Music has played a quintessential role in bringing the fictional world of the Seven Kingdoms to life. Based on the anthology, A Song of Ice and Fire, by acclaimed fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin, the HBO original series, Game of Thrones, has been a captivating adaptation, filled with intrigue, deception, decapitation and surprise musical guest stars.
The show’s original score was written by Iranian-German composer, Ramin Djawadi, who is perhaps best known for composing the soundtracks for several major motion pictures, TV shows and video games, such as Iron Man, Pacific Rim, Open Season, Warcraft, CBS crime drama, Person of Interest; FX sci-fi vampire program, The Strain; and HBO’s Westworld.
Djawadi first garnered the attention of Hans Zimmer in 1998, who recruited him to Remote Control Productions, where he worked under the guidance of German composer, Klaus Badelt. He would later go on to have his first big breakthrough in 2003, after collaborating with The RZA on the soundtrack for the movie, Blade: Trinity. And by 2010 Djawadi started working on much more mainstream compositions, including the soundtrack for the recent remake of Clash of the Titans.
Martin’s first book in the anthology, A Game of Thrones, was written in 1996, and since then, both the books and TV series have become an inspiration to a great many artists.
Here are just 10 of our favorite tracks inspired by HBO’s Game of Thrones:
1) "MaNyfaCedGod" – Jay-Z
Hov conjures the Many Faced God, a deity who is worshiped by the Faceless men, a group of assassins based in the free city of Braavos. In season 5, which was largely based on A Feast for Crows (2005) and A Dance with Dragons (2011), we see Arya Stark journey to the House of Black and White where she trained how to go undetected.
2) "King of the North" – Bugzy Malone
This always brings me back to the "Red Wedding." In season 3, a big twist in the story had fans divided on who they wanted to rule the Seven Kingdoms, when House Frey betrayed the "King of the North," Robb Stark, for not fulfilling his marital promise.
3) "Arya's Prayer" – Dominik Omega
"Valar Morghulis, all men must die." Boston rapper Dominik Omega really made a big splash with his Game of Thrones inspired rap, "Arya's Prayer." His references to the series are on point, making quips about the Lannisters, the Night's Watch, Harrenhal, and the Faceless men.
4) "To Take the Black" – The Sword
Can't get any more direct than this. Stoner metal band, The Sword, literally titled the song "To Take The Black" as a reference to Castle Black, the location at the base of The Wall, where Jon Snow and The Night's Watch are situated in order to protect the Seven Kingdom's from The Night King and his army of "White Walkers."
5) "The Ladder" – Common
Common lends his vocal talent on the Catch the Throne mixtape, which was released by HBO in 2014 to try and help the series appeal to a more multicultural urban youth. "The Ladder" speaks to the conflict and conquest experienced throughout the series and even mentions events such as "The Red Wedding."
6) "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" – The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady perform this traditional "story song," which is told throughout the books and tells the humorous story of a bear who goes to a fair and rescues a maiden. The song was featured on the Game of Thrones Season 3 Soundtrack and was one of only a select few instances where a mainstream band appeared on the soundtrack.
7) "The Rains of Castamere" – The National
Co-written by George R.R. Martin and performed by The National, "The Rains of Castamere" wrapped up the second season with a cover of the House Lannister theme.
8) "Mother of Dragons" – Big Boi
That's right… Daenerys Targaryen has her own song and it was written by none other than Outkast rapper, Big Boi, who raps about "the Khalessi," "dragons," and "White Walkers."
“Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons is one of my favorite characters," Big Boi told Vibe Magazine back in 2014. "The throne actually belongs to her and to see her plight to get back on top to where she belongs has been the thing. Last season ended with 'The Red Wedding' when the Lannisters knocked everybody off… like James Brown said, 'it’s the season to get the big payback.'"
9) "Winter is Coming" – HammerFall
Swedish heavy metal band, HammerFall, would name this track on their 2014 album, (r)Evolution after the House Stark motto. Their 2005 album, Chapter V: Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken was also inspired by the motto of House Martell of Dorne.
10) "The Rains of Castamere" – Sigur Rós
The "minstrels" at King Joffery's wedding peform an alternative rendition of the melody co-written by Djwadi and Martin for the series.