There’s a reason we’ve all found ourselves at one time or another humming ‘The Rains of Castamere’ to ourselves, and it probably isn’t because we love reliving the dagger-in-chest sensation of Game of Thrones‘ infamous Red Wedding or tragically mountained Martell.
No, there is something intrinsically perfect about Game of Thrones-composer Ramin Djawadi’s morose take on the Westerosian tale of betrayal and comeuppance. So perfect, in fact, most of us are probably willing to re-watch even the most heinous of George R.R. Martin’s on-screen sadisms just to hear the song’s haunting strain. But thanks be to the Seven for YouTube!
Here are 4 of the best covers of ‘The Rains of Castamere’, for your listening pleasure (or woe).
Lewis Fitzjohn and Hawthorn
This choral collaboration is the haunting, ethereal song a show like Game of Thrones deserves. Hawthorn’s lilting voice is ghostly with a sense of tragedy accentuated by the lower-toned Fitzjohn.
Also, the decision to intersperse the verses with the main theme’s soaring bridge gives this take on ‘The Rains of Castamere’ a bookended feeling highly deserving of inclusion in the show.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s Dark Oath’s cover. When you want a metal cover of ‘The Rains…’, you usually have to choose between power metal and more power metal. Dark Oath’s cover is a breath of fresh (and blackened) air in that regard though. If Fitzjohn and Hawthorn presented the song as one of grief and mourning, Dark Oath channel the tale’s wrath. Any song about massacre is going to be as violent as it is woeful, and a black metal cover is the perfect avenue for the other side of that coin. Ferocious and grim, this version of ‘The Rains of Castamere’ is Tywin Lannister’s thunderous ride north condensed into sound.
Continuing the metal trend, The Foreshadowing provide the absolute best metal cover of ‘The Rains of Castamere’ you could ever hope to find. The gothic doom band does a perfect job of capturing Game of Thrones‘ sullen air and cranking it to the proverbial 11. Sung with a funereal baritone and interlaced with wailing melodies and a march of drums that hearken to the song’s background cleverly, this cover is as liable to get stuck in your head as Joffrey’s Barney-purple face is stuck beneath your eyelids.
Erutan is not new to the world of making geeks like me giggle and cry incessantly. Her album A Bard’s Side Quest is a collection where she gives video game songs her touch of soulful medieval folk. Her adaptation of ‘The Rains of Castamere’ is no less effective, breathing an interesting pep into the otherwise-lugubrious song.
Actually, between the harp and layers of seraphic vocals, one might think Erutan’s fanciful cover not exactly in keeping with the song’s dour context…that is, until watching the video and noticing the golden lion’s mask she wears. Then the song’s subtle cheer makes sense. ‘The Rains of Castamere’ would not be a song of mourning from a Lannister’s perspective, but in fact a reminder of victory and superiority. Erutan’s artful and spirited cover is something I imagine would not have been out of place in the heart of Casterly Rock.
These 4 are the top covers, but go do some hunting yourself. A melody as broodingly infectious as ‘The Rains…’ is sure to keep the covers coming, and I think there will always be as much room for a song in our ears as there is room for a knife in Robb Stark’s belly: just one more.