The surviving members of the Beach Boys, who will tour this year in honor of the band's 50th anniversary, gave fans a sneak preview at the 54th Grammy Awards. Though the lead-in with Foster the People and Maroon 5 was puzzling at best and cringe-inducing at worst, the Beach Boys' run-through of "Good Vibrations," while not an exalting return to the stage, was borderline heartwarming.
It brought Glen Campbell, who once performed with the Beach Boys, to his feet, and seeing Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine and David Marks perform together was something of a refreshing relief. The song's sonic explorations are as exciting as ever, and though Wilson isn't all that mobile these days, there's no denying the look of sheer joy on his face every time he gets to perform.
It doesn't say much when "Good Vibrations" was far more experimental and out of this world than the numbers by many of the acts that had already appeared. The Beach Boys, in fact, showed the limitations of the acts they performed with. Maroon 5's take on "Surfer Girl" was far more serious than need be, and the band's slick electro-pop has nothing in common with the Beach Boys' studio-enhanced musical journeys.
PHOTOS: Memorable Grammy red carpet moments
Same for Foster the People. Maroon 5, however, is at least pro. Foster the People looked scared, as mousey vocalist Mark Foster seemed out of his element, not knowing whether to smile, play it serious or just cut loose. It looked as if he couldn't wait to get offstage while performing "Wouldn't It Be Nice." While the song is all about youthful anxiety and romantic ideals, stagefright likely wasn't the emotion Wilson wanted to capture when he wrote it.
So ... Pop & Hiss offers a quick list of artists that would have been a better choice to back the Beach Boys:
* The Fleet Foxes. Nominated for folk album, the Fleet Foxes may not have been the most obvious choice for this role on a major awards show, but no other nominated act puts such a premium on harmonies. Hearing the act giving a stripped down take on a Beach Boys classic, with hypnotic, layered vocals that aim for the cosmos, would not only have filled the need to slap a younger group with the Beach Boys, but also would have presented the West Coast legends with a group that may have even appealed to Beach Boys fans.
* Wilco. The rock album contenders are quite possibly the most versatile act nominated this year. Songs such as "Sunloathe" on new album "The Whole Love" reach for a "Pet Sounds"-like grandeur, creating an orchestra of sounds based around the guitar.
FULL COVERAGE: Grammy Awards
* The Muppets. If producers are intent on appealing to a younger audience, at the very least they could have snared an act without the self-seriousness of Maroon 5.
* Raphael Saadiq. His latest album, "Stone Rollin'," has a retro-sheen and shows a knack for modernizing vintage sounds. This also would have fulfilled the Grammy tendency to place acts of different genres on the same stage together, and 'Stone Rollin' " comfortably moves between R&B, rock 'n' roll and country.
Later, Paul McCartney performed his new song "My Valentine," one of the more likable cuts on his "Kisses on the Bottom." It's a low-key, late-night slow-burner. It's delicate, ornate, and the performance tonight, with Diana Krall and Joe Walsh, was fancy and pretty-like, although it would have felt more at home amid the smooth jazz of the Web-only Grammy pre-telecast.
Winners and nominees
Grammys 2012: Live coverage!
Jennifer Hudson to sing Whitney Huston tribute
Grammy's rehearsal hints at promise of drama to come
Critic's Notebook: The junking of commercial rock music
Grammy Awards 2012: Five races to watch -- besides Adele's
Commentary: Where's the love for the supreme Diana Ross?
-- Todd Martens
Photo: Mike Love of the Beach Boys and Adam Levine, right, of Maroon 5, speak onstage after performing. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press