love you” when you truly mean it. Now, the person you’re casually seeing is also dating five other people, and expressing love just means you vibe with someone more than 80 percent of your Snapchat friends. It’s confusing. And King Princess gets it.
On “Ain’t Together,” a slow-burning track about the uncertainty of real feelings starting to develop, the 20-year-old daydreams of something as simple as exclusivity and as frightening as falling in love. “We say, ‘I love you,’ but we ain’t together,” she sings on the chorus. “Do you think labels make it taste much better?” After much contemplation, she decides she’s ready take their relationship to the next step, one where they won’t constantly have to remind each other that they “ain’t together” because, finally, they are. —Jordyn Tilchen
Foster the People: “Pick U Up”
After having a particularly stressful week, I was overjoyed to see Foster the People returning with another track that has me grooving in my seat even when I’m so anxious about sorting out life issues I can’t pay attention. There’s no eloquent explanation I have for why I love the song, nor will I pretend it speaks to any intimate part of my soul. It’s just damn catchy and it reminds me of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. I can’t wait for the band to finally debut a new album that I can immediately fall for all over again, which I’m hoping is around the corner soon, so I can say “Oh hi, Mark!” as soon as it drops. —Brittany Vincent
Tove Lo ft. Kylie Minogue: “Really Don’t Like U”
2019 is nothing if not full of surprises. Though notorious sad girl Tove Lo and longtime pop princess Kylie Minogue may seem like an unlikely pair, their collaboration on “Really Don’t Like U” proves otherwise. Though simple, the lyrics — accompanied by a super nostalgic retro-electro beat — speak to the universal feeling of not liking an ex’s new girl without any actual reason (except for the fact that she exists). I know, this sounds extremely petty. But it’s universal. With solo verses at the top and in between, Lo and Minogue harmonize on the chorus, singing, “I know I’ve got no right to / Really, I just don’t like you / Look prettier than I do tonight / You make it hard to have a good time.” It’s a classic Tove Lo bop, but adding Kylie’s general presence makes it fresh and exciting. I can already imagine a techno remix blaring inside every nightclub, hopefully after a magical rendition of Kylie’s “Spinning Around” (one of the best songs ever made, don’t @ me). —Sarina Bhutani
Green Day: “Father of All”
Green Day‘s new song, “Father of All” is so 2004 that it literally uses a zoomed-in, graffiti’d piece of American Idiot as its cover art. This swaggering Meet Me in the Bathroom-era firestorm sounds like leather jackets and Levi’s in a grungy dive bathroom — on set of a commercial to sell both denim and beer. And it’s great! Billie Joe Armstrong sheds his typical oblong whine for an impressive Jack White falsetto, a comparison made even clearer by monster guitars. (It’s more Raconteurs than White Stripes, but you get it.) Spotify auto-played “When I Come Around” directly after “Father of All” and I got whiplash. What a gift to be pushing 50 and making music that sounds authentically 22. Thank heaven for 2004. —Patrick Hosken
Shaded Zu ft. Sunny Moonshine and Mercialago: “Cafe”
Shaded Zu is actually two different people in one. He’s a rapper, but his alter ego is Fake Uzumi, a wunderkind producer who can blend aspects of techno, house, hip-hop, and R&B into a uniform mixture; his work is fuzzy, warm, and vibrant enough to cause a smile to stretch across your face while you bob your head dangerously fast. “Cafe,” from his recently released project Xtra Large, is an indiscriminate mix of soft sounds and optimistic energy, like an early morning coffee trek in the rain. Its chill groove is built around a relaxing electric piano, and it slowly sucks you in with featured singer Sunny Moonshine’s hypnotizing chanting of “What can I do for you?” Zu’s dizzying lifestyle rhymes slide in behind her, offering a bit about himself and a clever punchline about his familial relationship with the Man in the Moon. No matter how you were feeling before, this song just leaves you feeling good inside. —Trey Alston
Lucy Dacus: “Dancing in the Dark”
Imagine covering Bruce Springsteen in 2019. What can you even do with a song like “Dancing in the Dark” at this point, apart from what the film Blinded By the Light does beautifully during its lightning-strike moment? If you’re Lucy Dacus, the answer is quite a lot. As one of the most talented songwriters and musicians of her generation, Dacus reinvents the well-worn ’80s staple as a surging slice of motorik-powered post-punk fringed with youthful optimism. She makes it feel simply new. What a miracle. —Patrick Hosken
Pet Shop Boys ft. Years & Years: “Dreamland”
Eighties synth-pop legends Pet Shop Boys (you know, the “West End Girls” guys) have teamed with synth-pop heroes of today Years & Years for a new explosive new dance track. “Dreamland” is a duet for PSB’s Neil Tenant and Y&Y’s Olly Alexander, uniting two outspoken LGBTQ frontmen whose influence now spans generations. PSB clearly respect their younger counterparts, calling Years & Years “one of the most original and successful bands to emerge this decade” in a statement to NME. Pet Shop Boys’s first album in over two decades drops in January, and they’re planning a U.K. greatest hits tour to support the album in 2020. —Bob Marshall