Game of Thrones finds a way to simultaneously enrage and enthral its fanbase with almost every episode, but viewers are divided by one moment in particular from Monday’s season seven premiere.
Yes, English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran crashed the set as a Lannister soldier whose camp is stumbled upon by Arya Stark.
But instead of meeting the sharp end of her sword, he spent a good 30 seconds chewing the scenery and unsubtly alluding to his real-life top-40 status with a throwaway line about a ditty he was singing: “It’s a new one.”
It was an undisputedly cringeworthy moment in an otherwise solid series.
Game of Thrones & Ed Sheeran – Hands of Gold pic.twitter.com/dMiqcqW4dH
— Wannart (@wannartcom) July 17, 2017
But what fans may not realise is that it’s far from the first time a musician has slipped into Westeros.
Thankfully, most manage to do so with a little more grace.
[Brace yourselves. If you’re not up-to-date, spoilers are coming.]
Coldplay’s Will Champion – Season 3, Episode 9 ‘The Rains of Castamere’
You may know this episode better by its unofficial name ‘The Red Wedding’. Coldplay’s drummer fills in as a band member during the church scene and besides being able to hold a beat, he also appears to be a pretty good shot with a crossbow.
Sigur Rós – Season 4, Episode 2 ‘The Lion and the Rose’
If the band at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding sounded familiar, it’s because they were actually Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós.
Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody – Season 3, Episode 3 ‘Walk of Punishment’
Similar to Ed Sheeran’s cameo, the Chasing Cars vocalist appears as a singing soldier, this time for Bolton’s army.
Mastodon – Season 5, Episode 8 ‘Hardhome’
Honestly, if you need a ragtag handful of people to portray a bunch of disheveled zombie wildlings, why wouldn’t you commission a grizzled metal band?
Of Monsters and Men – Season 6, Episode 5 ‘The Door’
This indie folk group aren’t as popular in Australia as they are in Europe, but their appearance as a band in the cultural hub of Braavos did not feel out of place at all. Apparently they’re big fans of the show and got their manager to pester the producers until they gave in.
Ned Stark’s executioner
Did the guitarist from Dr Feelgood really behead Sean Bean? Yes. You may not have noticed him, but Wilko Johnson reappeared as the grim executioner in a further three episodes.
Actors with a musical side
Ramsay Bolton – Believe it or not, the deplorable Bolton (Iwan Rheon) is actually quite a tender musician in real life.
Hodor – If you think Kristian Nairn is a man of few words in GoT, then you may not be surprised to see him without a microphone when taking to the stage as a DJ. He even came to Australia a few years ago for his Rave of Thrones tour.
Melisandre – The red priestess may be terrifying on screen, but actor Carice Van Houten’s music isn’t quite so off-putting. Her 2012 album See You on the Ice is available for streaming.
Grey Worm – RnB fans would have been surprised to see Jacob Anderson pop up in Daenerys’ plot thread. He’s actually the relatively well-known artist Raleigh Ritchie!
Daario Naharis – Both actors who portrayed this hunky warrior actually have musical backgrounds. The first, Ed Skrein, has a grime career on the side. His role replacement, Michiel Huisman, plays an arrogant busker in the music-filled series Tremé and is the frontman of relatively unknown Dutch band Fontane.
Bronn – Before he was an actor, Jerome Flynn was a member of flash-in-the-pan pop group Robson & Jerome. We think moving on to acting may have been a sound choice.
Hizdahr zo Loraq – No, that’s not a typo. A slave trader who’s seen in several Daenerys-heavy episodes is one half of pop duo Animal Circus.
Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane – The enormous actor plays guitar in his spare time. He also used to be a member of a band called ‘Thundersoup’ – here he is performing in a Santa costume.