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California Heating Up: Midseason Power Rankings

Updated: 2 days ago

February has come and gone, as has Burbank and a couple of high-profile trips for Cali's top choirs. That means it's time for an updated power ranking of the top groups in the California circuit as they approach the second half of the season.

  1. John Burroughs Powerhouse (CA)

Powerhouse is bringing one of their most thought-provoking narratives to date as well as spectacular showmanship. Although they’re consistently one of the best vocal groups in the nation, nobody quite anticipated the earth-shattering vocals in many moments of their set. It’s not likely that any of the California Big Three (or any group anywhere) can out-sing Powerhouse this season, and their dancing will hold against the best of them. With two consecutive sweeps against the likes of Los Alamitos Sound FX, Troy Buchanan Express, and Chesterton Sandpipers, Powerhouse has the hardware to back it up. This group will have great odds at an undefeated season and could be on watch for a rare full-season sweep.

2. Los Alamitos Sound FX (CA)

One of FX’s greatest shows to date has stunned audiences from all over the country. Despite not having a win under their belt, it’s undeniable that they’re one of the best groups in the world. Unfortunately for Sound FX, they happened to attend competitions where two top-five groups happened to be. Although FX has had a disappointing season trophy-wise (which feels ridiculous to say given the caliber of talent they’ve faced and even defeated) for their standards, this will be a show that stands the test of time and goes down as one of the greatest ever and a fan-favorite for years to come.

3. Burbank In Sync (CA)

InSync has looked very vulnerable the last few seasons as they fight to maintain their status as a member of the California Big Three. Last year, In Sync failed to collect a win against another Big Three player (Yes, they did place over Powerhouse at Oceanside but would have taken third and Musicianship if not for a Powerhouse time penalty). West Coast show choir fans were holding their breath to see the results of this year’s Hart Encore contest, as a combined advanced division pitted In Sync against the scariest batch of small advanced groups the circuit had seen since 2019. Although they did end up on top, Burbank did not emerge unscathed, as they dropped their first major caption (not including Sound FX or Powerhouse) since 2020. In Sync holds steady as the third-best group in the West this time, but be on the lookout for when programs like Glendora, Hart, Diamond Bar, and La Cueva see their advanced group enrollment continue to grow from 20s and 30s to 40s and 50s. All that being said, In Sync is still a must-see show choir with lots to love. Their vocals have that classic Burbank timbre as always, and their choreography is just a blast to watch. Stage fights and a stunning ballad cap off In Sync’s chilling show.

4. La Cueva Underground (NM)

It turns out that Underground is turning into the giant slayers we always knew they could be. They took home that coveted second prize at Hart Encore, their only competition of the year. They managed to not only defeat small mixed titans Diamond Bar Marquis and Glendora Royal Stewarts by razor-thin margins, but Underground also took the Showmanship caption from the legendary Burbank. La Cueva’s flawless dance technique and clean tone got the job done against the toughest competition the West has to offer. Barring a late-season run from these next three groups, Underground have cemented themselves in the 4th spot.

5. Hart Sound Vibrations (CA)

Tiny but mighty. Sound Vibes have silenced any doubts about their small size and have taken down much larger groups on several occasions so far this season. The execution and difficulty of choreography is second to none. It would be extremely difficult for the majority of the show choir world to take a showmanship caption off of Sound Vibrations, and they haven’t dropped it yet. Hart will look to take care of business against another comically stacked division at Los Alamitos Xtravaganza, and earn their stay in the top half of this list.

6. Diamond Bar Marquis (CA)

While they haven’t moved up or down this list since the pre-season rankings, the journey to end up back here was anything but linear. Marquis came out of the gate with a slow start, getting taking last of four choirs in division at Esperanza and third of four at Burbank (with Brea Olinda Masquerade hot on their heels). However, this past weekend at Hart Encore was a major turnaround for the Diamond Bar crew. They took home a third place finish over tough competition that featured the surging Glendora Royal Stewarts, the visiting American Leadership Academy Evolution, and a much-improved Chaparral Platinum FX. So despite their stumble to start, they are now right back where they started. With Marquis’ final competition at Los Alamitos Xtravaganza rapidly approaching, all eyes will be on the comeback kids to see if they can make it to the top of California’s small mixed division.

7. Glendora Royal Stewarts (CA)

Well, Royal Stewarts haven’t moved yet either, but they also have enjoyed a wild ride to get back to the seven spot. Stewarts took home a well-deserved win and musicianship against the two groups above them in their first contest of the season at Esperanza but ended up

falling to Burbank, La Cueva, and Diamond Bar at Hart. So despite their roaring start, Glendora is sticking at the seven spot for now. However, this could change in an instant. Royal Stewarts have just as good a chance as any to pick up the victory at Los Alamitos Xtravaganza, and that result could catapult them to the upper half of the rankings. The headline here is that Glendora is very legitimate, and they will be gunning for the first prize at all their contests for the remainder of the season.

8. John F Kennedy Executive Order (CA)

Kennedy seemed poised for success this year, and I would even argue that they improved. The problem is that other groups just improved more. EO dropped to a shocking third place at their first competition of the year, losing to Hart Sound Vibrations and Glendora Royal Stewarts and narrowly beating out Diamond Bar Marquis. A late choice could have been made to compete in advanced tier II all season after that result, but it appears as though the die has been cast. All signs point to the La Palma singers competing exclusively in tier I all season. This means that they will essentially exhibition at Los Alamitos Xtravanganza whilst groups that bested them in the early season will duke it out in a lower division. Following that, they will face off exclusively against the Big Three at Oceanside, and taking any sort of placement or caption will be a tall (Executive) order. A move down to Tier II, at least at Xtravaganza, would allow them to join the fray and give themselves a chance to prove themselves against the best the West has to offer, but it seems like a long shot at this point.

9. Valley Vista Vocal Thunder (AZ)

There’s not too much to report for Valley Vista as they prepare to strike in the Cali circuit for the first time this season at Los Alamitos Xtravaganza. However, they did take home a sweep at a competition in Arizona against all the relevant Arizona groups, including a revived Horizon Step On Stage. VT will get a shot at all the best small advanced groups on Saturday and could really shake up the rankings if they come prepared.

10. Pacifica Encore (CA)

Hey, what’s an intermediate group doing here? Well simply put, they cannot lose. Encore has the third-longest win streak in high school show choir right now with eight wins straight in division. It’s no longer a question of if, but when they will move up to the advanced division. In that case, it will be very interesting to see if they can take placements from the established advanced groups.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Brea Olinda Masquerade (CA)

  • American Leadership Academy (UT)

  • Carlsbad Sound Express (CA)

  • Horizon Step On Stage (AZ)

  • Chaparral Platinum FX (CA)

  • Bonita Vista The Music Machine (CA)

  • Helix HLX (CA)

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