Back before the intricacies of the thoroughly made-up ancient language of Dothraki in Game of Thrones entranced the more dorkish among us, that same sort of person spent his/her time immersed in Simlish, a language that was created for the world of the Sims, a popular franchise created by Maxis that was first released by Electronic Arts in 2000 in which users, in the act of ensuring that their anonymized suburb dwellers took out the trash on time, often ended up ...... neglecting to take out their own trash on time (that’s how I processed the experience of playing the game, anyway).
The Sims was enough of a sensation that it spawned some sequels, such as The Sims 2 in 2004 and The Sims 3 in 2009. By the time those franchises got going, the concept of Simlish had gotten embedded in enough people’s minds that someone, most likely Maxis audio director Robi Kauker or EA music marketing honcho Steve Schnur, had the idea of enlisting some top music acts to record some of their songs in the language. (Noted spud Mark Mothersbaugh was also hired to compose the music for The Sims 2, but there was no Simlish component to his contributions.)
The expansion pack The Sims 2: Open for Business, released in 2006, featured songs by several well-known acts, all of which shared the trait of having their most fruitful period occurring well before the year 2000. Depeche Mode released a Simlish version of “Suffer Well,” off of 2005’s Playing the Angel. At least that was a new song at the time—joining them on the The Sims 2: Open for Business soundtrack were Kajagoogoo, with “Too Shy” and Howard Jones, with “Things Can Only Get Better.”
Later expansion packs saw the inclusion of such Simlish classics as “Future” by Cut Copy, “Free Radicals” by the Flaming Lips from their 2006 album At War With the Mystics, “Take Out the Trash” by They Might Be Giants off their 2007 album The Else, “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!” by Janelle Monáe, and “Na Na Na” by My Chemical Romance. You can consult a complete list of Simlish music here.
To get an idea of what a Simlish song would sound like, here’s a bit of “Na Na Na” in English and then the same portion in Simlish:
Drugs, gimme drugs
Gimme drugs, I don’t need it
But I’ll sell what you got
Take the cash and I’ll keep it
Eight legs to the wall
Hit the gas, kill em’ all
And we crawl, and we crawl, and we crawl
You be my detonator
Trubs nibby trubs nibby trubs
Weys a neeba
Westu nell anzu bar will enash and za weeba
Da megs eeba za
Mental ras gibba na
Ebwee ga ebwee ga ebwee ga
Du bas an doobie sa
In a press release, you can find the rather anodyne quotation from David Gahan, which runs, “Depeche Mode has always been open to new ways of sharing our music, but re-recording a Simlish-language version of ‘Suffer Well’ just sounded completely bizarre. Of course, that’s why couldn’t resist doing it.”
Here are some of the primary highlights from the Simlish songbook:
Depeche Mode, “Suffer Well”:
Lots more after the jump…...