The night is dark and full of cameos by famous musicians - here are all the big musical names that have featured in Game of Thrones. After eight seasons, HBO's A Song of Ice and Fire adaptation came to a divisive conclusion earlier this year, largely disappointing fans with a long-awaited final season that was accused of rapid pacing, poor writing and numerous narrative dead ends. Considered as a whole, however, Game of Thrones remains a groundbreaking piece of television, both in terms of its broad appeal and the enormity of its production.
As Game of Thrones' popularity spread, more and more celebrities managed to wrangle their way into shot, bagging either a cameo role or a background appearance. With its vast setting and epic scale, Game of Thrones lent itself very naturally to the art of the cameo, with many inclusions initially going completely unnoticed. While some musician appearances fit seamlessly into the Game of Thrones tapestry, others feel heavily sign-posted, and one or two could even be described as a full character casting, rather than a mere cameo.
With huge battles and hundreds of extras, recognizable musicians had plenty of places to hide, and while their time in Westeros may not have always been obvious to viewers, a mixture of excited social media posts and promotional interviews provide a fairly comprehensive idea of the various musicians to have sung their way towards the Iron Throne.
Game of Thrones' Red Wedding episode was a turning point for the series, not just in terms of popularity, but as a stark warning that absolutely no character was safe. It was also the moment viewers realized that celebrities kept popping up in the background of key scenes. Walder Frey may have betrayed House Stark while they were celebrating Robb's marriage, but at least he didn't skimp on the wedding band, whose drummer was none other than Will Champion from Coldplay.
Comedian, Nish Kumar, has described Champion as having the best job in the world; playing in a huge, stadium-filling band and making lots of money, but still being able to visit his local grocery store without being recognized. And so it proved, when Champion blended into the background of season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" as a drummer waiting to strike against the Starks. Like most drummers, he probably missed his cue.
While they may not be troubling the charts as often as Coldplay, Mastodon are one of the most important heavy metal bands of the 21st century, releasing a string of classic, genre-bending albums such as Leviathan, Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye. Mastodon's crowning achievement, however, is surely clocking up multiple appearances on Game of Thrones. Three quarters of the band, Brent Hinds (vocals/guitar), Bill Kelliher (guitar) and Brann Dailor (drums/vocals), had cameos as Wildlings in season 5's Hardhome battle, ultimately falling under the Night King's spell.
Hinds and Kelliher, whose wild hair and heavy beards lend themselves very well to the Game of Thrones aesthetic, reappeared two seasons later as Wights fighting for their icy king.
Not to be outdone by Robb Stark, the detestable Joffrey Baratheon hired Sigur Rós to perform at his wedding, though he too would be killed before the day was done. Featuring in the Purple Wedding episode, Sigur Rós play "The Rains of Castamere" but, unlike the previous Coldplay cameo, Game of Thrones puts a spotlight on the band, with Jonsi's ethereal vocals adding a touch of royal class to the extravagant event.
The Icelandic group's performance also plays over the episode's end credits, with their unique two-man organ affording the rendition a foreboding quality. While Natalie Dormer's Margaery Tyrell seems enchanted by the musicians, Joffrey is typically dismissive, tossing a bunch of coins at the troupe, which Sigur Rós eagerly pick up, and ushering them to leave. Clearly, their records aren't selling as strongly in Westeros.
Best known for their 2013 hit "Pompeii," Bastille's electronic indie stylings have earned the English band international acclaim, and also helped score a cameo in Game of Thrones season 7. In the season finale episode, "The Dragon and the Wolf," the Night King is slowly heading south to invade the land of living. Joining the two guitarists from Mastodon in some kind of undead supergroup is Bastille keyboardist, Kyle Simmons, who can be seen lumbering among the other Wights.
Game of Thrones' Bastille cameo is certainly one of the harder-to-spot musician appearances in the show and even die hard fans of the band might've struggled to see Simmons through the darkened snowy landscape and mass of bodies.
Most Game of Thrones cameos either pass by completely unnoticed or give knowing fans a small, fourth-wall breaking kick. This wasn't the case with Ed Sheeran's appearance in Game of Thrones season 7, which extended far beyond the realm of a simple cameo and turned into a small speaking part all of its own. Sheeran features as a travelling Lannister soldier that Arya Stark encounters in the forest and the popstar treats fans to a short song written especially for the episode.
Having contributed his musical talents, Sheeran continues to have an extended exchange with Arya that many viewers felt was gratuitous, slowing down the episode while adding nothing to the story. Ed's evident lack of acting experience didn't help matters, and the entire sequence came across like a strange dream, entirely out of keeping with the rest of the show. For better or worse, the experience didn't put Sheeran off acting, with the singer recently playing an exaggerated version of himself in Yesterday. Alas, Sheeran's Game of Thrones character didn't fare so well, with Bronn confirming in season 8 that the soldier had his face burned off by one of Daenerys' dragons. Perhaps the Khaleesi had heard "Shape of You" on the radio one too many times.
The Battle of Winterfell in Game of Thrones season 8 was a frantic and action-packed event, and viewers would be forgiven for not noticing country singer, Chris Stapleton, among the melee. Having worked as a renowned songwriter for years previously, Stapleton found fame as a solo artist in his own right with the 2015 album Traveller, and, as a huge Game of Thrones fan, was able to convince producers to let him cameo before the series came to an end.
With his trademark mane, Stapleton made for a natural Wildling but, like Mastodon and Bastille before him, soon became a pawn of the Night King, proving definitively that musicians are terrible at fighting. Stapleton's appearance might've also flown under the radar because of the intense critical discussion surrounding the Battle of Winterfell. Fans took shots at the nonsensical tactics and surprise ending, but the main point of contention was the battle's lighting, with many viewers struggling to see through the atmospheric gloom. While Game of Thrones' cinematographer defended the episode, the darkness made it hard to spot any celebrity cameos.
Jack Bevan (drums) and Jimmy Smith (guitars) of British indie band Foals also made their Game of Thrones debut in the Battle of Winterfell. This fact is known only because the band members themselves posted photos of their Winterfell costumes on Instagram, along with thanks to their management team for brokering the cameo. Unfortunately, Foals' presence in the battle is a point of mystery, with Smith even offering a chocolate reward to anyone who finds his Game of Thrones character in the episode.
It's not known whether Foals' scenes were cut from the finished edit or whether the band are simply lost in the mass of bodies and poor lighting, but they're definitely in there somewhere, fighting for the future of Westeros. (Photo via Jack Bevan)
With hits such as "Chasing Cars" and "Run" under their belts, Snow Patrol have made a telling impact on the music industry but, just like Coldplay's drummer, many of them could walk through a busy street unrecognized. Nevertheless, Snow Patrol fans were quick to point out the band's frontman, Gary Lightbody, in season 3's "Walk of Punishment." Lightbody's appearance is clearly signposted by his singing of traditional Westeros tune, "The Bear and the Maiden Fair."
In his Game of Thrones cameo, Lightbody portrays a soldier of House Bolton, and one of the men currently keeping Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth prisoner. "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" contains some typically dark lyrical themes about an animal that forcibly licks honey from the hair of a young women he desires. This could potentially be a reference to the soldiers' plans to rape Brienne - an attack Jaime manages to prevent with his quick-thinking.
Of Monsters And Men
Of Monsters and Men may have only had one hit song, 2012's "Little Talks," but they did also manage a Game of Thrones cameo after making several pleas to appear on the HBO series. In Game of Thrones season 6, Arya stumbles across a comedic theater performance lampooning the War of the Five Kings and the deaths of the Stark family. The troupe are accompanied by a house band, who just so happen to be members of the folk outfit, Of Monsters and Men.
Interestingly, Of Monsters and Men are the second band from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík to appear in Game of Thrones, following the Sigur Rós performance at Joffrey's wedding.
A unique entry on this list, Wilko Johnson didn't portray a nameless soldier or background extra, but a major character from George R. R. Martin's original novels. Hailing from Essex in England, Wilko has enjoyed an eclectic musical trajectory, playing in Dr. Feelgood and The Wilko Johnson Band, and performing alongside the likes of Ian Dury & The Blockheads and The Who's Roger Daltrey. Johnson's career would take an even more diverse turn when he was cast as the mute executioner Ser Ilyn Payne in Game of Thrones' debut season.
Payne has a superficial role in the HBO Game of Thrones adaptation but, featuring in a total of four episodes, this is far more than a simple cameo. For obvious reasons, Johnson's role was not a speaking part, with the singer and guitarist later claiming that he was hired purely to give other characters an intimidating glare - something that came naturally to him.