Heat Check: The Marías can teach you how to perform with an ex

And who should perform at the Usher tribute at the BET Awards.
The Marías is an LA-based band that includes Atlanta-raised lead singer María Zardoya, drummer Josh Conway, guitarist Jesse Perlman and keyboardist Edward James. They dropped their sophomore album "Submarine" on May 31, 2024. Credit: Nice Life/Atlantic Records

Credit: Nice Life/Atlantic Records

Credit: Nice Life/Atlantic Records

The Marías is an LA-based band that includes Atlanta-raised lead singer María Zardoya, drummer Josh Conway, guitarist Jesse Perlman and keyboardist Edward James. They dropped their sophomore album "Submarine" on May 31, 2024. Credit: Nice Life/Atlantic Records

Welcome to Heat Check, a biweekly music column where AJC culture reporter DeAsia Paige explores the temperature of Georgia’s buzzing, expansive music scene. The column includes music news, trends and any Georgia-related music that DeAsia is listening to. If you’re a Georgia artist and have music you want to be considered for this column — or if you just want to talk music — feel free to send an email to deasia.paige@ajc.com.

The Marías take a deep dive into a breakup on ‘Submarine’

The Marías are back. The L.A.-based indie pop band is named after lead singer María Zardoya, who was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta. The quartet also includes drummer and producer Josh Conway, guitarist Jesse Perlman and keyboardist Edward James. The band dropped their sophomore album “Submarine” on Friday. “Submarine” follows their 2021 Grammy-nominated debut “Cinema.”

Since then, the group has become known for their jazz-infused pop grooves sung in English and Spanish. But they haven’t done that while experiencing a major breakup in the group. Until now.

By the time the band worked on “Submarine,” Zardoya and Conway (the band’s main songwriters) ended their eight-year relationship. But don’t worry, “Submarine” doesn’t have the messy romantic melodramatic back story of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours.” The 14-track album uses ethereal pop as a guide for taking a deep dive into loneliness and isolation.

Take “No One Noticed,” a track backed by dreamy, low-tempo guitar chords, for example. The softness of Zardoya’s voice and the song’s airy tone make it sound romantic, but her lyrics convey loss.

“It’s getting old (I’d kinda like it if you’d call me)/ All alone (‘Cause I’m so over bein’ lonely)/ May have lost it (I need a virtual connection)/ I have lost it (Be my video obsession),” she sings on the chorus.

Fortunately for listeners, a breakup isn’t enough to stop The Marías from making songs that feel incredibly intimate.

If you want to catch the band in Atlanta, they’ll perform at the Tabernacle on July 30 and 31.

Here’s who I think should perform Usher’s tribute at the BET Awards
Usher appears for a homecoming rally at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta on Wednesday, February 14, 2024, while the CAU marching band plays. Along with other honors, Amazon presented a $25,000 donation to Usher’s New Look Foundation. (Arvin Temkar / arvin.temkar@ajc.com)

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

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Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

If 2024 had a name, it could be “The Year of Usher.” So far this year, he’s announced a highly anticipated world tour, dropped an album, performed at the Super Bowl halftime show (the most-watched in history), got married and received the NAACP Image Award’s entertainer of the year, among other honors. Last week, BET announced that the Atlanta crooner will receive their lifetime achievement award. The awards show airs at 8 p.m. June 30.

Compared to other awards shows, BET’s often succeeds in properly producing a tribute performance. However, there are memorable outliers. It was just last year when Patti LaBelle forgot the lyrics to Tina Turner’s “The Best” while performing a tribute to the late rock giant (”I’m trying, y’all,” LaBelle told the audience during her set.) And who can forget the poor decision making in recruiting Trey Songz to sing “Purple Rain” for Prince’s tribute in 2010?

For Usher’s tribute, here’s who the BET Awards should enlist:

  • Lucky Daye to perform “Burn”
  • Eric Bellinger to perform “Superstar”
  • Victoria Monét to perform “My Way”
  • Vedo to perform “Confessions”
  • Luke James to perform “Climax”
  • HER to perform “U Got It Bad”
  • Tank to perform “There Goes My Baby”
  • Alicia Keys to perform “My Boo”

BET likely won’t have all of these songs and performers, but I’m hoping at least some of these choices make the final cut. I’d also like to see Coco Jones somewhere in the mix and/or Usher perform some songs on his own. Let’s hope BET gets it right.

Megan Thee Stallion finally gets her Atlanta show
Megan Thee Stallion energized State Farm Arena on Sunday, June 2, 2024 on her Hot Girl Summer Tour, with GloRilla opening the show. Due to broken water lines in Downtown Atlanta, this first of two shows was originally scheduled for Friday night.
Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journ

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Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journ

Persistent water issues in Atlanta’s metro area prompted Megan Thee Stallion to postpone her Friday and Saturday night concerts. Luckily, she was able to move Friday’s show to Sunday and Saturday’s show to Monday. But that didn’t stop Megan from delivering a top-tier performance at Sunday’s concert. She even offered a few surprises, including the announcement of her upcoming album “Megan” (which drops on June 28).

While covering the concert, the most stunning moment that stood out to me is how Megan won’t let anything or anyone stop her from success, even when the odds are stacked against her. This is a woman who was shot in the foot by a friend and fellow artist and many didn’t believe her. Many still mock her for it. That alone is enough to discourage anyone.

But Megan won’t be defeated.

You can hear that in her impressive breath control that sustains each venomous bar. You can see it with each twerk supported by knees and thighs that never look tired. And you can feel it in the way she makes listeners become confident in themselves to do the same and do it proudly.