Love songs are all well and good. Slow jams are all well and sexy. But sometimes you need something more than a cuddle and a good, hard… jam. Sometimes you need a friend. These 20 songs see some of our favourite artists pay tribute to be best people in their life, the ones who’ll pick up the phone at 3am and listen to you moan about that wrong’un who did the dirty on you. Some are sweet and childish (see Jack White’s contribution to the canon), while others are altogether darker (Drake and The Weeknd, you’re lovely friends but you are also a filthy pair). Yet all have one thing in common: every song on this list will immediately make you want to call/text/hug your best buddy and tell them just how much they mean to you. And that’s the NME guarantee. Peruse our very best songs about friendship.
Bill Withers, 'Lean On Me': “You just call on me, brother / And I’ll lend a hand.” Songwriting genius Bill Withers was right – sometimes we do just need someone to lean on. Mentally, emotionally, perhaps physically after a big meal.
Carol King, ‘You’ve Got A Friend’: “You just call out my name / And you know wherever I am / I’ll come running,” the sing-songwriter promises on this beauty, taken from her 1971 easy listening masterpiece Tapestry. Quit blubbing and call your bestie right now.
Drake ft. The Weeknd, ‘Crew Love’: This faintly sordid R&B number is, in the main, less loving your friends than being a P.I.M.P with a big crew, which the ladies love, according to The Weeknd. Still, it features Drake boasting: “I blow like $50K on a vacation for all my soldiers, just to see the looks on they faces.” Bless ‘em.
Harry Nillson, 'Best Friend': This unashamedly sentimental Beatles pastiche sees the singer-songwriter pay tribute to his best friend. It features the lyric: “He's a one boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy”. One genius.com commenter has annotated the line with the words, “He’s talking about his dick”, though there’s little evidence to support this.
Justice vs. Simian, ‘We Are Your Friends’: Manchester electro group Simian’s song ‘Never Alone’ was remixed by French dance group Justice and made into a banger that soundtracked countless snogs at indie nights the world over. The video took Best Video at the MTV VMAs, though the presentation was interrupted by Kanye West, who felt his ‘Touch The Sky’ video should have won.
Kanye West ft. Big Sean & Jay Z, ‘Clique’: “Ain’t no-one fresher’n my motherufucking clique”, Big Sean offers on this throbbing rap track. By the time he, Jay and ‘Ye have finished battering your earholes with their braggadocio, you won’t have energy to disagree.
LCD Soundsystem – 'All My Friends': You move out of your dreary hometown, spend years making a life for yourself in the big city, then look around and realise you’ve lost touch with your old pals. Or, as James Murphy puts it in this seven-minute dance opus: “You spend the first five years tryna get with the plan / And the next five years tryna be with you friends again.”
Palma Violets – 'Best of Friends': Pained acceptance at being planted in the middle of the friend zone? Fiery acclamation of platonic relationships? Whichever way you want to look at it, this examination of putting friendship first is full-blooded and raw.
Queen, ‘You’re My Best Friend’: "You’re the best friend that I ever had," Freddie Mercury croons on this warm, freewheeling pop song written by bassist John Deacon. Stick it on and a montage of fun times with your bestie will automatically play in your head. Enjoy!
Randy Newman, ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’: If you can listen to this without thinking of Toy Story, you’re a better person than us. But the friends in question, are they Woody and Buzz, or Woody and his owner Andy? Toy Story is a complex film, and we don’t have a PHD in Pixar, so don’t look at us.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – 'Road Trippin': Frontman Anthony Kiedis, guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea went on a road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway together to surf following Frusciante’s return to the band in 1998 for ‘Californication’. Note the lack of drums – drummer Chad Smith couldn’t come along for the ride.
Spice Girls, 'Wannabe': Yeah! Girl power! The message of this song is beautifully and succinctly summed up by the line: “If you wanna be my lover, better get with my friends”. Mates before dates, right?
The Beatles, ‘I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends’: Taken from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, this was sung by Ringo Starr. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote it specifically for his range. Starr changed the line “What would you think if I sang out of tune / Would you throw ripe tomatoes at me?” for fear he’d be pelted by audiences for doing just that.
Bruno Mars, ‘Count On Me ‘: This easy-going acoustic ballad is an expression of true friendship, and of looking out for your group of best buds. “Find out what we’re made of / When we are called to help our friends in need,” Mars offers. FYI, our friends are better than yours.
The Drums – 'Best Friend': “You're my best friend,” frontman Jonathan Pierce sings here, “but then you died.” Don’t worry – he’s just kidding. The titular friend is guitarist Jacob Graham, whom the band imagined had died because it made the song “much more beautiful to us". Erm, cute?
The White Stripes, ‘'We’re Going To Be Friends': Suzy Lee, a recurring character in Jack White’s lyrics, finds herself the subject of this sweet acoustic ditty. Lyrically, the song sees a young White invite her to go for a walk, check out some bugs and “walk to school by ourselves”. Actually cute.
The Rembrandts, 'I'll Be There For You': Ross! Rachel! Monica! Chandler! Joey! Fun, kooky Phoebe! There’s only one show this song makes us think of. That’s right, Everybody Loves Raymond. No, just kidding, it is of course Friends.
Rolling Stones – 'Waiting On A Friend': This one from 1981 finds Jagger and co. being surprisingly sweet, singing about having the best of buds: “I need some one I can cry to,” Jagger sings with beautiful earnestness, “I need someone to protect”. Then again, it’s also about loitering in a doorway, so mixed messages here.
The Vaccines, 'Wolf Pack': This song describes the kind of overfamiliar acquaintance frontman Justin Young can't bear: "I don't even know you / You're just someone new I don't want to talk to." Or, as Young told NME: “I've never really liked people who try to hold court in social situations... This is an ode to my good friends."
Wolf Alice, 'Bros': "Oh, I'm so lucky, you are my best friend / Oh, there's no one, there's no one who knows me like you do." This beautifully simple – and super catchy – ode to childhood friendship evokes memories of catching the bus and getting dodgy haircuts together. We're not crying, you're crying.