By Emily Rome
Updated November 22, 2012 at 08:47 PM EST
Don McLean
Credit: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade isn’t the type of parade that gives out awards to the best floats, what with nearly all the floats being the same every year. So EW’s here to make sure that the highlights of this year’s parade all get their due accolades. Here are the moments from this year’s kickoff to Turkey Day that were deserving of recognition, for better or worse.

Best Marching Band Uniforms: This one goes to Father Ryan High School Band from Nashville, Tenn. Any trombone player that looks like a combination of a hockey player, Judge Dredd and the Power Rangers we saw a few minutes before is definitely the clear winner for a prize like this.

Worst Lip-Syncer: It saddens me to present this award to Don McLean. The poor guy got off to a bad start when he totally missed the recorded spoken words “Sing it with me!” The rest of his “performance” of “American Pie” on the Mount Rushmore float just didn’t feel authentic at all. And then he also missed the spoken “Good and loud!” Of all the music acts here, he’s probably the one least used to the insult of having to lip-sync (Carly Rae Jepsen, The Wanted and Cody Simpson seemed well-practiced in that particular art), so maybe in some small way, we can look at it as a good thing he’s not skilled in the art of lip-syncing.

Best Effort to Match the Theme: Neon Trees lead singer Tyler Glenn gets this one for sporting a red headband and dark green pea coat for his appearance on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles float.

Most Annoying Musical Number: The songs we got from Annie, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Cinderella were all a delightful taste of Broadway for this girl who lives 3,000 miles away from the Big Apple. But one musical number made me want to turn off the TV: “The Story of Buddy the Elf” from Elf. Now you can call me Scrooge all you want, but I know I can’t be the only one who had heard enough repetitions of “It’s the story of Buddyyyyyyyy the elf” halfway through the song.

Most Hyperbole-Obsessed People in the History of All the World Ever!: This one goes to our trio of NBC commentators. Or at least whoever wrote the script on their teleprompter. Savannah Guthrie called Chicka the chicken “the world’s most famous chicken.” This chicken is so famous that I haven’t heard of it. Apparently it’s a puppet on a PBS kids’ series called The Sunny Side Up Show. Al Roker called the Pillsbury Doughboy “one of the most identifiable icons of all time.” The voice of the opening intro declared that the parade would feature “the world’s most popular recording artists.” (Congrats on your speedy rise to popularity, Megan & Liz!) Roker did seem to get one right, though: He called Mickey Mouse “one of the most famed figures on Earth or above it,” the ‘above it’ of course being a reference to the fact that this was Balloon Mickey we were seeing.

Most Disappointing Fake-Out: Over halfway through the parade, balloon-ified Snoopy was still MIA. So I my ears perked up when Guthrie announced, “Some serious peanut power is on display.” But what hit the screen next wasn’t the beloved Peanuts dog but Mr. Peanut. Turns out I missed the news that Snoopy had been downgraded this year.

Most Inspiringly Optimistic Group: The Sesame Street crew. I wouldn’t really expect anything other than bright and all-smiles from the PBS bunch, but if dark overtones showed themselves this year after the recent shocking news about one of their puppeteers, I couldn’t blame them. But there was no sign of that at all as puppets and humans alike sang, “Oh, I gotta keep my head up high / Nothing’s gonna get us down.” Cookie monster rocked those drumsticks, Bird Bird rocked that Christmas tree tie, Bert rocked that unibrow, and whoever took on puppeteering duties for our favorite furry red puppet rocked Elmo.

Most Heartfelt Tearjerker: Matt Lauer’s introduction of the Statue of Liberty torch float at first appeared to signal forced sentimentals, a cheesy attempt to bring up Superstorm Sandy again, but what followed was a genuinely heartfelt performance by the kids of the PS 22 Chorus, a collection of fifth graders from Staten Island, which took a particularly hard hit in the storm. They proved that NBC hasn’t wrung dry “Home,” the song made famous this summer by Phillip Phillips and the Olympics segments featuring the Fierce Five.

Best Expert Advice: Roker took a moment to chat with Jillian Michaels to promote her return to The Biggest Loser. Her advice for staying healthy on Thanksgiving? “Have fun! It’s Thanksgiving. Work out tomorrow.”

Happy Thanksgiving, PopWatchers!


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