With apologies to English-language spellcheckers, AJ of teen-pop duo Aly & AJ has something to say: “Kaleedaspeeba hixafeeba weella neeba hixadooba.”
That line made her laugh when she sang it in the recording studio recently. But what in the world does it mean?
As the other half of the sister act explained, it’s what the lyric “Kaleidoscope of colors, turning hopes on fire, sun is burning” from the girls’ hit song “Chemicals React” sounds like when it’s translated into Simlish, the language spoken in the popular virtual-dollhouse video game series “The Sims.”
(Watch a clip of the Simlish version of “Chemicals React” — and the sisters translated into “Sims” characters — right here.)
The newly translated version is the focal track on “The Sims 2: Pets,” a PC and console spinoff to “The Sims 2″ that’s coming October 17 via Electronic Arts and game-development studio Maxis.
“It’s a very fine art,” Aly said over the phone from a Saginaw, Michigan, tour stop, when asked to explain how the song got translated. “AJ and I are huge ‘Sims’ fans. When we were asked to sing the song for the ‘Pets’ version, we were totally stoked.” Their secret weapon? “We already knew how to speak Simlish.”
The girls explained that carefully listening to the “Sims” games of old had put them in a good spot by the time EA approached them to sing in a non-native tongue. “They do speak it on the actual CD-ROM [of the game],” AJ said. “If you listen closely you can figure out, ‘Oh, “chemicals” would be this.’ OK, this is ‘chobe and ashashnah.’ ” (The spellchecker is once again weeping.)
“It’s definitely twisting the words around,” Aly added about Simlish, which, according to EA, was born from experiments with the Ukrainian and Tagalog languages.
Over the last couple of years, EA has convinced the Black Eyed Peas and Depeche Mode to warble hit singles into Sims speak. Aly said she checked out the Simlish version of Depeche Mode’s “Suffer Well” before the girls did their thing. “I almost like that version better than the regular one,” she said.
Some musician/ video game crossovers make life a little easier for the artist. Get a song featured in “Madden,” for example, and just savor the exposure. But occasionally a musician has to work for it, like recording an original track for 2K Sports’ “NBA 2K” series. But only EA’s Sims team has had the impetus and the pull to get artists to sing in a different language.
“It wasn’t totally easy, but it wasn’t like, ‘I’m totally stressing out over this,’ ” Aly said. What smoothed it out was the prior knowledge of Simlish. And the perks don’t hurt either: They get to see what they’d look like as game characters. And, seemingly even more to their liking, their dogs do too. Computer-graphic “Sims” versions of Aly & AJ appear in a special music video for the Simlish “Chemical React.” Nipping at their heels in that video are Aly’s dog Saint and AJ’s Bandit.
A copy of the video is available on the deluxe re-release of the sisters’ Into the Rush album. Aly & AJ are continuing their U.S. tour and recently recorded a Christmas LP that will be available on September 26.
“The Sims 2: Pets” brings domestic animals into the classic virtual dollhouse gameplay of “The Sims.” The PC, console and PSP versions will include the Aly & AJ song. The Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS versions will not.