Fans far and wide tuned in to the July 16 premiere of “Game of Thrones” Season 7. In addition to catching up with fan-favorite characters, the episode received a dose of pop-culture thanks to a cameo from a very popular musician.
[Spoiler Alert: The remainder of this article contains spoilers for “Game of Thrones” Season 7, episode 1, “Dragonstone.”]
When Arya Stark was riding through the Riverlands, she came across a small camp of Lannister men. One of them was singing a song that he’d later describe as, “a new one.” It didn’t take the most eagle-eyed of fans to notice that the singing Lannister soldier was none other than pop superstar Ed Sheeran. The “Thinking Out Loud” and “Shape of You” singer sat with Arya and a band of men to split a rabbit and talk trash on the capital city of King’s Landing.
As Entertainment Weekly notes, Sheeran’s cameo in the show was announced in March at the South by Southwest Festival where co-showrunner David Benioff admitted that it was all an elaborate effort to surprise Arya actress Maisie Williams, who is a fan of Sheeran’s music.
“We knew that Maisie was a big fan of Ed Sheeran and for years we’ve been trying to get him on the show so we can surprise Maisie. This year, we finally did it,” he said.
The singer himself posted a couple photos to his Instagram celebrating the cameo and joking about being a Lannister soldier. Those familiar with the show will know that the Lannisters aren’t the most likable force in the kingdom.
Despite the good nature of Sheeran’s appearance, some fans of “Game of Thrones” weren’t happy to see the singer make such a blatant cameo.
Despite fan’s protest, it’s worth noting that Sheeran is far from the first musician to make a cameo on “Thrones.” As Rolling Stone points out, the HBO drama has allowed, and relied on, many cameos from the music world to round out the cast including Coldplay's Will Champion and Animal Circus's Joel Fry. However, few, if any, were as obvious as Sheeran’s.
Although having a singer on for the sake of singing a song might not have been everyone’s favorite moment on the popular show, the song itself held some significance to those that read the written source material of George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” books. Savvy fans noted that the lyrics appeared in “A Dance with Dragons,” sung to Tyrion Lannister.
“He rode through the streets of the city / Down from his hill on high / O’er the winds and the steps and the cobbles / He rode to a woman’s sigh / For she was his secret treasure / She was his shame and his bliss / And a chain and a keep are nothing / Compared to a woman’s kiss / For hands of gold are always cold / But a woman’s hands are warm.”