Everyone has workout tunes. Or cleaning-the-house tunes. Or study tunes. And now, thanks to recent events, I have found my iso tunes.
The only thing keeping me sane, productive and upbeat during isolation is the soundtrack of my childhood. That is, the soundtrack of The Sims.
Not The Sims 2, and most definitely not The Sims 3 or 4. None of the occasionally-batshit expansion packs either. Just the original, the the one-and-only, the classic, which I will henceforth refer to as: The Sims 1.
The Sims (Original Soundtrack) is a genre-transcendent album which has a huge title to live up to. If The Sims sets out to encapsulate what it means to be human, then this is the soundtrack to our humanity.
Perhaps it’s because this soundtrack evokes memories of social interaction, the freedom to move around your neighbourhood, and a nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days of our childhoods, that it has stuck such a chord for me during iso. It’s escapism, reminiscing, and hope all in one.
Let’s dissect the sound of Bella Goth’s prime years song-by-song.
Now this is elevator music you can bop your bussy to.
Whether you’re vacuuming your bedroom for the third time in a day, or staring pensively out the window waiting for the the mail to arrive, “Now Entering” is that upbeat-neutral soundtrack we all need to make passing the time feel less pathetic.
I can’t read and listen to music at the same time. But “Neighbourhood” is the one exception to that rule.
Something about the way the marimba riffs of the jazz piano really gets those brain juices flowing, especially in iso when there very little mental stimulation. When listing to this song, my brain becomes a hyperactive sponge.
“Under Construction” and “Buying Lumber”
Sometimes when I was 9, I would just open build mode in The Sims 1 and just listen to the melancholy tones of “Under Construction”.
Little old me, taking a break from unleashing angst upon my Sims to take a moment to dwell in my own, irl angst, whatever that may have been at the time. It’s my meditation, both back then and now in iso.
The same applies to “Buying Lumber”. It’s impossible to listen to this track and not be overcome by inner serenity.
Do you hear that? It’s the sounds of a linoleum floor and a totally clear head.
An absolute icon of the Sims 1 sound track. Listening to “Mall Rat” and its chirpy string plucks sends me into an out-of-body experience in which I gaze upon a timelapse my own body completing menial household tasks. This track makes me at one with the lowly Sim arduously mopping on triple-speed.
“Mall Rat” is like a drug to me.
The way it instantly pummels listeners with nostalgia forces my body to crank out a year’s worth of serotonin. Meanwhile, the rhythm send my motor skills into overdrive.
Groceries? In this pandemic?
You better believe it, because this track is the only thing that puts a spring in my step despite not having left the house in weeks.
A century ago, families would gather around the radio to listen to the day’s music. Listening to “Groceries” is the 21st-century equivalent of that. It just makes me happy.
“SIMnata #4” and “SIMnata #15”
Anyone who thinks people who play The Sims aren’t cultured needs to hear these two tracks.
Better yet, the SIMnatas are innovative too. At three to four minutes in length, they’re far shorter than an average sonata, making them ideal to listen to on repeat.
Their titles also imply the existence of SIMnatas #1 through #15. We live in hope for the remaining 13 SIMnatas to be released in an album one day.
“BOSim Nova” and “Samba SIM”
Too often are disparate genres condensed in to the pathetic moniker “world music”, but it’s hard not to pair these bossa nova and samba tracks simply because they compliment each other so well.
Fuck the Austin Powers soundtrack – “BOSim Nova” is the pop-culture bossa nova track to slave over an intricate dessert to. With this track playing, I am suddenly the master of my compulsively-spotless iso kitchen, and the remaining shrouds of my culinary ineptitude melt away into the cold winter air. It’s also a great chance to practice my whistling.
Meanwhile, listening to “Samba SIM” takes my mind to the forbidden mass gatherings of my iso fantasies. I experience a kind of synesthesia in which I can smell the sweat of strangers grinding up against me in the street as soon as I hear that whistle.
You know those daggy, middle-aged white guys who whip out their harmonicas and go to town? They’re actually vibing.
“SIM Nights” is like if that same guy had access to a whole recording studio and a team of producers. It rocks. Perfect for a big night in.
“Fishin’”, “SIM Hoedown” and “SIM Yonder”
Country music never went away, y’all.
A full six years (!) before Hannah Montanna had us all popping-it, locking-it and pocadotting-it, we had The Sims 1 to hoedown to.
Don’t write the banjo off as an irritating instrument until you’ve chewed tobacco in iso to “Fishin’”. Actually maybe don’t chew tobacco.
Similarly, “SIM Hoedown” brings back that precious joy of being outdoors. Yee-haw, inject that sweet sound of fresh air directly into my veins.
To top it all off, “SIM Yonder” simply makes iso feel less damn slow. That might seem obvious because it’s so upbeat, but it’s the urge to kick up dust which really does it for me.
Not sure about this one, tbh. They can’t all be perfect.
It’s now clear as day how much of a masterpiece the Sims 1 soundtrack is. It’s no wonder it has since become the soundtrack to my time in iso, too.
Don’t take my word for it. Or do, seeing as you’ve literally just read what I have to say on the matter. But also consider impact of this soundtrack beyond video games.
Atlanta duo Coco & Clair Clair even produced a trap remix of “Mall Rat” from The Sims 1, which just shows how damn versatile this sound really is. It’s just a shame they named the song “Sims 2”.