Florence Welch took over vocal duties from Podrick Payne as the end credits of “Game of Thrones” rolled on Sunday night.
“Jenny of Oldstones,” a haunting song adapted from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, closed out Episode 2 of Season 8, titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” But first it was surprisingly sung by the benevolent squire (Daniel Portman) during a fireside scene that featured Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, and several of Winterfell’s newcomers.
In the lead-up to next week’s epic battle with the Night King’s army, the episode also tied up loose ends for some characters on their last night together. The episode’s writer Bryan Cogman described it as “a love letter to the characters.” So, in the words of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), how about a song?
The foreboding track’s first verse is directly from “Jenny’s Song” in Martin’s book series, which relies heavily on oral history, usually through song. The ballad is about Jenny Oldstones, whom Duncan Targaryen fell in love with and broke his family’s tradition of incest to marry. Their story has many parallels in the show (i.e. Robb Stark marrying Talisa and Rhaegar Targaryen marrying Lyanna Stark), potentially foreshadowing an arc this season for Daenerys Targaryen and Aegon Targaryen (née Jon Snow).
As for the show’s version, “Jenny of Oldstones,” executive producers Dan Weiss and David Benioff added more lyrics to Martin’s song and composer Ramin Djawadi, who created the HBO show’s iconic theme, wrote the music.
Doveman (singer Thomas Bartlett) produced the Florence + the Machine rendition.
English singer Welch, whose song “Seven Devils” was featured in the Season 2 “Game of Thrones” trailer, recorded the new tune after being personally approached by show creators Benioff and Weiss, who are longtime fans.
“[T]he season 2 trailer with her song ‘Seven Devils’ was possibly the most powerful we’ve ever had. So the opportunity to hear her otherworldly voice on our show was always at the forefront of our minds,” Benioff and Weiss said in a statement to The Times. “We’re still pleasantly shocked that she agreed to sing ‘Jenny of Oldstones,’ and we’re in love with the result.”
“When I first heard the song it sounded like a Celtic lullaby to me,” Welch said. “Celtic music has always been in my blood, so I felt like I could do something with it. The magic and ritual in ‘Game of Thrones,’ not to mention the costumes, have always appealed to me. I am honored to be a part of the final season.”
In Monday’s “Game Revealed” clip, Benioff said that he and Weiss wanted a song for “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” which leaned heavily on the characters’ humanity and intersecting back stories.
“We haven’t had an original [song] so this felt like the place for it and Daniel felt like the singer,” Benioff said.
Then screenwriter Dave Hill tipped off episode writer Bryan Cogman to Portman’s vocals. Portman, who on Monday set his off-Broadway debut, said he drank herbal teas and honey to prepare his voice for the gig.
“It was very high, I don’t usually sing as high as that,” he said.
The accompanying “Jenny of Oldstones” lyric video, set to the Florence + the Machine version of the song, revisited key moments from the sprawling fantasy drama, including scenes from Sunday’s episode, as the Emmy-winning show prepares to close out its eighth and final season.
Welch is the only artist to be featured in the final “Game of Thrones” season, but is one of many musicians who have contributed along the way. Notably, Coldplay drummer Will Champion, Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody and Ed Sheeran have also appeared on the show.
Last week, Columbia Records teased “For the Throne,” an album devoted to music inspired by the HBO series. The Weeknd, SZA and Travis Scott are featured on the lead track, “Power Is Power,” and the rest of the album features artists such as ASAP Rocky, Chloe x Halle, Ellie Goulding, Jacob Banks, James Arthur, the Lumineers, Maren Morris, Mumford & Sons and Rosalía, among others.
The album drops on Friday.