The 40 best songs about friendship
By Parker Hall
August 30, 2016
Thereâ€™s nothing better in the world than a good friend â€” except, perhaps, a good song about friendship. A theme that spans all genres â€” from pop and rap to electronic and country â€” musical artists have been pondering and praising friendship since time immemorial. Alas, we donâ€™t have recordings of ancient Etruscan or Sumerian odes to friendship, but we do have some other dope tracks on this Spotify playlist, by everyone from Biz Markie to Bette Midler. Grab a friend and take a listen.
â€œDeep Fried Frenz,â€ the fifth track off of MF Doomâ€™s food-related 2004 albumÂ Mm.. Food, samples an old-school rap song by Whodini called â€œFriends,â€ so youâ€™re kinda getting two friendship-themed songs in one. If youâ€™re friends with the masked rapper, donâ€™t worry: he doesnâ€™tÂ really want to deep fry you. He does, however, want to know who his real friends are. Hip-hop can be a tough game, but itâ€™s made better with some quality pals.
â€œJust A Friendâ€ by Biz Markie (1989) [Amazon, iTunes]
Poor Biz Markie canâ€™t catch a break in this 1989 lamentation of forlorn groupie love, in which the Clown Prince of Hip-Hop meets a girl while on concert and, after trying to date her, discovers she already has a manâ€“who she insists is â€œjust a friend.â€ This single was a one-hit wonder and Biz Markie hasnâ€™t been able to climb the charts since (appearing on reality shows and Men In Black II instead), but what a wonderful hit it is. â€œJust A Friendâ€ is now a dancefloor sing-along staple and a reminder that friendship can be bittersweet.
â€œYouâ€™ve Got A Friend In Meâ€ by Randy Newman & Lyle Lovett (1996) [Amazon,iTunes]
Speaking of bittersweet, theÂ Toy Story series and its theme song, â€œYouâ€™ve Got A Friend In Me,â€ take the cake, a very bittersweet cake. The song â€” written by Randy Newman and performed as a duet by Newman and Lyle Lovett â€” is a perfect to tribute to friends helping each other when times get tough.
We go from the bittersweet to the syrupy with â€œIâ€™ll Be There For Youâ€ by The Rembrandts, best known as the irritating yet catchy theme song for the TV showÂ Friends, making it a begrudgingly suitable track on this playlist. Weâ€™re really sorry. It has some nice and appropriate sentiments about friendship though, we promise!
â€œIâ€™ll Be There,â€ The Jackson 5â€™s soul song about soul mates, catapulted the quintet beyond the realm of mere bubblegum pop and up into the stratosphere, according to no less an authority than Michael Jackson himself. If you want more â€œIâ€™ll Be Thereâ€ in your listening life, check out Mariah Careyâ€™sÂ equally- powerfulÂ MTV UnpluggedÂ rendition.
So far, our songs about friendship are pretty straightforward and â€œYouâ€™re My Best Friendâ€ by Queen is no exception. Written by the bandâ€™s bassist John Deacon â€” who also provides those Wurlitzer piano notes â€” itâ€™s a catchy pop ballad about Deaconâ€™s relationship with his wife and the joys of a best friendship that endures into marriage.
Ben E Kingâ€™s R&B classic has scaled the Billboard charts twice in its lifetime: first when it was released in 1961, then in 1986 when it was re-released, coinciding with the blockbuster coming-of-age film of the same name, demonstrating the songâ€™s timeless appeal. Both â€œStand By Meâ€ andÂ Stand By Me serve as anthemic monuments to childhood camaraderie.
A friend in need is a friend indeed, as the saying goes, and â€œLean On Meâ€ by Bill Withers is a stirring expression of that sentiment. This song topped the Billboard charts twice: the Withers original went #1 in 1972, then the Club Nouveau cover reach the top spot in 1987, also winning the Grammy for Best R&B Song.
â€œWith A Little Help From My Friendsâ€ was first recorded by this British band called The Beatles â€” maybe youâ€™ve heard of them. Alas, the Beatles original is not on Spotify, so we must make do with the Joe Cocker rendition, but thatâ€™s okay because his cover is a friendship-themed classic in its own right, slower and bluesier than the poppy Beatles version. â€œWith A Little Help From My Friendsâ€ found new life 20 years after its release as the theme song of the nostalgic seriesÂ The Wonder Years.
â€œWhen the sun shines, weâ€™ll shine together/Told you Iâ€™ll be here forever/Said Iâ€™ll always be a friend/Took an oath Iâ€™mma stick it out til the end.â€ Is there a better expression of friendship than that? Rihanna had a string of early successes before â€œUmbrella,â€ but this 2007 single was her breakthrough hit, turning her into the chart-topping titan she is today. Itâ€™s also an affecting and danceable tune about the everlasting bond between friends.
Friendship is all about being honest with someone. For example, hypothetically, suppose you thought Sarah McLachlanâ€™s â€œI Will Remember Youâ€ was super schmaltzy and corny, but cried every time they played it under those â€œIn Memoriamâ€ tributes at award shows, or every time they played it at graduation ceremonies. Youâ€™d want to be honest with your friend about that.Â Hypothetically, of course. â€œWeep not for the memories.â€ Weâ€™ll try, Sarah!
Never take a good friend for granted. Always thank them for being a friend, as the 1978 Andrew Gold song reminds us. Later re-recorded by Cynthia Fee as the theme song of the NBC seriesÂ The Golden Girls, â€œThank You For Being A Friendâ€ includes such heartwarming notes of friendship as, â€œIf itâ€™s a car you lack/Iâ€™d surely buy you a Cadillac,â€ and some weirder lines like, â€œAnd when we die/And float away/Into the night/The Milky Way/Youâ€™ll hear me call.â€ Best friends forever, indeed.
The writing and recording of â€œYouâ€™ve Got A Friendâ€ was an exercise in friendship. Written by Carole King, it was then recorded simultaneously for both her album,Â Tapestry, and James Taylorâ€™s,Â Mud Slide Slim, with King and Taylor sharing the same backing musicians. NowÂ thatâ€™s a beautiful friendship.
So, you and your best buds are reuniting at a bar a few years after graduation. Whatâ€™s the song youâ€™re going to have the jukebox (if the bar even has one) play over and over? â€œThe Boys Are Back In Townâ€ by Thin Lizzy, of course. As you guys knock back some beers and reminisce about the old days, this hard rock classic will provide the perfect soundtrack.
What are friends for? Listen to this touching song by Dionne Warwick & Friends to find out. The â€œ& Friendsâ€ refers to Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder, which is a superb group of super friends if there ever was one. Alas, they gathered to record the single â€” co-written by Burt Bacharach â€” under less than cheerful auspices. The mid-1980s was the height of the AIDS epidemic, and â€œThatâ€™s What Friends Are Forâ€ was recorded to raise money for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. On the bright side, Dionne Warwick and her powerhouse pals raised over $3 million for the cause.
Released only two months after the murder of famed rapper The Notorious B.I.G., â€œIâ€™ll Be Missing Youâ€ by Puff Daddy, Faith Evans and 112 is a fitting tribute to their fallen friend and colleague. The track â€” which went on to be one of the best-selling singles of all time â€” samples The Policeâ€™s â€œEvery Breath You Take,â€ and because the producers never thought to get the sampling rights beforehand, Sting rakes in 100% of the publishing royalties.
â€œCloser than my peeps you are to me, baby.â€ Damn, thatâ€™s beautiful. â€œAngelâ€ is a love letter to that special girl in your life whoâ€™s also your best friend, someone whoâ€™s by your side through thick and thin. To paraphrase Shaggy himself, show the nation your appreciation of your own â€œdarling angelâ€ and crank this tune up.
This is probably the darkest song on the playlist since itâ€™s about a murder. Murderâ€™s a pretty dark subject. Sung from the point of view of a boy whoâ€™s been taken in for questioning about the murder of the titular Jenny, the juxtaposition of the Duran Duran-y basslines with lyrics like â€œThere ainâ€™t no motive for this crime/Jenny was a friend of mine,â€ is haunting.
In â€œBest Friend,â€ 50 Cent calls back to an earlier entry on this list, Biz Markieâ€™s â€œJust A Friend,â€ when he begs his best (girl) friend, â€œPlease say heâ€™s just a friend.â€ You see, 50â€™s got a problem: heâ€™s worried that heâ€™s been put in the friend zone, locked up in Palcatraz, and he sure as hell doesnâ€™t want to be. He lays out (in explicit detail) why he and this girl should be more than friends. Best of luck, Mr. Cent.
Hereâ€™s a high-school graduation staple. Itâ€™s about moving on and growing up and getting the â€œbig jobsâ€ and â€œbig money,â€ but still being friends with the people you palled around with in school. Itâ€™s both nostalgic about the past and excited for the future. And itâ€™s based on a piece of classical music called Pachelbelâ€™s Canon, so itâ€™s timeless.
Friendship is very important to rappers. Itâ€™s so important, in fact, that they tend to be a little hesitant about making new friends, hence this collaborative track by DJ Khaled, Drake, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. Sure, they might seem menacing and hard in the paint at first, but below the surface, theyâ€™re just a bunch of softies who love their friends. As long as theyâ€™re not new ones.
What are friends supposed to do? Just ask Bruno Mars. â€œYou can count on me like 1, 2, 3/Iâ€™ll be there/And I know when I need it/I can count on you like 4, 3, 2.â€ Good friends can count on each other in times of need, as this single from Bruno Marsâ€™s debut album,Â Doo-Wops & Hooligans, reaffirms.
The members of The Rolling Stones, especially Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, must know a thing or two about friendship. After all, theyâ€™ve all been friends (or at least colleagues) for like half a century now. So, you can trust their words when Jagger sings, â€œIâ€™m not waiting on a lady/Iâ€™m just waiting on a friend,â€ in this 1981 classic. By then, Jagger and Richards had mellowed out a bit, and were stopping to appreciate the finer things in life, like their partnership and friendship.
â€œBe careful of who you befriend on the Internetâ€ is basically the message of this electro house/brostep dance track. That girl you try to pick up online might go crazy â€” especially if you block her on Facebook â€” and break into your house. Pump up the volume on this one and let the crunchy synths overwhelm you, bro.
Another dance song about friendship, except this one doesnâ€™t sound like your cat knocking all the pots and pans off the counter. Instead, â€œAll My Friendsâ€ by LCD Soundsystem sounds like The Killers listened to a lot of Krautfunk, then decided to make a club banger, with some piano chords thrown in for good measure. The lyrics themselves are pretty great too, tracing the rise and fall of a friendship, with lines like, â€œIt comes apart/The way it does in bad films.â€ Perfect for a melancholic dance party.
This 1989 hit, first recorded by Bette Midler for the movieÂ Beaches, takes friendship appreciation to a whole â€˜nother level. Midler sings: â€œDid you ever know that youâ€™re my hero/Youâ€™re everything I wish I could be/I could fly higher than an eagle/For you are the wind beneath my wings.â€ Thatâ€™s some high praise.
Weezer has never really been known for their subtlety. They tell you straight up what theyâ€™re all about and thereâ€™s something refreshing about that. They keep that straightforward style for â€œMy Best Friend,â€ with a chorus that goes, â€œYou are my best friend/and I love you, and I love you/Yes I do.â€ Thatâ€™s just great, Weezer. Thanks a ton.
Remember when you were young and all you cared about was the first day of school and making new friends. â€œWeâ€™re Going To Be Friends,â€ off The White Stripesâ€™ third albumÂ White Blood Cells, captures that childhood anxiety and excitement perfectly. The lyrical and musical composition are simple, like a lullaby, and by the songâ€™s end, youâ€™re fully transported back to those early school and friendship days.
Okay, listening to this sunshine-pop oldie is a bit like chugging maple syrup, but whatever, itâ€™s a cute and catchy song about love and friendship. When you and your friend are so happy that â€œthe skiesâ€™ll be blueâ€ when youâ€™re together, you know youâ€™ve got a good thing going on.
â€œIf you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.â€ SayÂ what, Spice Girls? If you insist. â€œWannabeâ€ was an anthem of the Girl Power philosopher the pop group espoused, a song about female friendship and empowerment. It was written in less than 30 minutes, which just shows how creatively inspiring friendship can be.
Big Sean would like to remind you that no group of friends comes close to his group of friends, which includes members of GOOD Music (like Big Sean and Pusha T), Jay-Z and label head Kanye West. If you and your friends want to feel like the GOOD Music clique, turn on and turn up â€œClique.â€ Ainâ€™t nobody fresher.
Kanye West again. From his 2007 albumÂ Graduation, â€œBig Brotherâ€ is a touching tribute to his mentor and friend, Jay-Z. In the song, Kanye discusses how Jay-Z inspired him in the early days, giving him a shot at producing and rapping, then how a friendly sibling rivalry pushed Kanye to develop as an artist. â€œBig Brotherâ€ is a rare thing: a quality, heartfelt rap song about brotherly love.
â€œFriendsâ€ was the only single of the albumÂ Friends, the soundtrack to an obscure film calledÂ Friends. So, if you were wondering what itâ€™s about, wonder no more. Itâ€™s about friends. Recorded shortly before Elton John and collaborator Bernie Taupin made it big in the USA, â€œFriendsâ€ is a short and sweet salute to friendship.
You donâ€™t expect a snarling, snarky punk outfit like The Clash to record a typical song about friendship, and donâ€™t worry, they didnâ€™t. In â€œStay Free,â€ they detail a childhood friendship full of causing mischief during and after school, playing pool and smoking cigarettes. Then one of the friends punches the wrong guy and goes to jail. The songâ€™s ending is both ominous and hopeful: â€œGo easy â€¦ step lightly â€¦ stay free.â€
Rappers are a boastful lot. Swaggerâ€™s just something that comes with the territory. However, usually they brag about how many cars or gold chains they have, not about how great and unique a friend they are. In â€œNever Had A Friend Like Me,â€ 2Pac does exactly that. Allegedly, he wrote it for his close friend and boss at Death Row Records, Suge Knight.
As we get older, it can be harder and harder to make new friends. Pinegroveâ€™s excellent track on the subject is the solution to that problem, a new social beginning that starts with a resolution to meet new people. As the song says, â€œWhatâ€™s the worst that could happen?â€
When you ascend to any form of success, it can be hard to tell who your true friends are. The subject of Kanyeâ€™s classic-era-sounding new single is the kind of friendship where one party actually cares about the otherâ€™s feelings and emotions, not about what they can get from them.
Chance The Rapperâ€™s song highlights the fleeting nature of warm-weather friendships, where people meet on the street, interacting in a happy universe that seems to disappear come fall.
A song about a disagreement between two pals at a party that leads to a cathartic late-night smoking session,Â To You is a pleasant-sounding and somewhat corny love letter to friendship which perfectly encapsulates the emotionally awkward person inside each of us.
Itâ€™s never the wrong time to thank your friends for aiding in your successes, and thatâ€™s just what iconic classic rockers Big Star do here. A rocking jam which highlights all the people responsible for their good times, this song is the perfect thing to put on when you are surrounded by the ones you love, but just donâ€™t quite have the right words.