All right, here we go. 2016 is most of the way behind us, and that’s something we can all be thankful for. The TV is on now, and I just missed most of a cooking segment at the end of the Today show. I’m not sure I’m awake enough to deal with Billy Fuccillo’s car ads; no offense, Billy. I have a pumpkin muffin standing by, so let’s do this thing. Once again this is a live post, so refresh here and there to keep it going.
Hey, it’s Scooter! And Fozzie! And all the Muppets are doing an opening song directly ripped off from the opening of The Great Muppet Caper! Yay! What a way to start!
After a few words from Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, they go right into Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem playing Twist and Shout. Which is super appropriate for a parade and an awesome way to bring on the first dancers of the morning. Although I feel like they should’ve had Matthew Broderick crash the festivities to put the cherry on top.
Here’s Al Roker, and I just caught a glimpse of a Charlie Brown balloon near the front. I hope that doesn’t mean they left Snoopy out. As far as I’m concerned a parade without a Snoopy balloon is incomplete. Now let’s find out who’s in the lineup this year.
Tony Bennnett, Sarah McLachlan, some country people, that girl with the weird voice from America’s Got Talent, Sara Bareilles, a bunch of NBC series actors, people from that Dolly Parton coat movie (wait, wasn’t that last year?), the cast of Holiday Inn (ooh! also a huge irony that story would come to Broadway), and many more.
The first commercials are nothing new, so time for an aside. Holiday Inn is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time. I grew up with it, and there’s just nothing else like it. Granted, the whole Abraham’s Birthday scene in blackface is incredibly cringeworthy now, and it’s plot-relevant so you can’t just edit it out, but put it in context where it wasn’t meant to be offensive and the rest of the movie is a heck of a good time. Anyway the irony of this being on Broadway is about the fact that Bing Crosby plays a performer who’s sick of doing live club shows and wants to retire.
Al Roker is interviewing the guy from Superstore; he’ll always be Fred the angel to me, though. Superstore is actually way, way funnier than I thought it would be last year. I still know I don’t have it in me to watch This Is Us, though.
And now the cast of Holiday Inn is performing. (Oh, another important thing: the movie brought us the song White Christmas.) Except oddly they’re performing Blue Skies, which although it’s an Irving Berlin song, wasn’t in the movie. It was in the movie White Christmas, which recycled a lot of Irving Berlin’s songs from Holiday Inn and added a few more. Also they’re doing Shaking the Blues Away, which wasn’t in either movie. Odd choices for the parade. The dancing is impressive, especially with the jump ropes, but this doesn’t feel the same. Pity.
Pumpkin muffin time. Aside from a Macy’s ad for the sales that are coming up, all the ads are ones I’ve seen before. I mean, at least we don’t have those awful Microsoft Surface ads, so there’s that.
Oh, that Dolly Parton movie is a sequel to the last one. That explains a lot. Not enough, but a lot. Now there’s a show called Waitress, with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, and this is apparently all about baking. The little girl dancing with the cast is cute. This number wasn’t anything I’m likely to remember, but it does its job I guess.
Okay, first proper Christmastime commercial, for Duracell, with a big Star Wars theme and kids on a mission to cheer up another kid in the hospital. I approve. And look, girl in the Maybelline commercial: the sleepy-vapid look is not attractive. Open your frickin’ eyes. Finally, they end the break on a quick teaser ad for that animated movie called Sing. It looks unwatchable.
Cats is back. Frankly the song Memory never did a darn thing for me, but fortunately they’re doing a different song now. I’ve never seen the actual show. But I do remember the first parade I really watched—I was seven years old at the time—performed Memory. And oh, I spoke too soon; they’re going right into that song.
We have a new Hess Truck commercial. I still can’t figure out if Hess is even a thing anymore since all the Hesses around here became Speedways. A quick look at Google says that the trucks are all that’s left. Meanwhile NBC is telling me about a new game show. I like game shows, but I’m not a fan of watching them in prime time.
No, NBC, I’m not going to watch This Is Us. The promos put me to sleep. Cirque du Soleil is performing a Broadway musical called Paramour. They’re always visually stunning, although I admit I was disappointed to find out that Paramour is the show name and they’re not actually doing a collaboration with the band Paramore.
I’m not watching Chicago ____ either. I just can’t bring myself to. Back in front of Macy’s, Matt and Savannah are telling us about this year’s inexplicable NBC live musical: Hairspray. They’re performing now, only this is coming to us from the set instead of from in front of the store, which is super weird for the parade. It feels more like an extended commercial. It has a heck of a cast, though.
The Barbie ad with the girl playing a college professor was cute. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the new host of Celebrity Apprentice, not so much. They really should have retired the series after parting ways with the Donald.
The Rockettes are up, which means we’re close to the opening of the parade proper. Liking the red and green, ladies. Very festive.
Here we go! The parade is about to officially start, and they’re preceded by the first marching band of the day. Confetti is coming down, and cops on motorcycles are leading the starting line.
The classic Tom Turkey float is up first, with Sandra Lee once again. Not my favorite Food Network star, but she always seems to be available. Charlie Brown comes behind them, clutching his tangled-up kite, and it looks even worse (in a good way) with all the tow lines for the balloon.
Officially the most heartwarming commercial of the day: A boy grows into old age watching a Santa balloon wave at him in the parade year after year, and the one year he’s not there, the balloon goes rogue and tracks him down to give him one last wave. Well done, Macy’s.
Here’s the Sesame Street float. Christopher Jackson from the embattled show Hamilton is on board with them to sing about trying a little kindness. I’m doing my level best not to make a joke here.
Thomas the Tank Engine steams his way down the parade route, in front of a marching band from Joe E. Newsome High School in Florida. They’re doing a medley of songs with “Sunshine” in the title. Unfortunately, the songs that pop into your head when you hear the word sunshine are exactly the ones you think they’d be.
They lead off the float from Sprout, the one with the annoying squeaky chicken. They’re singing some forgettable pap song (pap, not pop) about freedom to grow or something like that. Odd how music for kids shows has gotten musically a little more interesting but considerably more lame over time.
I’m starting to feel that not bringing a drink up with me was a mistake. I might have to do that during the next break. During this break, they’re reminding us about Hairspray Live. Does anything truly ever feature Rosie O’Donnell?
Ronald McDonald is here! Although I’ve got a belly full of pumpkin muffin right now, I’d love a bite of a bacon egg & cheese biscuit. Thanks, Ronald, for bringing us more breakfast all day.
Now we have the revised version of the Candyman song. To quote the M&M characters for maximum irony, this is terrible. Also it has little to no relation to the original song.
Harrison High School’s marching band is up next, performing Shut Up and Dance. Heh! I love it.
Paddington makes his third appearance as a balloon, to remind us about that movie nobody saw. Savannah Guthrie tells us there’s going to be a second movie nobody will see.
McDonald’s tells us about their commitment to food, and Suave tells us they’re better than Bath & Body Works. Maybe, but you can’t give Suave as a Christmas present.
A duo is performing a song aboard a baseball float. I missed their names while I was typing up that last part. It’s a cover of Billy Joel’s song Get It Right the First Time. Not bad. Not memorable, but not bad.
The red Power Ranger balloon comes after them, with a reminder that there’s a Power Rangers movie coming out. Eh. Another marching band follows that, with music from the Incredibles. Works for me. Although I don’t recall the Notre Dame cheer song being from the Incredibles.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are here! Only it’s the new series, and Savannah tells us they just celebrated their 100th episode. Sorry, Savannah, but only the ’80s cartoon counts. Jacob Whitesides is on the float with them, introduced as a country singer but singing a very pop song without any actual traces of country. Hey, I’ll take it.
In front of Macy’s, an Armenian dance troupe is performing a very colorful number. And Pikachu is up after them. Still cute. Pokémon Go fans, you’ve finally found him. And we’ve also found Colombian band Diamente Eléctrico on the Gibson Guitar float. I didn’t understand a word of their performance (although I don’t think it was in Spanish), but it was fun.
The Girl Scouts are launching their first-ever float in the parade. But they’re not throwing out boxes of Thin Mints, which is just wrong. Country duo Maddie & Tae is on board, to remind me that I’m allergic to country. Nice voices, though. I can at least appreciate that country music still has melody. I mean, I can appreciate it from a distance.
Comcast just gave us a commercial where a couple of grandparents saw their granddaughter’s tweet about how their home has no WiFi, and they wired up their house at the last minute to make a magical holiday. Cute commercial, if you can get past the fact that it’s frickin’ Comcast. Comcast’s approval ratings are about an order of magnitude south of how both candidates this year were perceived by the opposition.
A bunch of cheerleaders just did a dance in front of Macy’s to Mr. Roboto. And Macy’s is introducing a ground-level balloon dog called Trixie, with accordion legs. Kinda weird, but okay. A fun house float is behind that, with a guy called LunchMoney Lewis to remind us that rap has been dead for 25 years, and why.
I’d like to go back in time and strangle the inventor of Auto-Tune just before he adds the feature that does the instant pitch change that causes that robot voice sound. I mean sure, anyone can want to go back and kill Hitler, but I’m afraid that would only make something worse happen. Getting rid of the zero setting to Auto-Tune: zero possible downside.
Macy’s fields its own marching band from all 50 states and DC, performing It’s Not Unusual. Because really, what says Thanksgiving more than Tom Jones? Or even DNCE, who did their next song. Aboard a toy float behind them, Grace VanderWaal from America’s Got Talent is playing her song that got her onto the show in the audition rounds. Gotta be honest: I never actually liked the song and I don’t care for the squeaky voice thing she does. But bless her anyway; she made it through some long odds to win, and she laid down some good performances to get there.
Dreamworks’ Trolls have a new balloon. So far the little I’ve seen in previews for the film suggests I’d rather stab myself in the arm than watch it.
Chloe x Hallie (yes x, not &, because apparently x is trendy) are singing aboard the Build-a-Bear float. Well, singing isn’t actually the right word. They sang briefly, and then jumped into an annoying rap-like thing. They’re sort of singing again now, but it’s like they’re both independently searching for a melody and neither is finding one.
Wait, Trolls is actually out already? It’s been out for three weeks? Sheesh.
More cheerleaders are doing a party medley in front of the store. Pretty good medley. For bonus points, while I heard Pitbull begin his signature trilling yodel leading into one of his segments, they cut off that song and went right into another one without actually letting him speak. Boom! Felix the Cat comes up behind them.
NY Daily News’ Big Apple float has the trio De La Soul doing something much closer to proper rap than anything we’ve heard so far in this parade: with an actual melody and non-lazy rhyme. They’re ahead of the NYPD marching band and the venerable policeman and fireman floats.
The Kilgore College Rangerettes are up now, dancing to Stars & Stripes Forever. And behind them, Colonel Sanders’ float. Unfortunately, it comes with another country singer: Easton Corbin. I’ve heard this song in car commercials. Didn’t like it there either. I think I’m getting a hive.
The Sinclair dinosaur balloon is back again, in front of the West Point marching band. And hey, they’re playing Christmas music!
There’s a National Park Service float featuring Mt. Rushmore, and singer Ben Rector doing that lame song he does; it’s called Brand New but you know it better for the backup singers just going “oho o oh, o whoa o oh…”.
And another ad for that animated movie Sing. I change my earlier answer. I’d rather stab myself in the arm and go see Trolls instead.
Hawaii brings us a multi-school marching band. Glad they dressed up warm. It’s not that cold out there in NYC, but for Hawaii it must still be a shock. King’s Hawaiian has a pretty cool float behind them. Fitz and the Tantrums are aboard, singing their song HandClap. It’s good party music, so well done. Nice infusion of energy to this part of the parade. And in appropriate succession, the Eruptor balloon from Skylanders comes right behind them. Whoever put together this segment of the parade nailed it for thematic continuity.
Aboard the Pirate’s Booty float, the group Timeflies tries to convince us that “positive” rhymes with “opposite”. Morons. Why can’t people rhyme anymore? It’s not actually that difficult to take the extra time to write a song that works.
Coke and Oreo have back-to-back leave-something-for-Santa ads. Talk about your thematic continuity!
The Sino-American Friendship Association has their float again, behind a dragon balloon. Fun float. I like seeing them in the parade.
The red bird from Angry Birds has a balloon too, and he’s ahead of a marching band from Grain Valley High School in Missouri. Matt Lauer just talked over most of their performance.
Aflac! The duck is in front of a hockey float, but I want to skip over them for a moment to point out the Scrat balloon is right behind them. And boy does Scrat need supplemental insurance. Okay, back to the hockey float: Daya is performing a relatively new song. I kinda like her music; it’s not my favorite, but it works and she’s one of the few singers I can actually tolerate on pop radio right now.
There’s that one drug commercial for an arthritis medication, that features a family in an all-white house whose clothes and possessions are all either stark white, pale country blue, or beige. I always think it’s a depression ad, because if I grew up in a house like that I’d probably want to shoot myself.
A kids’ dance troupe from the National Dance Institute is pulling out the stops in front of Macy’s. It’s appropriately fun, and colorful enough to be a palate cleanser after that ad. Ocean Spray has a float next, with the two guys from their commercials and Regina Spektor. Her song’s decent, although again with the lazy rhyme. Sure she was born in the Soviet Union (thanks, Google), but that’s no excuse.
We have a marching band and dancers doing music from Mary Poppins. I’ll take it!
Domino sugar has a float next, with the Pillsbury Dough Boy right behind them. More thematic win! Country (ugh) singer Kelsea Ballerini is on the sugar float. We need to have a national meeting in America with all prospective parents and get them to stop with the creative spellings.
Delta Airlines has the classic float with the Gothic bridge over the pond. Brett Eldridge is on the bridge singing Let It Snow, and it’s pretty darn great. The whole style is reminiscent of Christmas music past, which as I mentioned recently is still great for a reason.
After a local commercial break, the all-ages troupe Tap Dancing Christmas Trees reminds us we need a little Christmas. Boy howdy do we ever! 2016 has been a massive parade of suck. We need a little Spongebob too, so thank goodness his balloon is here.
Hendrickson High School from Flugerville, Texas is playing something called Joyride, except it sounds a lot more like an alternate arrangement of Ode to Joy than a Roxette classic. Flugerville. Hee hee.
Sarah McLachlan is aboard the Balsam Hill three-layer carousel float singing Silver Bells. That float is freaking awesome. Serious props to the designer.
Oh good gads, the accursed Elf on the Shelf. My sister vowed to unfollow (for the season) anyone on Facebook who posts pictures of their elf. Although a friend posted a response with G. I. Joe waterboarding the elf, and boy can I get behind that.
Mother Ginger from the Nutcracker Suite is up now, with a giant skirt filled with dancing kids. I’ve never seen the Nutcracker. The music is wonderful, though.
The music in Google’s phone commercials, on the other hand… yeek. It’s not all bad, but it’s all weird. Not in a good way.
The Muppets are back aboard an advent calendar float. Miss Piggy is singing with Tony Bennett. The great man is really showing his age now, but we all love him. Miss Piggy’s microphone is having some trouble, though. Huh. 90th parade, and it’s Tony’s 90th birthday this year. Congrats, Tony!
The last marching band of the day (whoa, it’s almost noon already!) brings us music from the movie Elf. A modern classic. Something about Buddy’s Christmas spirit is just infectious.
And speaking of elves, the good old trio of elf balloons is here, right in front of a whirlwind of paper snow that completely obscures Santa Claus. And boy do I mean obscures. But fortunately it’s gone now, and you can actually see the float.
Al Roker ends it with a salute to our armed forces serving around the world, and hats off to all you brave men and women who do what you do to keep us safe. Well I’m not wearing a hat, but I’d take it off.
And now Thanksgiving proper is here, and the Christmas season begins tonight. But don’t go out shopping for deals tonight, unless it’s online; don’t be one of Those People. For many, a turkey dinner awaits with all the fixin’s: mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin and apple (and hopefully cherry) pie. And football, of course.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and a blessed Christmas season.