Bop Shop: Songs From Kaiit, Koda Kumi, Black Midi, And More
Getty/YouTube/Alt. Music Group Pty Ltd Australia/300 Entertainment
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.
Kaiit: “Miss Shiney”
It’s bold to sing a lyric about putting your own song on replay, but in the case of Kaiit’s “Miss Shiney,” it’s more an act of self-preservation than pretentiousness. On the funky new single, the Australian artist details her flaws — overthinking, pointless stressing, and being too hard on herself — while affirming that the pressure produces “diamonds.” The 20-year-old explained on Instagram that “these sounds and words I’ve chosen are reminders for me to listen to when I be on my self-sabotaging BS,” and that’s something we can all benefit from. Bonus: The video is a work of art, and a must-see for fans of glittery eyebrows, flower-adorned vintage cars, elaborate panning shots, or all of the above. Listen and exhale. —Madeline Roth
Black Midi: “Talking Heads”
Black Midi defies categorization. But if I had to, the band would fall somewhere in the prog/psych/krautrock/metal/pop realm, if that’s helpful at all. Boasting a litany of musical influences that span decades and genres, the young group (all four members are either 19 or 20) is challenging musical conventions as only a group of young idealists can. On “Talking Heads,” a wild, spastic yet bouncy track named after another forward-thinking, innovative band you’ve probably heard of, Black Midi show off not only their playing chops, but their devotion to melody. Weird, sure, but never off-putting. The band’s debut album, Schlagenheim, is due out June 21 on Rough Trade. —Bob Marshall
Koda Kumi: “Pop Diva”
I missed out on much of the new crop of music this week and spent some time away from new pop culture, so this week’s entry is a delectable pop treat from 2011. It’s the inimitable Koda Kumi, second only in my heart to Ayumi Hamasaki. This piece of electro-pop goodness is called “Pop Diva,” and it goes hard. You’re going to want to jump up out of your seat for this one. And then throw on your freshest gear, get your hair done, and ball out, because it’s all about being the best. Basically, the entire song is about Koda Kumi coming through with the swagger this pop queen oozes from every pore. “You know I’m the top diva,” she asserts. “Most beautiful, powerful, and talented girl on the planet.” Look, you’ll hear no objections from me, Kuu-chan! —Brittany Vincent
TC Superstar: “Into You”
This Austin octet is as experimental as they’re essential and as cerebral as they’re eccentric. Their dreamy synth pop begs you to dance along, but in a free-flowing, movement-based, lose-yourself-in-the-beat-type of way — with less choreography and more theatricality. In fact, the group takes their physical communication so seriously that four of the eight members are solely dancers.
Their lucid movements couple with their contemplative lyrics perfectly in the visual for “Into You.” The track begins with a grand musing on the meaning of love and heartbreak in the modern age, quickly followed by mid-tempo synths and a plucking guitar that dares you not to bob your head. The song’s central lyric, “Are you into me / Like I’m into you,” takes on different shapes, sizes, and feelings depending on the listener, and what plays as an anticipatory ode to new love can sound like unrequited unhappiness to another. The group waxes poetic in an earnest outro, relegating their sweeping deductions into unadulterated intimations. This band clearly knows who they are – and now you do, too. —Carson Mlnarik
Hoodrich Pablo Juan: “Grind For Mine”
Hoodrich Pablo Juan’s voice is cold and hoarse, menacing while being a gravelly whisper. It makes the Atlanta rapper’s music often sound better — the way Morgan Freeman narrates practically anything and you become interested in it. Maybe that’s why his new release, “Grind For Mine,” courses through my veins so effortlessly. It’s a fierce 808s feast of threats, violence, and fiery mayhem that Juan sends an icy breeze through in a deep, booming baritone. There’s something sparkly about the combined effect. —Trey Alston
NCT 127: “Highway To Heaven”
In the years since making their bombastic debut, NCT 127 have carved out a distinct place for themselves in the saturated Korean pop market. Heavy bass lines. Intense swagger. Powerful choreography. And a strong emphasis on hip-hop, which allows rappers Taeyong and Mark room to flex while the 10-member group’s criminally underused vocalists are given room to soar on the bridge. But the group’s latest release, the polished “Highway To Heaven,” is nothing like what we’ve come to expect from the confident ensemble — and that’s precisely what makes it so remarkable.
The shimmering synth-pop song sounds more like a Carly Rae Jepsen B-side than anything in NCT’s discography. (Even the simple black-and-white visual they debuted on the U.S. leg of their Neo City tour is atypical NCT.) “Highway To Heaven” is structured almost entirely around the group’s vocalists — the layered vocals on the hook make it feel massive — and even the rap verses are more melodic than anything we’ve heard on previous singles. The dreamy track keeps expanding as you listen; by the time vocalist Haechan delivers his heart-stopping note on the bridge, your head is already in the clouds. It’s the kind of euphoric pop song that’s perfect for long drives on summer nights, windows down and singing at the top of your lungs. If this is what NCT 127’s We Are Superhuman era has to offer, then I’m all in (and ready to buy a car just so I can listen to this on repeat). —Crystal Bell
Hoodrich Pablo Juan