Music is a big part of HBO’s promotional push for the final season of Game of Thrones. The network is releasing new music with contemporary artists, while composer Ramin Djawadi is taking a well deserved curtain call for his years of work on the series.
Florence + The Machine
Florence + The Machine got the honor of being the last contemporary musicians to have their song played on Game of Thrones. The band recorded a special version of “Jenny of Oldstones” that was played over the credits of season 8’s second episode, which found the characters preparing for a world-changing battle. Florence Welch said the show originally had asked her to record “The Rains of Castamere” in season 2, but she was in her self-described “wild” phase and the offer didn’t register at the time. The show came back to her to record a modern interpretation of the song, which is about a woman who had a deadly affair with Duncan Targaryen. The song was sung by Daniel Portman, who plays Podrick, earlier in the episode.
Some of the background for the song was laid out in George R.R. Martin’s third book, A Storm of Swords, in one of Arya’s chapters. Arya is traveling with the Brothers Without Banners when a woman known as the Ghost of High Heart appears to tell the tale of doomed Jenny. Although fans of the book have speculated that the Ghost of High Heart is Old Jenny, the books have yet to clarify the issue and it was not a plot point of the series. Welch said the lyrics of the song made her think of old Celtic tunes and tales.
You may not know the name Ramin Djawadi but you definitely know his music. The composer has created music behind blockbusters like Iron Man in addition to Game of Thrones. Djawadi got his start in the business thanks to legendary composer Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean). Djawadi has created most of the music for the series, including its theme song. He produced “Game Of Thrones: The Live Concert Experience,” which toured arenas in 2017 and 2018. The sold-out tour featured the composer and a full orchestra and choir performing their music.
Djawadi told Grammy Magazine that his initial meeting with co-show runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss was most helpful for what they told him not to do. He said that they wanted him to stay away from medieval flutes, since everyone knew the show had swords and dragons, and they didn’t need to underline it with what was typical. They also told Djawadi that they wanted a more modern sound for the music, but with the use of older instruments. The three agreed that the signature instrument for the show would be the cello.
As for composing for the characters, Djawadi said he tried to create themes that highlighted what the characters were experiencing. The Stark themes, for instance, were undergirded with sadness because for most of the show (spoiler alert), the family was split up and trying to find their way back together.
For the Throne
HBO collaborated with Columbia Records for a soundtrack to the show called For the Throne. It features music inspired by the series by big name acts like Travis Scott, SZA, The Weekend, X Ambassadors, ASAP Rocky, Chloe x Halle and more. SZA and Scott’s ballad, “Power is Power,” will also have a splashy video. The album is due on April 26.