Bop Shop: Covers From Harry Styles, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande, 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.
This week, in honor of some great new covers, we’re highlighting those times when your favorite artists take songs they didn’t write and totally make them their own. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
- Niall Horan and Fletcher: “Lover” (Taylor Swift cover)
Taylor Swift’s “Lover” — with its timeless lyrics and romantic imagery — became an instant classic when it was released last summer ahead of her seventh studio album of the same name. But the song’s ability to transport us to a dimly lit wedding reception after hours has now been challenged by Niall Horan and Fletcher’s cover, which feels more like witnessing an intimate live performance à la Ally and Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born.
Together, Horan and Fletcher created a vibe much different from the original, trading in Swift’s booming snare and slow-paced strums for an electric guitar that just won’t quit. And when their voices melt into each other on the chorus, it becomes clear: This cover tells a different love story than Swift’s entirely. Instead of being tender and sweet, Horan and Fletcher are passionate, electric, and a little bit rock and roll. —Jordyn Tilchen
- Harry Styles: “Girl Crush” (Little Big Town cover)
I have never been able to find the right way to describe this cover of the controversy-starting Little Big Town hit. It’s sad, and filled with longing, and more than a little green with envy. It’s also, I posit, a little happy — that the former flame found someone so perfect as to inspire a whole song, that both the “you” and the “she” deserve to be happy. Even if the person they’re happy with isn’t the singer. There has been more than one heartbreak session where I’ve listened to it nonstop. That simple guitar is so plaintive and so soothing in single-song repeat mode.
That Harry didn’t change the pronouns on the song, whose queer subtext has long been debated, makes it that much more intriguing. I get the impulse to change the directive if you’re covering a song, but I also long for the day when it isn’t radical to present the pronouns as they are. This cover isn’t the most groundbreaking instance of normalization, but it is a start. —Ella Cerón
- Haim: “Panini” (Lil Nas X cover)
As a quick YouTube scan reveals, Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim are chameleonic cover masters. They’ve gotten creative for Selena Gomez, gone minimalist for Robyn, and thrown a party for Shania Twain. In 2019, long before dropping powerful new single “The Steps,” the sisters faithfully took on Lil Nas X’s “Panini” — before veering off script into Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” a tune whose melody “Panini” interpolates. It’s a masterful music history lesson in two and a half minutes. —Patrick Hosken
- Paramore: “Passionfruit” (Drake cover)
Paramore didn’t cover Drake’s “Passionfruit.” In an alternate universe, it was their hit record before Drake sent the link to this universe (because they’ve figured out time travel) with three simple words: “Make this yours.” How else can you explain how natural Hayley Williams’s windy voice sounds as she nails this cover over the live instrumentation at BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge? Naked guitars fill up its quiet spaces, followed by Williams’s heavy-breathed whispers that offset your sense of balance. It sounds so foreign but so right. There definitely should have been an official remix featuring Paramore. —Trey Alston
- Frank Ocean: “Moon River” (Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer, Audrey Hepburn cover)
You can’t talk about “Moon River” without talking about Frank Ocean’s 2018 cover of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s classic, and that’s the sign of a damn good cover. Frank puts the Blonded touch on the simply sung Audrey Hepburn track, keeping the arrangement straightforward and letting his vocals and Vocoder do the talking. The song somehow feels even more intimate, spinning out in a mix of loneliness, loss, love, and optimism. Aren’t we really all drifters off to see the world? There’s such a crazy world to see. —Carson Mlnarik
- Cayetana: “Age of Consent” (New Order cover)
Recently disbanded Philly band Cayetana’s spin on the post-punk classic is having a bit of a renaissance since being featured in To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You during Laura Jean’s baking montage. (Foreshadowing alert: No relationship is going to have an easy time after “Age of Consent” plays!) At first, Cayetana’s cover is pretty faithful to the original New Order hit outside of the female vocals, slightly slower tempo, and use of a drum machine to substitute in for Stephen Morris (a.k.a. “The Human Drum Machine”). But the band makes the track their own right before the outro, when the thunderous live snare kicks in and the song kicks into high gear. —Bob Marshall
- Denzel Curry: “Bulls on Parade” (Rage Against the Machine cover)
Before you hear Rage do the real thing at Coachella this year, it’s worth revisiting the ascendant Florida rapper and his crew absolutely burning this one down to the ground on Australia’s Triple J radio in 2019. The bass crunches and the guitar squeals, but nothing howls louder than Curry himself, who inserts a verse from his own song “Sirens” in the middle of the chaos. —Patrick Hosken
- Holy Ghost!: “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (Drake cover)
Drake already slayed the original, but Holy Ghost! infused this version with a slinky, sexy atmosphere that feels like dancing up on the object of your affection at the club and eagerly anticipating the night you’ll have as soon as you’re somewhere, uh, private. I can never resist listening to this version if I’m particularly feeling myself, because this is the one that gives me license to feel like a total boss babe. —Brittany Vincent
- Miley Cyrus & Ariana Grande: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Crowded House cover)
Some of the best showcases of Miley Cyrus’s voice always happen during her Backyard Session videos, (e.g. “Jolene”), where the pop superstar sings acoustic covers of some of her favorite songs in, you guessed it, her backyard. For this particular 2015 episode, Cyrus is joined by none other than Ariana Grande to cover Crowded House’s 1986 hit, “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” They’re seated on a green blow-up couch and dressed in animal onesie pajamas (Miley a unicorn and Ari a mouse or a bear, they both aren’t sure), and there is something magical about two pop powerhouses stripping down a song and making it sound so effortlessly beautiful. The uplifting message to persevere is an added bonus and a common theme in both singers’ music. Cyrus and Grande also reunited to perform the cover once more in 2017 at Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert. —Alissa Godwin
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