Five Performers to Watch on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The pop culture represented at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade spans

a weird gamut. According to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

website, the giant balloons this year represent Diary of a Wimpy Kid (very current), a Smurf (The Smurfs,

a film, is set for release around August 2011 - promotion!), Snoopy as

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the Flying Ace (a favorite), and a Strawberry/Pistachio Ice Cream Cone

(it seems the lineup on the website is also a means of taking

inventory, because this is hardly interesting but will definitely be

tasty to look at -- thus, likable).

As for the performers, they don't need to be a

relevant, current obsession, but most are. If they aren't, they fall under one of

two categories: tried-and-true favorites or just likable. It's also

the most colorful way for musicians to hype a new album or project. Note: We're pretty shocked and disappointed that Justin Bieber's not a part of this.

Here are five acts to watch for during Thursday morning's parade.

1. Kanye West

We want his float to be used as a new medium through which he can

express the exact same aesthetic that was in the "Runaway" video:

explosions/pyrotechnics, ballerinas, beautiful women in feathers. In

case you forgot, the video features a giant dinner table with a giant

bird on a platter that brings said feathered woman to tears -- totally

appropriate, though kind of awkward, for the holiday. He's reportedly performing "Lost in the World," so maybe Bon Iver will be there too.

2. Arlo Guthrie

Woody's son won't be the only legend on 34th Street, but he'll

definitely be the grittiest and the most awesome. It's doubtful he'll

grace us all with anything political, but the true story upon which

"Alice's Restaurant Massacree" was based started on Thanksgiving Day,

and the song itself is long enough to take him through at least the

first leg of the parade.

3. Gladys Knight

The Empress of Soul is the reason we just said Arlo isn't going to

be only legend present (LOL, Kanye).  She will be a simultaneous contributor to and

break from the inherent cheesiness of the parade, and that's just fine

with us. She's the predecessor to the likes of number 4 on this list and

still a total babe.

4. Macy Gray

Her last album, The Sellout, had a commercial-worthy single, "Beauty in

the World," with a title appropriate for the holiday and lyrics like

"stop and smell the flowers." That kind of content is enough to build

a float, but furthermore: What a great way to reaffirm a comeback. Her

name's appearance on that lineup was a little bizarre but makes sense

when you think about it.

5. The OfficeMax Elves Raise the Roof Float
Could this be the closest we'll ever get to an internet meme becoming a float? Still holding out for that Handerpants float. Remember that Office Max-sponsored "Elf Yourself" site? Sticking

your head onto the body of a dancing elf is weird enough; now the viral

marketing campaign is extending itself to a float with the goofiest of

names. Maybe you can TiVo it, pause it, and stick a real photo of

yourself on one of the live elves, effectively making the greeting card

a reality.  Seriously, this is a bit strange.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade airs on NBC between 9 a.m. and noon Thursday, November 25.

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