Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead. When you think of Game of Thrones, you probably think of blood, guts, violence, nudity, and storylines you can't look away from. What you might omit from that list is a rousing musical number. But all that is set to change thanks to James Corden's musical spoof of Game of Thrones (which he spoofed alongside Stranger Things and Breaking Bad), which gives Westeros that moving soundtrack we didn't know we'd been waiting for. Even better, it's sung by the characters themselves.
Alan Cumming plays an eerily convincing, more melodic version of King Joffrey, James Corden plays the guard that carries out Joffrey's orders regarding Ned Stark's head, and Ned Stark is played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson in full Disney-hero mode. Me likey.
Probably my favorite aspect of the sketch is how convincing it is. I know its raison d'etre is make the audience cry-laugh about the sheer absurdity of Game of Thrones reimagined as a musical, but the really odd thing is that it's not that odd. Musicals rely on one key thing: sentimentality. Presumably, this is because musicals have less time than plays, TV shows, and movies to portray a gradual character development. They need to take that time and dedicate it to catchy musical numbers.
They also need us to be emotionally engaged so that we'll care what happens to the characters. The solution? Sentimentality — in the best possible way. A good musical should play on your heart like a violin. Think about "On My Own" from Les Miserables about an urchin imagining her crush is walking beside her, or Nancy's song in Oliver! "As Long As He Needs Me." You're tearing up just thinking about them, right?
Peculiarly enough, while you might not think of Game of Thrones as a sentimental show (its habit of killing off tons of characters at once has that effect), I'd argue it has moments that are every bit as sentimental as, say, High School Musical — in a truly enjoyable way. Like musicals, Game of Thrones has one key aspect standing in the way of long, detailed character development: action. The sheer quantity of characters and storylines means that, like a musical, the show must coax its audience into engaging emotionally with the characters as swiftly as possible. If you've ever watched the episode with the Red Wedding, you'll know exactly how effective that coaxing has been.
With this in mind, the songs don't seem jarring, but peculiarly natural. Ned Stark's death was the perfect material for parody, because Ned Stark was the axis around which the sentimentality of Season 1 revolved around. He was a ruthless warrior, but loved his kids more than anything. He supposedly cheated on his wife, but ,oh wait, no he didn't, he was just besmirching his own honor to protect a vulnerable woman's secret. He truly believed that it was possible to be powerful and just all at once.
Fact: Stark's storyline is perfect for the soaring emotion of a catchy melody, as are, I'd argue, any number of moments in Game of Thrones: Jon Snow's return from the grave, Shae and Tyrion Lannister's secret relationship, Jamie Lannister's yearning for his sister. So, sure. It's silly, it's funny, it's inappropriate — but it's also brilliant. Here's hoping one day we get a real Game of Thrones: The Musical. This just proves how good it could be.
Images: CBS; The Late Late Show With James Corden; Emmy Knock/Youtube (2)