“Friend Like Me” by Will Smith

“Friend Like Me” is a song from the popular Disney film “Aladdin”.  It was written for and featured on the original version, which came out in 1992.

Within the storyline of the film, it is recited by Genie, who is portrayed in the 2019 version by famed actor/rapper Will Smith. The song is sung when Aladdin frees Genie from his lamp. And Genie has the wherewithal to bring virtually any desire into reality. Thus, as many of us are already aware, in recognition of freeing him from the lamp, Genie grants Aladdin three wishes. And that is the fable upon which the lyrics of this song are based on.

That is to say that the titular “friend” is actually Genie himself. Thus he is actually singing primarily about himself throughout the song, with the addressee being Aladdin. And he is expressing two primary sentiments. One is once again his wherewithal to fulfill the desires of Aladdin’s heart. But more to the point of the title is his willingness to do so. Thus he is a “friend” unlike any other to Aladdin, as not only can he make his wishes come true but actually sees it as his mission to be at Aladdin’s service.  Therefore we can conclude that Genie’s ideology of friendship is based on the idea of being willing and able to do anything for a friend.


Considering that the song is centered specifically on those ideas, there really isn’t much general applicability which “Friend Like Me” possesses. It is very specific to the narrative of “Aladdin” and fits directly its storyline. Thus in this particular case, Will Smith does not necessarily relay the type of content which he is known for, despite the song being transformed into a rap. Rather he is roleplaying, taking on the character of “Genie” and speaking specifically to another fictional character within the framework of the story both are featured in.

Facts about “Friend Like Me” 

  • Will Smith first teased of this song on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” on the date of 6 May 2019.
  • There are actually two-different versions of this song which Will Smith performs in the film. First is his solo version within the actual movie. And the second, which has more of a hip-hop appeal, is played during the end credits. The latter version features DJ Khaled.
  • Lyrically this song is a faithful rendition of the one already made timeless by the late Robin Williams (1951-2014) in 1992. However, there has been some slight, modernized modifications.
  • Although Will Smith is accomplished as both a film actor and musician, this is the first song he has recorded for the soundtrack of a movie in two decades. The last time he did so was for another big-budget film he starred in, “Wild Wild West”, back in 1999.
  • Will Smith’s version of “Friend Like Me” charted in multiple countries. Examples include the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Scotland. 
  • “Friend Like Me” was written by Howard Ashman along with Alan Menken. It is featured on the 2019 edition of the “Aladdin (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)”. This project was released by Walt Disney Records on 22 May of that year.

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