Leave Ed Sheeran Alone

Image: HBO

The reaction to Ed Sheeran's appearance on Game Of Thrones has been mixed, to say the least. The online vitriol has been so severe that the English pop-warbler was forced to quit Twitter, possibly never to return.

This is unjust. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Sheeran's cameo. Here are all the reasons why.

For those who missed the controversy, Ed Sheeran - the singer-songwriter behind such chart-topping hits as Shape of You and Thinking Out Loud - popped up in this week's episode of Game Of Thrones. The showrunners elected to cast him as a Lannister soldier... who just happens to enjoy campfire sing-songs.

Here's the offending scene:

And here are some reactions from Twitter:

We understand why people were pissed about this. On a surface level, it looks like a shameless cash grab on all sides, with the show's producers scoring free publicity and Sheeran getting to showcase his pipes to a new market.

It's almost as if Game Of Thrones' casting director saw Chris Martin in Extras and didn't realise it was a parody. (The fact Sheeran is a bit of a knob head in real life doesn't help either.)

However - and I realise this is going to take some convincing - the cameo fit perfectly into the world of Westeros and did not feel gratuitous in any way. Here are all the reasons you need to leave Ed Sheeran alone.

He looks like a Lannister!

With his fair complexion, lean stature and blue eyes, Sheeran looks every bit the likely Lannisport lad. He's also appropriately British and ordinary: we're not talking about some improbably cut pretty boy with an American accent here. This was not a case of woeful miscasting, at least as far as appearance is concerned.

He was singing a song from the books

In the now infamous scene, Arya approaches a Lannister camp just as one of the soldiers (Sheeran) finishes singing a song. "It's new," he tells her, which sounds like a gross wink to the audience. In reality, he's singing a song from the books about the ill-fated relationship between Shae and Tyrion Lannister. Here are the lyrics as they appear in A Clash Of Kings:

He rode through the streets of the city,

down from his hill on high,

O'er the wynds 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

Refrain:

For hands of gold are always cold, but a woman's hands are warm...

This is a nice little Easter egg for readers. The refrain is especially poignant when you consider Tyrion stangled Shae to death with a chain of golden hands.

The cameo was appropriately brief

If you had never heard of Ed Sheeran, you wouldn't have noticed anything weird about the scene he "starred" in. There were no extended singing scenes or lingering closeups to draw attention to the stunt casting. (In fact, one of the other Lannister soldiers received significantly more lines and screen time.) Apart from having a recognisable face, nothing about Sheeran's inclusion felt gratuitous.

Maisie digs Ed

Maisie Williams, who plays Arya on the show, is a confirmed mega-fan of Ed Sheeran. Apparently, this led directly to his casting so that the producers could surprise Williams on set. This doesn't excuse the decision, but at least there's a warm 'n' fuzzy reason behind it.

It's not the first time singers have starred in the show

Game Of Thrones has an established history of casting real-world musicians as inhabitants of Westeros. Other examples include Animal Circus's Joel Fry, Coldplay's Will Champion, Ian And The Blockheads' Wilko Johnson, Fontane's Michiel Huisman, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Mastodon and Sigur Rós. Granted, none of these artists are as recognisable as Sheeran, but at this point it's become something of a tradition.

The scene was actually important

This is the key to my argument. One of the main gripes people have about Sheeran's scene is that it was pointless and could have easily been removed entirely. This simply isn't true. The scene was crucial to the larger plot for a couple of reasons.

First, it allowed Arya to experience kindness at the hands of normal, everyday Lannisters. This will surely play into her character's arc which has been treading down a very dark path lately. Second, it provided Arya with information about Cersei's ascension to the Iron Throne, prompting her to reverse course and travel south to assassinate her. While Sheeran himself might not have been necessary, the scene as a whole was essential.

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Comments

    Leave Britney...err Ed...alone!!!

    If you like Arya, throw the damn girl a bone!

    Well, the producers did.

    I don't really care for the guy but he looked completely out of place to me. Maybe because he is widely recognisable outside of the show already? It was more Ed Sheeran is in GoT than this Lannister soldier is being played by Ed Sheeran.

    As I mention over at Giz this morning
    Ed Sheeran’s (slightly controversial) cameo
    I can't believe the hubbub about this. Sheeran has a love of these types of ye oldy time shanties and he's bloody good at them too, so I don't know why people are up in arms about him singing one in a period fantasy. I thought he fitted in perfectly.

      first ive heard of it. i reckon his songs are shit. but i listen to Metal so what else would you expect. but i didnt give a shit about him being in it. and yea, he did fit the stereotypical Lannister look. it was 5 minutes, who cares.

    I had no idea who he was before all these articles about him. Can't say I really care. Just putting it out there that no everyone cares about this stupid meme.

    "The scene was crucial to the lager plot for a couple of reasons."

    Is there a story arc about beer that I'm not aware of?

    Ed Sheeran has done a few roles like this, he played a character in The Bastard Executioner (and not a minor role like this). I honestly think he did a good job, he has said he has wanted to do more acting.

    "Ed Sheeran's appearance in Game of Thrones was absolutely terrible like there was no need for him to make a cameo" Um isn't' that the point of a cameo, none of them are needed!

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