Friend Like Me

"Friend Like Me"
Song by Robin Williams
from the album Aladdin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
ReleasedOctober 31, 1992
GenreShow tune
Length2:26
LabelWalt Disney
Composer(s)Alan Menken
Lyricist(s)Howard Ashman

"Friend Like Me" is a song from the 1992 Disney film Aladdin. It was performed by Robin Williams in his role as the Genie. The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 65th Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song at the 50th Golden Globe Awards in 1993.

Production[edit]

The song was originally designed as a Cab Calloway-style big band number. After Robin Williams was cast, it was retooled as a more comedic, pop-culture-filled song.

ScreenCrush explains that remnants of the previous version of the film can be seen in this sequence:

Aladdin's original design was younger, more cartoony, and loosely based on actor Michael J. Fox. But Jeffrey Katzenberg wanted the design changed, fearing that Aladdin wasn't a suitable leading man for the beautiful Jasmine. So Aladdin's design was reworked to be less Michael J. Fox and more Tom Cruise. However, animation on the movie had already started, so you can see traces of the old Aladdin design during "Friend Like Me".[1]

Synopsis[edit]

The Genie is a supernatural character – and as such, he often uses anachronisms, such as the neon "Applause" sign at the end of this musical number, as well as various other references to famous media that would have been created centuries after the time period in which Aladdin is set.

After Aladdin releases the Genie from his lamp and the Genie explains that he can give Aladdin almost anything within a limit of three wishes, the Genie proves his nigh-omnipotent power to the skeptical thief with an impressive musical number, stressing that he is a friend unlike any other. This song is similar to the use of contemporary references in "Be Our Guest", performed by the enchanted cutlery of Beauty and the Beast, and "A Guy Like You", performed by the Gargoyles in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Critical reception[edit]

Spirituality & Practice described it as "the big production number of the film".[2]

In a review of the Broadway version of the film, BuzzFeed wrote that the "seven-and-a-half minute 'Friend Like Me' is easily this season's best production number, and a jaw-dropping athletic feat."[3] NewYork.com wrote "Rarely does a production number receive a standing ovation in the middle of a show, but 'Friend Like Me,' the big song".[4]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1995, Alvin and the Chipmunks recorded a cover of the song for their Disney-themed concept album When You Wish Upon a Chipmunk.[5][6]

Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas danced the song as a quickstep in season 8 of Dancing with the Stars. Season 18's Week 5 episode was Disney-themed and included a quickstep to "Friend Like Me" by Drew Carey and Cheryl Burke that featured an animated Genie dancing along. The dance scored a total of 28 from the four judges (including guest judge Donny Osmond). It was also danced to by Alison Hammond and Aljaž Skorjanec in Series 12, Week 7 of the British version of the show (titled Strictly Come Dancing). Their Charleston to this song scored a total of 27 from the judges.

In 1996 2Pac recorded the song "Never Had a Friend Like Me", which interpolates "Friend Like Me". This song is featured on the 1997 original soundtrack for the film, Gridlock'd.

Ne-Yo covered the song for the 2015 United States version of We Love Disney. An official music video is available online.[7]

Will Smith, as the Genie, performs the song in the 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin,[8] and as a rap in the end credits, with DJ Khaled.[9][10]

Charts[edit]

Will Smith version

Chart (2019) Peak
position
New Zealand Hot Singles (RMNZ)[11] 33
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[12] 49
South Korea (Gaon)[13] 96
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[14] 95

References[edit]

  1. ^ "10 Things You Didn't Know About Disney's "Aladdin"". Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  2. ^ "Aladdin - Film Reviews - Films - Spirituality & Practice". Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  3. ^ Futterman, Erica (May 19, 2014). "It's Impossible Not To Dance To "Friend Like Me" From The New "Aladdin" Musical". BuzzFeed.com. BuzzFeed Inc. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 29, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "The Chipmunks – When You Wish upon a Chipmunk". AllMusic. All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  6. ^ "When You Wish Upon A Chipmunk". Amazon.ca. Amazon.com, Inc. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  7. ^ "NE-YO - Friend Like Me". YouTube.com. WeLoveDisneyVEVO. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  8. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYxrVBu2_gc
  9. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PofrJqEQv0
  10. ^ https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1at7kKzBYxI
  11. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. June 3, 2019. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  12. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  13. ^ "Digital Chart – Week 26 of 2019". Gaon Chart (in Korean). Retrieved July 4, 2019.
  14. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 8, 2019.