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Lily Allen – Smile (in Simlish)

By Shamus
on Saturday Nov 1, 2008
Filed under:


This is the original video of the song “Smile” by Lily Allen . It reveals a story of a girl who was dumped by an unfaithful boyfriend and who then takes revenge on him through proxies so that he doesn’t realize that she’s the one behind his various miseries. Seeing him get his comeuppance is what makes her “smile”.

And this is a video of the same, using Sims 2:

Link (YouTube)

What’s interesting to me is that vocals are convincingly delivered in “Simlish”, that goofy pseudo-language spoken by Sims. I’ve never been a fan of it. It’s always sounded like an English speaker trying to speak another language, which makes it sound too much like baby talk. It has all the sounds and rhythms of English. There are better techniques for imitating language.

But in any case, Lily Allen recorded the version linked above, singing her own song in that nonsense-speak. It was done as a promotion for one of The Sims 2 expansion packs, and someone actually used Sims 2 to make the video. My hat is off to whoever got that job. As someone who mucked about with Sims 2 taking screenshots and videos, I can attest to the fact that this must have taken bloody ages.

Comments (26)

  1. Traska says:

    Much more impressive to me is Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold.

    Original version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X75mry1LcFg

    Simlish version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucYv1zX13zU

  2. Alleyoop says:

    I swear I read somewhere that one considered basis of Simlish was broken Ukranian. Seems like they went for Tom Waitsian instead, though it sounds perkier when Lily sings it.

    Simlish – the universal language that saves EA having to do ingame voice translations worldwide. ;)

  3. Mrs. Peel says:

    OT, but Shamus, did you see this? I sent the organization a note explaining what D&D really is (you just know they believe those Jack Chick tracts) and asking them to consider Romans 14…

  4. Spam Vader says:

    I must disagree with you about loading times, I’ve never had a problem with them, and Simlish, as I love made up language. Nonsensical words in a nonsensical order makes me focus more on the emotions behind those words, which is the important thing. And listening to actual English would actually point out how often phrases are repeated and how sometimes out of place they are.

  5. folo4 says:

    “his varies miseries”

    my English cringes for justice.


  6. Mrs. Peel says:

    Probably various, folo4.

    I heard back from the charity, and they say it was a misunderstanding based on their bureaucratic rules for endorsements. They weren’t very specific. I think it was probably a form email. So, maybe it was just a misunderstanding.

  7. Alan says:

    I wonder how many hundreds of hours it took to make those?

    I tried to see the video, but for the first time I saw on Youtube “This video is not available in your country”
    (I live in the UK).

    Is there some ban against this song in the UK? It is strange because I can see the sims version fine.

  8. Rustybadger says:

    Huh. Amusing, yes. Unfortunately the video you linked to on YouTube is not viewable outside of your Great Republic, so I had to hunt down another version. *sigh* Good old DRM.

  9. Nillo says:

    Alan: Yeah, it seems like the original video is unavailable in Europe. :< There are other identical videos on YouTube that are *not* banned here, though, so just go watch one of them instead. Go to the Sims 2 video and check the Related Videos list to find one.

  10. Thirith says:

    I would think that they imitated the sounds and rhythms of English on purpose – the main audience for the game was English-speaking, after all, so this meant that the Sims would sound familiar (and, as a result, more likeable) while avoiding concrete, repetitive speech samples. I don’t think this is a case of using inferior techniques to create a language but rather one of you (and probably others) not liking what it is they (quite successfully) went for, which isn’t the same.

  11. Don J says:

    Unavailable in Canada as well, which really makes me want to make time to install that proxy thing I saw ages ago on Lifehacker…

    Hulu.com also denies me. I can’t watch Dr. Horrible for free anymore! But some day… Well, some day I’ll probably buy it. But the proxy will reign anyway!

  12. Cuthalion says:

    Simlish – the universal language that saves EA having to do ingame voice translations worldwide. ;)

    Bah. They should use a real international language. Like Esparanto. (But then I’d have to learn Esparanto to know what they were saying…)

    And listening to actual English would actually point out how often phrases are repeated and how sometimes out of place they are.

    Just so long as Simlish isn’t like the aliens in KotOR. They had maybe 10 words it just randomized, making it sound like true gibberish, not just another language.

  13. Christian Groff says:

    Wow, you make videos with The Sims 2? I love that! I’m a big Sims 2 fan(go to boolprop.com for some awesome stories!) and love how you can play around with stuff. :)

  14. Plasma says:

    I must admit: I love Simlish. It hits exactly the right note of silliness to fit perfectly with the Sim games themselves.

    I especially like Simlish as lyrics for music. I think the only language better than Simlish for music is Latin. I love the songs on the College Rock station that comes with University (I have both the Simlish and English versions of most of the songs in my playlist, and I mostly like the Simlish versions better), as well as some of the Simlish songs that Barenaked Ladies have done.

  15. Maryam says:

    What are the better techniques for imitating language? I’m quite curious.

  16. W. Buffet says:

    It’s very interesting, although it sounds nothing like Japanese, the morphology of syllables in Simlish is identical to that of Japanese: a limited number of optional consonant sounds plus a vowel.

    Apparently Swahili and other East African languages form syllables in a similar fashion (there’s a town in Japan called Obama, and I once met a girl from Tanzania named Akira), which is why it could almost pass for Swahili or something. Simlish does sound a bit more stereotypically African, especially in the context of a song that’s sort of world-music-y.

    This daily bit of linguistic nerdery was brought to you buy the letter ð and the numeral ↂ. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog.

  17. lowlymarine says:

    “his varies miseries”

    my English cringes for justice.


    What makes my English cringe is when a comment thread gets up to 50 comments and the little doodad says “5n comments. Copious verbage.” It’s verbiage, not verbage, which isn’t even a real word (though a Google search reveals it to be a common misspelling, which I don’t understand at all because it’s even pronounced “ver-bee-ij” – well I suppose maybe it’s equally commonly mispronounced…)

    Which is all a real shame because other than that, Shamus’s website is one of the last bastions of good English (and excellent writing, I might add) on the internet.

  18. Nobody says:

    Maybe he means specifically there’s a lot of verbs in there?

  19. Alleyoop says:

    Well poo, I had a vague recollection that Navajo was also a considered basis for Simlish, but thought I was mixing it up with an X-Files episode. Turns out that’s true, according to the wiki – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simlish

    It’s the simlish text that has a slight basis in Cyrillic.

  20. Sesoron says:

    Buffet: I think “identical” is kind of a strong word to use there. I’ve been studying and listening to Japanese for years (especially songs), and this example of Simlish didn’t even ring a bell. And it’s not that I didn’t understand any of the words — my vocabulary in Japanese is usually poor enough that I have to rely on phonology to identify it when I hear it out of context — but there are a good many sounds in there that are perhaps not impossible in Japanese, but if you attempted them, it wouldn’t sound anything like this song, at the very least in terms of rhythm and accent. It’s the large number of consonant-w glides that really throws me off here.

    In General: And is there a reason why she keeps going sharp? Was it like that in the original version and she just got lazy?

  21. Telas says:

    What it shows me is just how shallow the song is without the lyrics…

    I wonder how many popular songs would sound shallow without their lyrics? (As opposed to pop songs, to which the answer would be “all of them”.)

    Mrs Peel @ 4: Much as I like Rich Burlew and OOTS, his post is very misleading. CCF didn’t reject the money; they refused to be the official charity of Gen Con well before the event. There’s a big difference.

    There are also a few flamewars on the web over this. I have to admit that I appreciate the irony of CCF being “presumed guilty” by gamers, who in turn claim that they’re being “presumed guilty” by Christians…

  22. Mrs. Peel says:

    Yeah, Telas, I emailed them and exchanged a few messages with their VP. It does sound like Burlew is misrepresenting what happened. At the same time, the CCF explanation is low on details (what guidelines exactly don’t allow them to be the beneficiary of a donation?). I suggested they put a press release on their site explaining exactly what happened.

    I assumed Burlew was acting in good faith. Seems like he’s not. I’m disappointed.

    And I have run into people (e.g., my mom) who still believe those ridiculous ’80s D&D horror stories, so you never know…

  23. Turbosloth says:

    Hey shamus, if you think that was impressive use of the sims 2 to do stuff, check out “The strangerhood” over at http://sh.roosterteeth.com/archive/?id=86 (that link is to epesode 1 of 17)

  24. Telas says:

    Mrs. Peel: To clarify, I don’t think Rich is intentionally misrepresenting anything; he probably just jumped to a conclusion or made an incorrect assumption. We’ve all done it, just not necessarily in public on our blog (and gotten an eight-page (and counting) flamewar going).

    As I read it, CCF didn’t have a problem with the donation; their issue was with being the *official* charity of Gen Con. Whether or not this has to do with the ignorance of the late 80s or not, we’ll never know.

    (In their defense, CCF has actually been singled out for being not evangelical enough for Christian charity watchdogs. PDF Link)

  25. Normal Rayna says:

    I’d love to see content like this, but filmed / produced in Second Life. Very cool.

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