Civ IV Accidentally Wins A Grammy

Fellow writers of RPS: you have betrayed me. And on this, the day of love? You wound me, sirs, you wound me. The title track from Civilization – aka The Greatest Gaming Moment of 2005 – won a Grammy at the weekend. It is the first piece of music originally recorded for a videogame to ever scoop a Grammy win. We should have celebrated this. We should have posted three, four, five times about it. Yet no, you did not post it during my absence today. HAVE YOU NO LOVE IN YOUR HEARTS, SIRS?*

It is the song of union, the song of peace, the song of harmony. Come, let us reforge this bond between us! Let us sing it together.

BA BA DE DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM BABA DOO DEE DOoo… Alright, I don’t know any of the words, but I feel euphoric anyway. Here’s how it should sound:

While composer Christopher Tin originally composed Baba Yetu for Firaxis’ 2005 strategy game, it was his inclusion of it on 2010 album Calling All Dawns that saw him scoop a nomination for ‘Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)’ in America’s big-ass-deal music awards. Winning a Song Of The Year award five years after you released the song is pretty good going, too. Well done, Mr Tin, and well done to all those chaps you brought in to sing this cheerful tune.

Ah, poor old Civ 5. It had so much to live up to in Civ 4, in so many ways. When even the title screen music is instantly loveable, a game casts an intimidatingly tall shadow. Plus, it had this:

I will never get tired of posting that. Beep long and prosper, Spocky.

* Of course they do. I’m just being outraged for comic effect. They were, of course, just too busy righteously birthing the first part of our important Importantest PC Games Ever list.


  1. Thirith says:

    Baba Yetu. Yes, it’s derivative, Lion King reheated, but damn it, if the tune doesn’t work magnificently.

    And hearing Nimoy intone those beeps must be one of my favourite gaming moments ever.

  2. battles_atlas says:

    ANNNNND don’t forget that Civ IV also had John Adams for the modern era soundtrack.

    • formivore says:

      Not to mention Bach, and Beethoven, and Brahms, The glories of Western Civ. once you hit the Renaissance. How could they possible have thrown out Brahms? How…

      Oh, I’ll stop

  3. Sam says:

    My spine shivers and I get the urge to watch Avatar whenever I listen to that song (Beba Yetu not Beep, Beep).

    • KingMudkip says:

      Oh, good. Then it’s not just me.
      That was a pretty good track, I’ll admit.

    • omicron1 says:

      Avatar is pretty much the opposite of Civilization:

      Where Civilization is about the triumph of mankind, Avatar tears down the concept of human civilization.
      Where Civilization is about industrialization and expansion, Avatar is a fanatical worship of nature and tribalism.
      Where Civilization is about imperialism, war, and diplomacy, Avatar is about the supposed failure of all three.

      That said, the song fits with the general feeling/setting of Avatar, as far as tribalism/naturalism is concerned.
      But I would not sully Baba Yetu by associating it with such drivel. I’d rather associate it with, say, BBC’s “Planet Earth” or the “30 Years of National Geographic Specials” collection, which incidentally featured another amazing song whose name I forget – celebrations of nature without disparaging mankind in the process.

    • mlaskus says:

      Watch Avatar? Why on earth would you do this to yourself?

    • Danarchist says:

      You must be lots of fun at parties…..

      At least people will know where to pin the tail eh?

    • Jahkaivah says:

      Is that Avatar as in Na’vi or Benders?

    • James G says:


      By the other song, are you referring to Hoppipolla song by Sigur Rós? (link to

      Problem with Hoppipolla, is I can’t hear it without imagining a camera spinning around me and slowly ascending to the heavens.

    • omicron1 says:

      Nah, not from Planet Earth. There was a song from the National Geographic Specials collection which I found rather nice, but which I can’t find since.

    • Cooper says:



      Avatar perpetuates elitist, racist, social and cultural lies and myths of collonialism, it does -nothing- to disrupt them.

    • skalpadda says:

      “Avatar perpetuates elitist, racist, social and cultural lies and myths of collonialism, it does -nothing- to disrupt them.”

      And it does this through the tried and tested high school movie plot of the cool sporty guy who makes a bet to go out with the nerd girl, is a dick to her and her nerd friends but falls in love with her and has to redeem himself by fighting his old cool and sporty friends.

      It was rather pretty though.

    • Bhazor says:

      Avatar is basically just Ferngully.

    • Tetragrammaton says:

      Ah yes, Pocahontas in space. Except really bloody boring.
      The Art was pretty good though.

      Edit: Thanks mlaskus, that was genius.

    • mlaskus says:

      I know, I love Plinkett. Be sure to check out his other reviews, they are all great.

  4. Demiath says:

    An awful lot of warfare and bloodshed in that intro considering the song is such an upbeat version of the Lord’s Prayer and all…

  5. 8-bit says:

    its a Christian prayer isn’t it?

    • The Dark One says:

      Yes, and as such, this news should have been handled by John.

    • 8-bit says:

      Religious fella is he?

      Actually its interesting to think but how many atheists have played this game and liked this song without understanding what it was about, it would be funny to see their reaction on being told, not regular atheists mind you but those annoying militant type.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      I’m not sure I’ve ever met an atheist so hardcore they shirk from music that mentions God, since that would be a good deal of anything written before 1900

    • jalf says:

      I’m probably more or less what you’d consider a militant atheist (no, I don’t think people have a *right* to be wrong, or to avoid knowledge or to spread lies and misinformation). And I love the song.

      Why shouldn’t I?

      Religion has inspired a lot of beautiful art. And I don’t see it becoming any less beautiful just because someone involved believed in a god of some sort.

      Do you know many religious people who shirk away from anything that’s based in science?

      Oh also, I love the passive-aggressive way you attack atheists. Well done. You’ve definitely done your to tear down the barriers that separate us and enable all of mankind to live in harmony.

    • Grape says:

      Speaking as an Atheist who lives next door to a fundamentalist Christian couple who represents the absolute worst, slimy, negative Christian stereotypes crammed into two genuinely bad people, I can assure you that this knowledge did kill off my enjoyment of the song pretty bad – thanks for your concern.

      And music before the 1900 is completely cool. I’ve no problem with it. This was way, way back in “the stupid ages”, where religious fundamentalism was more of a rule than an exception.

      It’s significantly less cool in 2011, though.

    • Fuu says:

      I’m with jalf. I also love the chant music from the medieval era. It helps that they use a language I can’t understand – if it were sung in English it would lose something… and it might just come across as annoyingly preachy.

    • 8-bit says:

      I don’t know any personally but I have met people who do avoid science just because its science, I have met people who avoid anything to do with religion too so I figured that it works both ways and that there are people like that in the world. Sorry if I offended you or anything.

  6. c-Row says:

    Christopher Tin’s whole album is just amazing – it’s the sound of ten thousand unicorns making sweet love to my eardrums.

  7. westyfield says:

    Dammit games, you’re not supposed to be taken seriously. Get back in your place!

  8. Lacero says:

    Does the award make this an important game, suitable for inclusion in a list of important games?

  9. Luke says:

    Truly fantastic song. I was listening to something else, but now I think I’ll just play this for the next twenty minutes or so :) Sometimes I would start Civ 4 up and then decide I didn’t actually want to play but just leave the intro screen running while I pottered about in the office.

    Come to think of it, I used to just run around in Little Big Adventure for hours, listening to the tremendously upbeat music.

  10. LionsPhil says:

    It was helped pretty immensely by that SUNRISE on the title screen. I was pleased and amused to see that one of the options for the largely forgettable expansion packs (the only reason to install them is that the very last patch ot the very last pack removes the CD check, making it practical for ultraportables) is to revert to that original Earth screen.

    But yeah. Good song. Now someone give Alexander Brandon some fancypants recognition, because it’s heavily deserved. (UT, DX, Jazz Jackrabbit 2, all sorts of bits and bobs…pretty much the only reason to care about Dust: An Elysian Furry is because he’s doing music work for it.)

    • jalf says:

      Yep. The title screen was a thing of perfection. I love the song, but the Earth/sunrise fit it perfectly too.

      It’s kind of sad to think that this is basically the only game I’ve *ever* seen where the title screen (the very first impression you get of the game) has actually stood out as something positive.

  11. Kato says:

    On Kotaku they called this the “first ever games Grammy.” What a ridiculous statement. Games have been winning Technical Grammies for years. DOOM won a few years ago.

    But yes, Baba Yetu love.

  12. robaal says:

    Apparently you can sign up to his mailing list at link to and get a free mp3.

    Not sure if it’s the same song every time or random, but I got “Coronation” from the Civ IV OST.

    edit: also, here’s the acceptation speech: link to

  13. Tei says:

    We are lucky a artist got inspired to make so beafitul music for Civi. Really. For all the people that has invested long hours on the game, is a great gift. And of course, more than deserve the grammi.

  14. Metonymy says:

    I’m happy and all, but the song doesn’t really compare favorably to any pop song. It would work anywhere, like at the end of a bad star wars movie. And if his song would work anywhere, then why didn’t the guile theme win an award?

    To me, this proves that these awards carry little meaning. They are as subjective as the ‘most important games evar’ lists that sometimes appear on otherwise completely reputable news sources.

  15. omicron1 says:

    My favorite Christopher Tin song used to be Baba Yetu, but it has been eclipsed by Mado Kara Mieru:
    link to

    Which, completely without relation to the lyrics, is the most beautifully epic thing I have ever heard.

    • 8-bit says:

      has that music been used with something before because I keep listening to it and thinking it was used in a game. ZOE? panzer dragoon? I swear I have heard that music before, this is going to annoy me all week now.

    • omicron1 says:

      I apologize for nothing.

      I don’t think it’s from anything, though – it’s from Calling All Dawns, which is a 2010 album. Might’ve been composed earlier, though…

    • 8-bit says:

      I think you had better apologize since I am going to have to buy that album now and its going to be a week before I have the money to buy it, till then I am stuck with youtube videos.

      I think its the bit around 0:35 that stands out as being more familiar than any other part, I might have even heard it in a tv show or film or something but I have definitely heard that song before.

    • beefwit says:

      I registered an account just to thank you.

      Thank you for sharing that.

  16. endaround says:

    Aww, its a Grammy.

  17. Astalano says:


  18. jonfitt says:

    Can we get a retroactive Grammy for Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings in Homeworld?

  19. DXN says:

    Houffh! Gives me the shivers.

  20. Navagon says:

    I wonder if they’ll try and revoke the award when they realise it’s part of a soundtrack to one of those filthy game things?

    • Neoxess says:

      Well combining recent news and the fact you can carry out genocide in Civilization..

      This is will be on Fox as a rallying soundtrack for Rapists.

      …Still an awesome track though :)

    • Navagon says:

      An awesome track… OF RAPE!* D:

      *Think of the children!

  21. Out Reach says:

    How has someone not brought this up link to

  22. Teddy Leach says:

    I read that as ‘granny’. I feel unclean.

  23. MadTinkerer says:

    So that means Brentalfloss has done a cover of a grammy-winning song!?!

    Need advice from somebody wiser? Just ask Elvis: he’s your adviser!

    EDIT: Ninja’d, dang it.

  24. negativedge says:

    there’s a reason I find it so hard to go for military related victories in Civ IV

    culture all the way (even though it’s the most boring victory condition to shoot for)

  25. Psychopomp says:

    Airbender or catpeople?

    Edit:Reply fail. Supposed to be at whoever said Baba Yetu made them want to watch Avatar