Mila Jam's Optimistic Anthem, Girlpool's Dark Adventure, And More Songs We Love11/20/2020
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. And this week, in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance today (November 20), we’re shining the spotlight on trans musicians making vital, important art that’s built to last.
Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
- Teddy Geiger: “I Was In a Cult”
“I Was In a Cult” attacks the raging fury of rebellion with a confident strength. It’s thunderous rock, but controlled: heavy on the drums and electric guitar, but its declaration of breaking from your own chains is unmistakably clear, as Teddy laments on the person she once was in a world of constraints, and revels in the freedom that comes with defining your own reality. “My heart is aching,” she confesses, “but it only brings me close to God.” —Terron Moore
- Dorian Electra ft. The Garden, Quay Dash, D0llywood1: “F the World”
There’s nothing quite like telling the world to fuck off. That’s what Dorian Electra offers on this team-up with, among others, Bronx rapper Quay Dash, who acts as a staid voice amid the chaos of Electra’s glitchy overload. “F the world, it’s a damn joke / Whoever think different, they can suck it and damn choke,” she spits, cleverly tapping into the song’s secondary meaning of sex (and sexual frustration). —Patrick Hosken
- Mila Jam: “Eye on You”
This is and will always be a Mila Jam stan account. “Eyes on You” is the perfect pop song for any chill playlist. In the music video, Jam embodies joy and love. It’s fitting — as she told Billboard in 2019, that is “exactly what every trans woman deserves, what everyone in the [trans] community deserves.” —Zach O’Connor
- Peppermint ft. LaFemmeBear and Mila Jam: “Be Optimistic”
Today (November 20) is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the lives of trans people who were violently killed in the past year. But the trans and gender non-conforming community is so much more than the epidemic of violence that plagues it. Enter “Be Optimistic,” a soulful, R&B-infused new track centering trans joy from Peppermint, LaFemmeBear, and Mila Jam, all Black trans people themselves. LaFemmeBear sets the stage in a powerful spoken-word intro: “We came to remind you, let’s be optimistic / ‘Cause we got this / Listen.” For a truly immersive experience, watch the song’s black-and-white music video, which incorporates on-the-ground footage from Black Lives Matter protests. —Sam Manzella
- Girlpool: “Like I’m Winning It (Porches Remix)”
Earlier this year, the sometimes noisy, sometimes dreamy, always great band Girlpool released a doomy, lusty club cut called “Like I’m Winning It.” It’s since gotten three adventurous remixes; the briefest one comes courtesy of Porches’s Aaron Maine, who lifts it out of darkness into a sparklier realm that nevertheless maintains its melancholy. Do disco balls reflect candlelight? —Patrick Hosken
- Ms. White: “Arizona”
Brooklyn-based pianist and jazz singer Ms. White is arresting from her voice alone — a soulful, cabaret-comfortable tone that would stop anyone dead in their tracks — but she’s also got the lyrics to match. “Arizona,” from her 2019 EP Marina is an emotionally vulgar rip from her diary, a refusal to be muted both sonically and personally as she recounts a relationship where she was mistreated with heartbreaking candidness. “How come I don’t have the code to your front door by now?” she wonders coolly over a jazzy piano before angrily belting out zingers like, “I know your taste buds are so fucking ordinary / But you’ve got to get used to this different-tasting cherry.” Although she recounts a romance with hyper-specificity, there’s an undeniable relatability to her performance and if the dictionary definition for “raw” were a song, this would be it. —Carson Mlnarik
- Kat Cunning: “O’Holy Night”
There aren’t many hills I’m willing to die on, but this is one: Slow, sad Christmas music is the best kind. Need proof? Kat Cunning’s stripped-down cover of a melancholy classic. Backed only by a piano arrangement, Cunning’s impassioned, throaty vocals glisten like tinsel in candlelight. The cover is simpler and less distinct than their original music, but I’m not complaining. Now I just need December to roll around… —Sam Manzella
- Shea Diamond: “So Lucky”
“No more secret lives, nobody’s mistress,” soul singer Shea Diamond emotes on the refrain of this barn-burner, before adding the kicker: “If I die tonight, the world’s my witness.” There’s no brass on this tune, but the music folds in plenty — a squawking guitar solo, an icy backbeat, and the roaring powerhouse vocals of Diamond herself. —Patrick Hosken
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