Friend Like Me

Album: Aladdin Soundtrack (1992)
Play Video


  • Written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, this song from Disney's Aladdin has the Genie (Robin Williams) promising Aladdin (Scott Weinger) that he can make all of his dreams come true with three wishes.
  • Menken and Ashman didn't write this with Robin Williams in mind, but the actor would make the number his own. Menken told Entertainment Weekly: "We didn't know who was going to play the genie when we wrote the song. We were looking at the character as black, a hipster, and I suggested a Fats Waller, Harlem stride-piano style from the '40s. When Robin Williams was suggested, my first thought was, 'Can he sing like Fats Waller?' Robin learned every note. He was working on Hook at the time, and he would come in after being stuck in a harness all day and sit at the piano and learn. When we went into the studio, we got exactly the Fats Waller performance we wanted, and then everyone said, 'Okay, but now can we let Robin do his thing?' He was amazing. That trumpet wah-wah-wah was supposed to be from an instrument, and he made it vocal. He took ahold of the creative process, both on that and 'Prince Ali' especially. My God, he went crazy on 'Prince Ali.' He was doing the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Arab-style."
  • This was nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Original Song. It lost both to the film's "A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme)," a collaboration between Menken and lyricist Tim Rice.
  • Will Smith plays the genie in Disney's 2019 live-action Aladdin movie. He recorded "Friend Like Me" twice for the film's soundtrack: a solo rendition and a rap-heavy end title version which features DJ Khaled. "I started playing with the hip-hop flavor, and the Genie was really born in my mind from the music," Smith said about the latter version.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Charles Fox

Charles FoxSongwriter Interviews

After studying in Paris with a famous composition teacher, Charles became the most successful writer of TV theme songs.

Church Lyrics

Church LyricsMusic Quiz

Here is the church, here is the steeple - see if you can identify these lyrics that reference church.

La La Brooks of The Crystals

La La Brooks of The CrystalsSong Writing

The lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," La La explains how and why Phil Spector replaced The Crystals with Darlene Love on "He's A Rebel."

Pete Anderson

Pete AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Pete produced Dwight Yoakam, Michelle Shocked, Meat Puppets, and a very memorable track for Roy Orbison.

Fire On The Stage

Fire On The StageSong Writing

When you have a song called "Fire," it's tempting to set one - these guys did.

Paul Williams

Paul WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

He's a singer and an actor, but as a songwriter Paul helped make Kermit a cultured frog, turned a bank commercial into a huge hit and made love both "exciting and new" and "soft as an easy chair."