OPINION: Royal & the Serpent’s music is perfect for any occasion


Rachel Chapuis

Ryan Santiago performing her song “BETTER” as Royal & the Serpent at WonderStruck in 2021.

Rachel Chapuis, Opinion Writer

In the summer of 2021, my best friend and I went to WonderStruck, a music festival in Kirtland, Ohio. We went to this festival because it was cheaper than other music festivals, and we knew some of the bigger artists playing at the festival like AJR, Walk the Moon, Tate McRae and Portugal. The Man.

We had a two-hour drive to get to the festival, so we decided to look up some of the other smaller artists to see which sets we might want to see. We looked up Royal & the Serpent, also known as singer-songwriter Ryan Santiago, on Spotify and played her most popular song, “overwhelmed.” We immediately recognized the song from TikTok and the radio. We decided to listen to one more song before we moved on to the next artist. We played “i can’t get high” and looked at each other, mouths open so wide, the second the song started. We loved it so much.

The Wonderstruck entrance. (Rachel Chapuis)

We were excited about her set, and once we got into the festival, we went right to her stage, so we got spots in the front row.

She was late for her set, and we were standing waiting, unsure of what this performance would entail. She came out onto the stage with big energy and got right into her set. She played with the rock band Beauty School Dropout comprised of her good friends – Colie Hutzler, Beepus Burdett and Bardo.

I have never seen a better performance than hers. I didn’t know half of her songs at the time, and I still had the time of my life. We were in awe. My best friend said, “You don’t understand. I’m like actually in love with her.”

Since 2020, Santiago has been releasing more iconic music. Every single song on her EP “IF I DIED WOULD ANYONE CARE” is a bop. She released that album in January last year, and I had it on repeat the entire winter last year. I was going through a rough time mentally, and the album was relatable and therapeutic because it talks heavily about mental health.

Coinciding with her music, Santiago speaks out about mental health and includes her struggles in her music. In Santiago’s songs “BETTER,” “Happier in Hell,” “IM FINE,” “Death of Me” and “Happiness 4 Dummies” she speaks on her journey with depression.

In her song “BETTER,” she describes the struggles of everyday life while struggling with depression. She starts the song with “I haven’t washed my hair in two weeks. Been getting mental health texts from my friends to check it. I’m alright.” These lyrics immediately relate to people struggling with mental health. She then sings, “They never show this shit in movies. So, I say, ‘yes’ but it’s a lie, I’m not alright.” These lyrics are so important because she acknowledges that depression is something people tend to be ashamed of and not openly talk about.

Ryan Santiago performing her song “i can’t get high” alongside Beepus Burdett of Beauty School Dropout at WonderStruck July 24, 2021, in Kirtland, OH. (Rachel Chapuis)

Santiago’s song, “Death of Me,” is about the disconnect of the world right now and how it led to many people with mental illness. She sings, “Our dreams are dead, the internet killed conversation, personality and friends. We’re all depressed and self-obsessed. Our lives are wasted on pornography and rent.” Her songs relate to so many because she writes about her truth and life. Though they talk about heavy topics, her songs are still fun to listen to and jam out.

Royal & the Serpent’s music is music that you can listen to for almost any occasion. Perfect for driving around, when you’re sad, when you’re happy, when you’re feeling yourself, etc. If you’re looking for new music, give her music a listen.

Rachel Chapuis is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].