Bop Shop: Songs From Sam Hunt, IDK, Conan Gray, And More

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.

  • Sam Hunt: “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90’s”

    Modern love might be hard, but modern breakups are even harder. These days, a split isn’t merely accompanied by a broken heart, but by months and months of watching the person you once loved move on without you on social media. “I know it’s not a race, but it looks like you’re gettin’ over me,” Sam Hunt sings on “Breaking Up Was Easy in the 90’s.” Several decades ago this would have been easier.

    “I wouldn’t have a clue what you been up to lately, or who you been up to it with,” the country crooner continues, listing off the ways a pre-Instagram ’90s breakup would’ve lessened the blow. But alas, modern technology has only reopened his wounds. “Try to let you go, somethin’ always reminds me,” he sings on the chorus. “I bet breakin’ up was easy in the ‘90s.” —Jordyn Tilchen

  • Varsity: “Runaway”

    Saxophones are typically not subtle. They make big, brassy sounds the aural equivalent of neon arrows, pointing to a particular musical phrase. That’s why the sly deployment of a sax on Varsity’s “Runaway” feels so crucial — after the Chicago band wraps its first chorus, the wily sax solo slides in to underscore the song’s overall slickness. “Runaway” is a groove without it, but the addition of tasteful horn makes this one feel memorable. Of course, this is all on Varsity’s foundation. Without Stef Smith’s glowing vocals and a proper strutting rhythm from the rest of the band, that reedy skronk wouldn’t have much to embellish in the first place. —Patrick Hosken

  • Girl in Red: “Bad Idea!”

    We’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten involved in relationships we know we shouldn’t have. Why? A momentary lapse of reason, an overpowering need for someone that you can’t quite shake? Sometimes it feels good to be bad, and the only way to achieve that addictive state of mind is by getting tangled up with someone who’s terrible for you in every way.

    But, like Girl in Red demonstrates in this melancholy, deceptively upbeat rocker, it’s OK because they tell you that you’re “so pretty it hurts.” And in the moment, that’s all that really matters, right? Relive the exact moment you realized pursuing this messy affair was detrimental to your mental health… and when you decided it just didn’t matter anymore because you were all in. —Brittany Vincent

  • IDK: “In My White Tee”

    Who gets more surgical with his rhymes than IDK? The rapper’s latest, “In My White Tee,” comes with a black-and-white video that gives the video a classic look. But rest assured, they weren’t rapping like this back in the day. If you were to reanimate a corpse with hellfire and give it a microphone, they still wouldn’t be able to recreate IDK’s “In My White Tee.” —Trey Alston

  • Conan Gray: “Wish You Were Sober”

    All it takes is the opening lyric of Conan Gray’s new single, and I’m back in high school: “This party’s shit / Wish we could dip.” The sad-boi hours pop starlet may have only released his debut album Kid Krow in March, but he’s already YouTube royalty, having received co-signs from the likes of Taylor Swift. He transports us to one of those parties that feels more like a horror movie with “Wish You Were Sober,” as indiscretions, unsung feelings, and liquor mix for the biggest kicker of a cocktail.

    It’s all build-up for the most anthemic chorus of the year, one that deserves to be screamed in a tunnel à la The Perks of Being a Wallflower – or at least listened to at full volume. “Trade drinks but you don’t even know her / Save me ‘til the party is over,” he sings in a mix of dread, anticipation, and madness. “Kiss me in the seat of your Rover / Real sweet, but I wish you were sober.” Excuse me while I go dig out the yearbooks… —Carson Mlnarik

  • The Beths: “Dying to Believe”

    Be it soundtracking your home exercise routine, performing during Zoom karaoke, or just starting a spontaneous one-person dance party to shake out the malaise of isolation, The Beths’s newest banger couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a relentlessly upbeat barrage of electric guitar, punk drums, and sing-along vocal hooks that’s done before you know it, begging for you to hit the repeat button and start it over. The New Zealand band’s sophomore album, Jump Rope Gazers, is out July 10. —Bob Marshall

  • Lil Mexico: “News”

    South Carolina rapper Lil Mexico’s voice slides over booming beats as if he were cutting through icy mountain winds on a snowboard. “News,” the latest from the melody-making musician, thumps as hard as it can, utilizing the rapper’s smooth voice to soften the blows as each bass hit bumps against your chest. His voice goes low and it gets high and as it jumps around its register, you’re constantly surprised at which notes he hits. “News” is a smooth listen. It’s something that I’m going to keep coming back to. —Trey Alston

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