Sigur Ros' "The Rains of Castamere" vs. The National's Version: Which Is Better? — LISTEN
Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones may have temporarily broken Twitter and as someone who is seasons behind in their Iron Throne catch-up marathons, I dutifully avoided every R. R. Martin-themed hashtag to try to avoid spoilers. But, spoiler alert, I still learned that Joffrey dies. I suppose I'll survive until the next massacre-nuptials combo occurs, which could easily be later this season. But even if you, like me, are woefully out of touch with the current season of GoT, you can still enjoy the music. Sigur Ros provided a spooky cover of "The Rains of Castamere" that fans of pseudo-historical nudity and atmospheric rock can enjoy together.
True GoT junkies will remember that The National covered this ballad back in Season 2 and now that a second haunting version of the song has been added, only one can claim the musical throne. Who will rule, Jónsi Birgisson or Matt Berninger?
Although Berninger's gravelly baritone could easily melt ice, it seems like House Iceland may have the upper hand. In Sigur Ros's version, a sense of uneasiness clouds Birgisson's clear falsetto, and the ominous background tones remind us all that winter is coming. Also, the obnoxious high-pitched synth may be an earsore, but somehow makes the sound even more unsettling. This seems better suited to the constant scheming and plot twists of the show than The National's stripped-bare version.
While I will never stop loving the Tom Waits quality to Matt Berninger's voice, the slow build from an a cappella verse to simple strings and horns seems too bare-bones for the rich landscape of Westeros. Perhaps if there had been a little more cello, and a little less slow build, I could support this as a contender for Sigur Ros's space-age version, but as is, Birgisson can sit easily on the GoT cover throne.
Hopefully George R. R. will bring in even more bands to cover "The Rains of Castamere," so we can have a proper battle between multiple houses. For now, Sigur Ros can rest easily knowing their version has made fans just the right amount of uncomfortable.