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Royal & The Serpent Ignite a Stylized Freak-Out

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Often in quarantine, I find myself yearning to rage dance naked in the chaos of a hyper-70s living room until the chandelier shatters. Luckily, Royal & The Serpent’s, “Overwhelmed,” shows me I’m not alone.

“Overwhelmed” music video

Singer-songwriter Ryan Santiago makes her Atlantic Records debut with a single that pulls you into her ceaseless mind as it spins out of control. The music video puts you in her world while paralleling it to the one we’re living in now. As the camera pulls away from the dated TV, you hear news clips of the current events boosting our anxiety.

“When suspicious activity call 911 for immediate response—”

“Theres still no cure for the virus—”

The intro takes today’s struggles and inserts them in a ’70s living room for a stylized freak-out on 16mm. The video, directed by Connor Sorensen, follows Santiago from a stoic position on the couch through convulsions of anxiety resulting in a moment of unconsciousness that gradually morphs into a flailing dance where she lets it all go, and finally ends with an exasperated cigarette in a destroyed environment. So basically, the video captures my timeline of emotions throughout quarantine.

“Royal” and “Serpent” allude to both sides of her Gemini sign

 “It’s a song about my struggle with mental health, sensory overload, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, etc.,” Santiago said in an interview, “But I’m not so much trying to highlight or glamorize anxiety. … I just want the listener to feel heard. To feel like: I get you, I’m here for you, you’re not alone … Let’s dance it out, you know?”

It seems Santiago refuses to let her career be stunted by COVID. In fact, it seems to give her more to write about. Maybe she will make it in 2020, just like she promised in her other hit, “MMXX.”

Julia Colasanti
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