There’s nothing better in the world than a good friend — except, perhaps, a good song about friendship. A theme that spans all genres — from pop and rap to electronic and country — musical artists have been pondering and praising friendship since time immemorial. Alas, we don’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.
“Deep Fried Frenz,” the fifth track off of MF Doom’s food-related 2004 album Mm.. Food, samples an old-school rap song by Whodini called “Friends,” so you’re kinda getting two friendship-themed songs in one. If you’re friends with the masked rapper, don’t worry: he doesn’t 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 it’s made better with some quality pals.
Poor Biz Markie can’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 man–who she insists is “just a friend.” This single was a one-hit wonder and Biz Markie hasn’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. “Just A Friend” is now a dancefloor sing-along staple and a reminder that friendship can be bittersweet.
Speaking of bittersweet, the Toy Story series and its theme song, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” take the cake, a very bittersweet cake. The song — written by Randy Newman and performed as a duet by Newman and Lyle Lovett — is a perfect to tribute to friends helping each other when times get tough.
We go from the bittersweet to the syrupy with “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts, best known as the irritating yet catchy theme song for the TV show Friends, making it a begrudgingly suitable track on this playlist. We’re really sorry. It has some nice and appropriate sentiments about friendship though, we promise!
“I’ll Be There,” The Jackson 5’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 “I’ll Be There” in your listening life, check out Mariah Carey’s equally- powerful MTV Unplugged rendition.
So far, our songs about friendship are pretty straightforward and “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen is no exception. Written by the band’s bassist John Deacon — who also provides those Wurlitzer piano notes — it’s a catchy pop ballad about Deacon’s relationship with his wife and the joys of a best friendship that endures into marriage.
Ben E King’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 song’s timeless appeal. Both “Stand By Me” and Stand By Me serve as anthemic monuments to childhood camaraderie.