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 week, in honor of Pride Month, we’ve been celebrating Queer Music Week by highlighting how TikTok has become a key platform for emerging LGBTQ+ musicians and the ways pop artists have gotten bolder and more explicit in singing about queer sex. That’s all in addition to conversations with forward-thinking LGBTQ+ artists Blue Rojo, Muna, and Trixie Mattel.
Now, for this week’s music round-up, we shine the spotlight on LGBTQ+ musicians making art that feels vital to this moment. Get ready: The Queer Music Week Bop Shop is open for business.
Kidd Kenn: “Body”
Chicago’s Kidd Kenn has been rapping since he was an actual kid(d), which, all things considered, was not that long ago. But all that practice has paid off. “Body,” the dynamic talent’s latest single, is extraordinarily bouncy, packed tight with memorable zingers (“House like a maze / Bitch, I never age”) delivered in an unbeatable flow. The charisma carries over to the video, which finds him playing with his stage name — as a play thing in complete control. Attention, Greta Gerwig: There’s still time to cast Kidd Kenn for a cameo in your upcoming Barbie movie. (At this point, he seems like the only person not in it?) —Patrick Hosken
Fletcher: “Her Body Is Bible”
If you’re feeling intense sapphic feelings for a beautiful lady, Fletcher can relate. The New Jersey-based singer-songwriter compares the discovery of her feelings for her lover to religious ecstasy: “I found God / The moment I put my lips on yours,” she sings. She isn’t shy to say that her blood is running wild (“You’re so hot, I’m freaking out”), or that she would rather see her love interest unclothed (“I like your T-Swift T-shirt on the ground”) and worship her in the dim light. —Athena Serrano
Sudan Archives: “Selfish Soul”
Sudan Archives combats Eurocentric beauty standards with this sumptuous song. She chooses to accept what makes her feel whole and feeds her “selfish” soul, alternating between her fabulous buzzcut and bright pink wig in the music video. The singer and her crew of Black femmes bask in the freeform glory of their collective individuality, swaddled by the joyful whirlwind of her melodic violin. “OK, one time if I grow it long,” she sings. “Am I good enough, am I good enough / About time I embrace myself and soul.” —Gwyn Cutler
Saiah: “5 Minutes Til Dawn”
Arizona-based pop-punk singer Saiah makes being cool look effortless in their new banging, late-night bop “5 Minutes Til Dawn.” Crafting an ethereal space where their pop, punk, and rock influences intersect, the queer Black singer-songwriter waxes poetic about a waning romance. “And I feel better alone / You been in the city cause you want to be one,” they sing, before the track’s chorus builds to a cathartic scream of “5 minutes till dawn.” Thanks to its stylish visual and nocturnal appeal, it feels like a contemporary “Sunglasses at Night,” complete with yearning and the dual threats of falling in love or falling apart. —Carson Mlnarik
Allison Ponthier: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery”
Campy as hell and charming in how it really goes there, Allison Ponthier’s latest visual is an ode to one of the most famous (and glamorous) graveyards in the world. Like she did with “Cowboy,” the Texas-born singer-songwriter leans into B-movie terrain here, this time to throw a spooky party in the catacombs as she sings the biggest question: “Who are you after you die?” Sounds like a good, if existential, time to me. —Patrick Hosken
Durand Bernarr: “Company”
I love when a song oozes sex appeal and still champions mutual pleasure, trust, and comfort. Rising American singer-songwriter and producer Durand Bernarr’s single, “Company,” from his 2020 album Dur&. For starters, the song hooks the listener instantly with its opening line: “I’m good camaraderie / Your submission’s safe with me / I just wanna make you feel good internally.” Bernarr sets the scene: “Know you’re not used to having company over / So let me sing a little lullaby/ When I get in, I’ma help you ease your mind.” Runs, harmonies, and sensual lyrics converge in this song that is as confident as it is commanding. This lullaby is taking us to bed, but we aren’t sleeping. —Virginia Lowman
Queen: “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy”
The lead vocalist of the classic rock band Queen, the late bisexual icon Freddie Mercury sings about being an old-fashioned lover on this throwback track. He likes doing traditional things with his partner on a night of romance, whether it’s dancing the tango or dining at the Ritz in London. But he also feels something inside sizzling, too: “I learned my passion / In the good old-fashioned / School of lover boys,” Mercury sings with a wink. Say the word, your wish is his command. —Athena Serrano
Sam Smith: “Love Me More”
Pride is a time for partying, but also for finding strength in your identity. “Love Me More,” Sam Smith’s latest offering, finds the sweet spot between sappy self-empowerment and melancholic bop as they sing about their journey to self-acceptance. “Every day I’m tryin’ not to hate myself / But lately, it’s not hurtin’ like it did before,” they sing, resolving that “Maybe I am learning how to love me more.” What starts as a solemn reflection consisting of their unmistakable vocals and low piano chords builds into a triumphant and swaggering pop track, complete with a holy chorus. Its self-referential visual is a gem for anyone who’s followed the British soul singer’s career closely, with nods to the video for their debut single “Stay With Me,” their retooled third album “To Die For,” and vignettes of the unapologectically queer community that’s formed around them. —Carson Mlnarik
Betty Who: “Blow Out My Candle”
Betty Who is back with an upbeat ‘80s-inspired pop anthem about her newfound self-love and confidence. “I won’t stop running down that road / I’ll keep dancing ’til I die,” she sings. “You can blow out my candle / But you’ll never put out my fire.” A fantastic banger for dancing or working out (as the music video suggests), and always for expressing yourself spontaneously and freely. Don’t stop running down that road. —Athena Serrano