Westeros isn’t so different from the world of pop. The top slot on the Billboard charts is just as sought-after as the Iron Throne — though artists use their music as weapons instead of, well, actual weapons.
So with the season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones arriving Sunday on HBO, we decided to see if we could draw a line between the citizens of the Seven Kingdoms and our very own pop royalty. These people are playing very different games, but often using similar strategies.
Justin Timberlake as Jon Snow
Why: There aren’t a lot of people to root for on Game of Thrones, but Jon Snow is (was?) about as close as it comes to a universally likeable character — and there’s no one more likeable in the music world than Justin Timberlake. From his standout *NSYNC days and his Justified solo debut, to bringing “SexyBack” and rocking a “Suit & Tie,” it’s hard to find a miss among his many hits. He’s like a one-man Night’s Watch over the Kingdom of Pop.
Sample Jon Quote: “Sometimes there is no happy choice, only one less grievous than the others.”
Sample Justin Lyric: “You should’ve picked honesty, then you may not have blown it.” (“Cry Me a River”)
Rihanna as Ygritte
Why: Rihanna and Ygritte are wild, brave and outspoken, they both have a killer head of hair, and they’re not afraid to put a Rude Boy in his place. Plus, they have that whole “one-name-only” thing in common. And if Justin Timberlake is Jon Snow, look no further than the 2008 song “Rehab” (featuring and written by JT) to know that they also make a great pair.
Sample Ygritte Quote: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Sample Rihanna Lyric: “Now, tell me now, tell me now, tell me now you know.” (“Stay”)
Taylor Swift as Daenerys Targaryen
Why: It obviously started with the flowing mane of blond curls, but it runs much deeper than hair (especially now that Taylor’s curls are a thing of the past). We’ve seen both these women grow from innocent damsels in distress to badass bosses, entirely in charge of their own destinies. The way Swift faced Apple Music head-on last year only to appear in their commercials this year? Definitely a modern-day Khaleesi move. And obviously Meredith and Olivia are Taylor’s very own dragons — just a little fluffier. To paraphrase “Blank Space”: Love’s a Game of Thrones, wanna play?
Sample Dany Quote: “I am not your little princess.”
Sample Taylor Lyric: “I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale.” (“White Horse”)
Madonna as Cersei Lannister
Why: Although Madonna dressed up as Daenerys for Halloween in 2014, we see the Queen of Pop more in line with the Dowager Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. It’s no mistake that both of these women have managed to stay in power for decades; they know that life is a game of chess and you always need to know the next move. It should be said, however, we’re not accusing Madonna of any inappropriate sibling relations or of plotting to kill family members — our Material Girl has her limits.
Sample Cersei Quote: “The more people you love, the weaker you are.”
Sample Madonna Lyric: “All by myself, I don’t need anyone at all.” (“You’ll See”)
Bruce Springsteen as Ned Stark
Why: Rewind to season 1 and remember the wise, humble and kind patriarch Eddard Stark. He always knew exactly the right thing to say, whether he was talking to the king or his preteen son. Our very own rock ‘n’ roll poet laureate, Bruce Springsteen, also always knows the right thing to say and has been teaching us lessons about ourselves for more than 40 years. As long as King Joffrey has nothing to do with it, here’s hoping we get another 40 years of wisdom.
Sample Ned Quote: “The winters are hard but the Starks will endure. We always have.”
Sample Bruce Lyric: “Well, we made a promise we swore we’d always remember … like soldiers on the winter’s night/ With a vow to defend, no retreat, baby, no surrender.” (“No Surrender”)
Lorde as Arya Stark
Why: If Maisie Williams ever needs to bow out of Game of Thrones, we think Lorde would make a pretty seamless transition. The younger Stark daughter and the New Zealand singer/songwriter never back down from a (sword)fight and have no interest in being Royals. Take a closer look at Lorde’s lyrics: They could have been written by George R. R. Martin himself.
Sample Arya Quote: “A bruise is a lesson… and each lesson makes us better.”
Sample Lorde Lyric: “All work and no play, let me count the bruises.” (“Still Sane”)