Bop Shop: Songs From BTS, Lil Uzi Vert, Charly Bliss, 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.
To choose one song from Map of the Soul: Persona is a Herculean task that I honestly don’t wish on anyone, least of all me. In fact, I will be writing a strongly worded tweet to the Bop Shop editor (hi, Pat) to express the emotional distress this caused me. Because here’s the thing: BTS are incapable of producing anything but bops. And while the Korean septet’s latest single “Boy With Luv” — a fizzy, upbeat collaboration with Halsey — is the brightest and boppiest of bops, it’s braggadocios album closer “Dionysus” that deserves your immediate respect.
On the surface, it sounds like a track that resulted from a boozy game of Mad Libs: a stadium banger inspired by the Greek god Dionysus (god of wine) and Korean folk music that mixes hip-hop with prog rock. It’s a total anomaly, a song that absolutely should not work, and yet, it’s everything I love about BTS in one song. It’s wildly ambitious, clever, confident, and bursting with personality (Jin is wailing in those background vocals). On “Dionysus,” BTS get drunk on their own artistry and claim they’re thirsty for more. “If we’re there, wherever it is in the world, it’s a stadium party,” Suga raps. “Born as a K-pop idol and reborn as an artist.”
Whatever preconceived notions you may have about K-pop or Korean music or BTS, “Dionysus” obliterates them. All hail Bangtan, our nu-screamo kings. —Crystal Bell
Banx & Ranx ft. Olivia Holt and ZieZie: “Speaker”
So last year, as individuals, Banx & Ranx and Olivia Holt each put out a sleeper bop of 2018: the former leveraging Ella Eyre and Yxng Bane on the twerk-ready “Answerphone,” the latter serving vocals on Martin Jensen’s “16 Steps.” So it’s only right that on “Speaker,” they’re a perfect match: inside a calypso-infused electronic jungle, Holt and ZieZie get tantalizingly close on a track meant for your summer dance party. —Terron Moore
Lil Uzi Vert: “Sanguine Paradise”
When “Free Uzi” came out, I was disappointed. Not in the pitch-changed voice that made the rapper more nasally than usual, but in the choice of production. Lil Uzi Vert doesn’t sound as good on darker beats. My heart sank. Could Uzi be crumbling under the controversy with his label?
Turns out, no. Of course not. He released two new songs this week, “Sanguine Paradise” and “That’s A Rack.” Of the two, “Sanguine Paradise” is prettier, glitzier, and, ultimately, more in line with the contemporary Uzi aesthetic. Uzi’s never been a trap rapper so, over the course of his career, he’s used melodies and fuzzier beats to move into a more vivacious space. “Sanguine Paradise” recognizes this move and stays in the logical explanation of it. It’s a dashing bit of fun with some rattling bass that doesn’t overstep its boundaries. The song’s all spaceships and unicorns.
Is it safe to say that Uzi is back in his bag? That much is still up in the air. And “That’s A Rack” hints at a someone who’s at a crossroads, exploring the past to figure out how to move in the present. But let the lush nostalgia of “Sanguine Paradise” entice him to stay the path. This is one retreat that everyone will enjoy. —Trey Alston
Tayla Parx ft. Joey Bada$: “Rebound”
You might know Tayla Parx’s songwriting (she’s helped pen “thank u, next,” “7 rings,” “High Hopes,” and a litany of other hits) better than you know her actual voice, but that’s quickly changing. Her debut album, We Need To Talk, arrived last week, dexterously blending pop, R&B, electro, and whatever other sonic territories Parx decided to make her playground. Most of the 15 tracks don’t make it past the three-minute mark, but one that (thankfully) earns overtime is “Rebound.” Over a sprightly beat, Parx fires off pun after pun about bouncing back from a hook-up, cooly coaxing a player to “shoot your shot.” Game on. —Madeline Roth
The Revivalists: “Wish I Knew You”
This may not be the newest song Bop Shop has ever touted, but it’s one of the funkiest.
There’s a theme that resonates at the tune’s core: “I wish I knew you when I was young.” While there isn’t an official meaning touted by the band, with vocalist David Shaw preferring to leave the meaning purposefully mysterious, we can surmise it’s about two would-be lovers who found each other at one point in their youth, drifted apart, and didn’t pursue a relationship – whatever kind you want it to be. Maybe they tried and failed. Maybe they’re meeting just now for the first time? Whatever’s going on, it definitely makes you want to shake what you’ve got.
For me, I view it as an ode to my fiancé. I wish I had met him when I was younger, instead of wasting so much time on things (and people) that didn’t matter. But rather than being upset about it, it’s a tune that reinforces how happy I am to be with him, and we can dance the night away now even while we think about what could have been had we met earlier in life. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. We have each other now, and we have this song.
So Friday night, Holy Ghost, take me to where this song is playing, because it’s definitely one I love the most. —Brittany Vincent
Brooks & Dunn ft. Kacey Musgraves: “Neon Moon”
A rundown bar, a neon sign in a smoke-filled room, and a jukebox playing some sad song that seems to say what you think. Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” sets a scene as honky-tonk as ever, but when bathed in Kacey Musgraves’ authentic, earthy vocals, it seems to take on a new level of universality. Revamping the country classic with her magic touch, the production gives off Golden Hour vibes as hints of vocoder duel alongside a ringing steel guitar. Backed by Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, Kacey gives even the loneliest soul a moment of solace, even if it’s just for a second as the neon light flickers on and off. It’s no wonder why the arrangement was a hit for the Grammy winner when she sang it on tour this past summer, and why we – and our broken hearts – are so happy she immortalized it in this studio version. —Carson Mlnarik
Charly Bliss: “Hard To Believe”
The third and latest single from Charly Bliss’s forthcoming sophomore album is more indie-rock banger than bop, infused with the frustrated angst of being hopelessly addicted to a bad relationship. Singing over a Strokes-y power-pop swagger, frontwoman Eva Hendricks breathlessly admits “Tomorrow is coming, it’s always so ugly / Tomorrow is coming, I know you don’t love me.” The New York four-piece’s new LP Young Enough is out May 10. —Bob Marshall
Khalid ft. John Mayer: “Outta My Head”
John Mayer’s gray-temple third act finds him thriving in that sweet spot between funky adult contemporary and breezy pop; last year’s “New Light” was the apotheosis. He continues the run on Khalid’s undeniable “Outta My Head” by wisely ceding vocal space to the 21-year-old wunderkind — it’s Khalid’s song, after all — and supplying wiggly, sharp guitar lines where appropriate. As a smart nod to Channel Orange, it’s also late-2010s Mayer’s true destiny. His voice doesn’t occupy precious real estate anymore. He leaves it to his trusty Fender. —Patrick Hosken
Naughty Boy ft. Calum Scott: “Undo”
It’s unusual for a song about remorse to lead the listener to dance about the room, but Naughty Boy and Calum Scott’s “Undo” will lead you to do just that. While the lyrics may be about wanting to “undo” the mistakes of a failed relationship, the melancholy message is countered by the song’s dancehall vibe. Let’s be real: We’ve all wanted to press rewind in a relationship at one point or another. Now, instead of wallowing in regret with the lights off, there’s a bop that will encourage you to dance as you wail about your mistakes. If you’re so moved, the tropical beat may even lead you to book a trip to the Caribbean — everyone knows broken hearts and regret are better dealt with on the beach. —Virginia Lowman
Lil Uzi Vert