The Sims is a basically a the video game equivalent of a fish tank, if your fish could accidentally drown because you didn’t put a ladder in their tank. The titular Sims speak in a a nonsense language created for the first game known as Simlish, a language the creators have somehow convinced actual working musicians to re-record their songs in.
To explain, in the first game in The Sims series called, funnily enough, The Sims, the game only really had a couple of instrumental songs that served as a background to your antics as either a benevolent sky-god or an all-seeing asshole who lives to torture the virtual denizens of the realm of existence you created to just spite them.
Radio stations exist in the game, but mostly play generic, stock music for each genre, something the creators were keen to fix in follow up games to make the world of the Sims feel more authentic. So when they were making the The Sims 2 the producers approached a number of artists known to be fans of the game and asked if they’d be willing to re-record some of their songs in their stupid made-up language. To audio director, Robi Kauker’s total surprise most every artist not only said yes, but seemed excited at the prospect of being able to scream random gibberish like an asshole. Katy Perry especially apparently fucking loves singing her songs in Simlish and has done so for two Sims games thus far.
According to Kauker, the effort that goes into recording Simlish versions of songs is not unlike the effort that goes into making an actual CD and the artists invited to re-record their songs go into a proper studio and everything. They even have a script.
If you’re wondering why artists need a script to sing a gibberish version of a song they wrote, that’s because although there’s no official translation of what any Simlish words mean in English, there does have to be some consistency to the lyrics to maintain the illusion that Simlish is a language with rules and structure. To this end, while the lyrics are pure fucking gibberish, the chorus will consist of the same gibberish lyrics, as will repeating lines and lyrical hooks. You know, just like a song.
As a result of this and the fact that it often takes artists multiple takes to get a clean take, many report that they’re still able to sing the Simlish version perfectly months, if not years later. Some artists even note that they prefer the Simlish version of their songs and report finding it difficult to sing the English version afterwards because it doesn’t flow as well in their own mind.
The really weird thing though is the range of artists The Sims has somehow roped into sitting in a studio and singing a nonsense version of one of their biggest hits. Along with pop stars like Katy Perry and Carly Rae Jepsen, artists who’ve decided to sing in Simlish include Paramore, Machine Head and the Bare Naked Ladies. Not your thing? Okay how about Junkie XL, OK Go or Depech Fucking Mode? Seriously, if there’s an artist or band you kind of liked in high school and are now embarrassed to have on your iPod, there’s a good chance they’ve recorded a song for a Sims game and loved every second of it.
Along with giving artists and bands a chance to step out of their comfort zone, recording songs in Simlish allows them to reach potential new fans. You may think this sounds like bullshit, but artists have reported not only being approach in the street by people who know them exclusively from a Sims game, but sometimes report hearing the lyrics to songs their singing live being sung back at them in fluent Simlish.
Man, and we thought Sims games were all about annoying virtual people by spending all their money on tiger skin rugs while occasionally being a dick to the Grim Reaper.