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There’s No Escaping Ed Sheeran, Even on ‘Game of Thrones’

The ubiquitous singer invades Westeros for no good reason

(HBO/Ringer illustration)
(HBO/Ringer illustration)

Ed Sheeran is the most inescapable person of 2017. Somehow, “Shape of You” — Sheeran’s megahit about smelly bedsheets and the differences between bars and nightclubs — is in every room you enter. If your Uber driver has the radio on, the song will play — no matter the station. It seemingly plays in every local grocery store across the country. Last Friday, I saw a man perform a steel drum cover of “Shape of You” on the Jay St.-MetroTech subway station platform in Brooklyn. The song’s marimba has infiltrated the deepest recesses of our minds, and we will forever be at its mercy, forced to hum the entire song against our will whenever that dun, dun, dun-dun, dun activates.

One would think the Season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones on Sunday night was a safe space, a brief respite from “Shape of You”–generated captivity. But the night is dark and full of Sheeran.

Smack-dab in the middle of the episode, as Arya rode through the Riverlands with a smile that said “I just single-handedly decimated an entire house,” singing could be heard in the distance. And though several men were harmonizing, the primary voice was unmistakable. It was him.

(All screenshots via HBO)
(All screenshots via HBO)

To be totally fair, Sheeran did warn us in April that he would be making a cameo on the show; on the other hand, maybe he undersold just how much SHEERAN the cameo would entail. “I just do a scene with Maisie [Williams],” he said. “I sing a song and she goes, ‘Oh, that’s a nice song.’” Reader, there was so much more. There were music-video-style close-ups:

There was Ed Sheeran repeating a line from a song from A Storm of Swords — “Hands of gold are always cold, but a woman’s hands are warm” — proving that even in a fantasy drama about dragons, his incantations about women are off-putting.

There was this, an exact replica of a dream I had recently:

There was Ed Sheeran confidently declaring that King’s Landing is the “worst place in the world.” Most of all, there was a lot of Ed Sheeran sitting silently next to Arya, staring into the distance, and being himself to a distracting degree:

Sheeran isn’t the first musician to appear on Game of Thrones. But the cameos made by members of Snow Patrol, Sigur Rós, and Coldplay were more of the “blink and you’ll miss it” variety, never as a focal point of their scenes. And simply, those other cameos worked — or rather, didn’t impact the show positively or negatively — because none of those guys were Ed Sheeran, an extremely famous singer with a no. 1 song and a penchant for unavoidable earworms and being everywhere. It’s easy to subtly throw Coldplay’s drummer into a scene; Ed Sheeran by definition is not subtle.

Now I’m just worried that the singer is going to start popping up in all of the other things I watch. First he’s part of the Lannister army, next he’ll be a member of the jury on Law and Order: SVU; a last-minute contestant on The Bachelorette; the anchor of CNN Tonight With Don Lemon; an extra in a rerun of Hitch; a contestant on Jeopardy!. Later this week, I’ll be watching a random inning of a random baseball game on ESPN. Ed Sheeran will be seated behind home plate. With a glint in his eyes, he’ll hold up a sign that says “I SEE YOU, ANDREW.” My apartment will go dark. You’ll never hear from me again.

Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.