Bop Shop: Songs From Alex Cameron, Comethazine, Ava Max, And More
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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.
Alex Cameron: “Divorce”
“I got friends in Kansas City with a motherfucking futon couch, if that’s how you wanna play it,” poet laureate of sleaze Alex Cameron proclaims on his song “Divorce.” It’s important to mention that 1) This is hilarious, and 2) It’s seemingly meant in at least half-jest, like much of the wet insight Sydney songwriter spills. Like Father John Misty before him, Cameron’s persona — a louche caricature rubbing up against tropes of toxic masculinity — feels like a construct, but one through which he can reveal uncomfortable truths about himself. He says his new album, Miami Memory, out September 13, is grounded in reality and calls it “the story of a couple balancing sex with contemporary family values.” Could it be his Tunnel of Love? Let the glockenspiel answer that question. —Patrick Hosken
Kindness ft. Jazmine Sullivan: “Hard to Believe”
As we spend the next few weeks trudging through peak summer heat, why not get down to a song that actually makes sweating feel good? Well friends, Adam Bainbridge, a.k.a. British-based vocalist and producer Kindness, has a new track called “Hard to Believe,” and it’s just the kind of steamy dance song that your July needs. Featuring the vocal prowess of R&B singer-songwriter Jazmine Sullivan, the duet reaches its climax in the chorus with a singalong chorus that goes “Gimme your love, all your love, all your love now / I know it’s hard to believe how I get down.” Kindness’s first album in five years, Something Like a War, is out September 6. —Bob Marshall
Grace VanderWaal: “Ur So Beautiful”
Grace VanderWaal was only 12 when she auditioned for America’s Got Talent with her ukulele ode to being an outcast, “I Don’t Know My Name.” Not only was she crowned the Season 11 winner, but three years later, it seems she knows herself better than ever before, as especially evident on her new single, “Ur So Beautiful.” Through understated production and her signature rasp, Grace shows incredible growth and mastery of sound – and totally has me in my feels.
The song is a visual experience that begs you to add it to your rainy-day playlist with its opening lines, “Lower East Side and it’s pouring out / Don’t you look right at me now.” With undeniably cool confidence and introspection that reads beyond her years, Grace contemplates a beautiful person taking up real estate in her head and the nerve that comes with the intrigue. The chorus is simple but effective as VanderWaal croons over and over, “Damn, you’re so beautiful / And don’t know you it,” reiterating the cyclical nature of attraction and the way a lover’s face tends to replay in our heads, just like you’ll want to replay this bop. —Carson Mlnarik
Comethazine: “Just Saying”
Comethazine was the surprise pick for XXL’s 2019 Freshman Class. He had a minor hit in “Walk” that peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart. He also boasts four mixtapes’ worth of material, comparisons to Playboi Carti and MadeinTYO, and a couple videos shot by Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett — putting him in the liminal space between being taken seriously by hip-hop’s fanbase and being written off as a cartoonish personality.
But what makes his music so enthralling is the fact that the sounds made by this former auto mechanic (“I could take apart a whole car in like an hour and put that shit back,” he’s revealed) don’t sound tinkered with. His songs often end up a collection of sneering and sneaky raps that connected by a string of anger. His latest release, “Just Saying,” continues the trend of loose, never sloppy rap for villain roundtables. There’s not necessarily anything risqué about it lyrically, and the production is simple and inviting, hesitant to really tweak its boilerplate setup. But Comethazine, unlike many rappers, honestly relies on the twist and snarl of his lips through each word, how they sit like fire in the ears. “Just Saying” is like eating cake while knowing you should have dinner first. —Trey Alston
Rina Sawayama: “Cyber Stockholm Syndrome”
Out of all of my favorite artists, no one has ever been able to capture the feeling of being in love and being Extremely Online most of my life. I’ve spent so many hours instant messaging, emailing, and texting with others, creating an intimate world in which it feels like we’re the only ones there. Here, Sawayama’s sentiment “Came here on my own / Party on my phone” hits so close to home it’s uncanny. Learning that I’m far more comfortable communicating through text and online was a pivotal part of grown-up for me, and Sawayama’s song reminds me I’m not alone in that regard. Plus, it’s too much like an early 2000s R&B bop, and that’s what I love the most about it. Don’t sleep on Rina. —Brittany Vincent
Ava Max ft. NCT 127: “So Am I”
What do you get when you mix a budding pop princess with a group of K-pop phenoms? A certified bop, that’s what. For her follow-up to breakout smash “Sweet But Psycho,” Ava Max continued championing outsiders on “So Am I,” which now has a buzzy remix featuring NCT 127. Max cooly crushes societal norms with her growly verses, while the guys contribute some fresh bars, singing, “Baby you’re lit, so am I / I think you’re real, so am I / I like your walk and your vibe.” It’s a misfit anthem with international flair, and a rallying cry we can all get behind. Let that freak flag fly! —Madeline Roth
Chung Ha: “Young in Love”
Summer songs are typically associated with massive drops and efficient trop-pop beats, but there’s something to be said for the feel-good, mid-tempo jam. Chung Ha’s “Young in Love” captures the simple feeling of a lazy summer afternoon without all the noise; it’s just funky synths, chill guitars, and the Korean pop star’s soft, soulful voice. Co-written by R&B songstress Yerin Baek — that guitar riff is her signature — the breezy song is perfect for rooftop soirées and laid-back nights with a chilled beverage. And when it’s time to turn up with a fierce, catchy anthem, Chung Ha has a song for that too: “Snapping.” —Crystal Bell