Simlish: The best songs in the fakest language
Taking a study break to play The Sims? Katarina Butler has picked 5 uncanny covers of pop songs that you should listen out for.
The Sims is one of those video game franchises that tends to be played at specific moments in one’s life. Personally, I like to boot up my copy of The Sims 4 during particularly stressful periods – not solely to unwind, but also to procrastinate. Imagine my surprise when one such occasion led me to hearing a cover of Smash Mouth’s All Star being sung entirely in the games’ made-up language, Simlish.
Aside from making gamers feel as if they’re having a stroke, Simlish covers of popular and niche songs alike add that trademark whimsy to the games. The team behind The Sims have had great success in asking artists to re-record their own songs in the language, and I’d argue that these covers are the best in the collection.
As Simlish is not a real language, lyrics aren’t translated literally. Rather, music coordinators attempt to capture the emotion of the song through the strange scatting that Sims use to communicate. They do make the effort to maintain the same ‘lyrics’ for repeated lines and choruses, meaning the song is actually quite singable.
Some performers have remarked that while it’s hard to get the hang of singing in the strange language, they often remember the Simlish version of their songs for months after. As a purveyor of only the finest Simlish songs, I can guarantee that the dulcet tones of your favorite songs (but in Simlish) will delight.
Each expansion pack for the games brings with it a number of new covers, and luckily for you, I’ve gone to the effort of choosing the best songs sung in the language. Behold: the Simlish list.
Last Friday Night by Katy Perry
The song that inspired this article. I can’t get the image of Katy Perry awkwardly dancing to this in a vocal booth out of my head. The new lyrics are catchy, and somehow even better than the original. I never could relate to the imagery of the song – partying hasn’t always been my thing – but I really see myself in the Simlish version.
Daylight by Matt & Kim
Straight from the iPod Touch game Sims 3: World Adventures, this song has a special place in my heart. The song supports the philosophy of capturing all the emotion of the original performance in the new language, particularly in the bizarre landscape of The Sims. I’d argue that its use in this specific foray into smartphone games only reinforces the bizarre narrative of the song.
Smile by Lily Allen
This song’s bitchy yet sweet tone is perfect for The Sims. Available on Spotify, Lily Allen was clearly very proud of this one – as she should be. A perfect choice for the game, Smile is a song that just makes sense in Simlish.
We Are Young by Fun.
Scarily close to the English lyrics to the point where you think you know what the rest of the words will sound like, but then they slap you in the face with complete nonsense. It’s this exact and uncanny balance between recognisable lyrics and Simlish that makes it such a great cover.
Na Na Na by My Chemical Romance
This one feels like it’s cheating. There are many English words in the song, and the chorus of ‘na na na na’ is not replaced at all – not even with a Simlish equivalent syllable. Nonetheless, the song retains its catchy hook and is quite a good cover. How The Sims franchise managed to get the emo legends to re-record the song, I’ll never know.
I’ll finish with the wise words of a friend: Why limit yourself to the English language when you could be universally confusing?