We've known for a while now that Will Smith's blue, bulbous, questionably top-knotted incarnation of the Genie in Disney's live-action Aladdin would be extremely cursed, an issue exacerbated by the news that he would apparently be rapping in the remake. But we didn't know just how cursed that alleged rap would be until this Wednesday, when—ahead of Aladdin's premiere on Friday—Disney unleashed the hellspawn that is the movie's full soundtrack.
We are now forced to bear witness to a reinterpretation of "Friend Like Me" featuring DJ Khaled, who somehow agreed to be a part of this. Brace yourselves:
Maybe you find yourself thinking that this song isn't all that bad—that it's a little corny, if anything, but ultimately harmless. Kind of catchy, even!
No, my friends. Make no mistake: This song is an affront to taste and decency, a hellacious, disturbing pestilence that must be wiped from this Earth—or, at the very least, should not be shown to children. It is just as cursed as we feared.
Right out of the gate, our ears are in pain: The song opens with the hair-raising screech of what sounds like a recorder, an instrument that has never and will never produce any pleasing noises. Here—being played by what sounds like a fifth grader practicing in music class, bleep-bloop-blEEEping all over the place—it is unbearable. Comically bad. And we haven't even gotten to the lyrics yet!
After some relatively straightforward hype-man stuff from DJ Khaled ("Another one!"), the Artist Formerly Known as the Fresh Prince begins to rap. "It's the Ali Baba," Smith grunts. "It's the big papa / It's the blue, handsome, Jasmine like a flower." This is our first brush with the weird, sexually suggestive elements that pervade the entire song. Sure, referring to oneself as "big papa" (read: daddy) might not seem overtly horny, but just wait. The whole sleazy, borderline erotic thing intensifies gradually throughout "Friend Like Me" until, ultimately, it is laid out clear as day, and you will wish desperately that you had never heard it.
Don't believe me? Just read these lines from the chorus:
Just a lamp and a rub away from whatever you want
Habibi, lemme show you the dream (Habibi!)
Just whisper if you don't wanna shout out what you need
But I promise you ain't never had a friend like me
To reiterate: Just a lamp and a rub away from whatever you want. A lamp and a... rub. I don't think I really need to dig into that one, though it is worth restating that this movie was made for children. Perhaps you’d say I’m reading too much into the rub part, to which I say this: Immediately after that innuendo-heavy line, DJ Khaled starts whisper-rapping like the Ying Yang Twins, whose 2005 hit "Wait (The Whisper Song)," you'll doubtlessly recall, is the one where they say "wait 'til you see my dick" like 10,000 times. So now, DJ Khaled's breathy “just whisper if you don't wanna shout out what you need” is inextricably linked, at least in this listener’s mind, with the Ying Yang Twins' “lemme whisper in ya ear," and, in turn, with lines like "walk around the club with ya thumb in ya mouth / put my dick in, take ya thumb out"—all spoken in our minds' eye by a genie in a kids' movie. Splendid!
Putting aside the sex thing for a second, this song is ostensibly about being an unprecedentedly good friend—but Will Smith sounds, uh, really angry for some reason? He gets more and more threatening throughout, half-screaming lines like "When I'm outta the lamp, man, I'm outta CONTROL!" until he and Khaled are just fully shouting "big time!" over and over again. Why is he so mad? How are we to believe the whole "I don't want you to lose / tryna help you dude" thing when he keeps on yelling at us???
OK, back to the filthy undertones. After he stops screaming, Smith starts heaving and says this: "Slide on 'em / Too fly on her / Just glide on her / Cool as a fan." That's the Genie telling Aladdin to bang Princess Jasmine, no? What else could that mean?
There's one line that's very pure—"I'm the coolest, bluest one of 'em all!"—which I admittedly love, because it is hilarious. But then the weird part about "rubbing" comes back, and DJ Khaled starts whispering again, and he and Smith start shouting "you ain't NEVER had a friend" real loud, and— ahh! What is happening!? How does this exist, and why is it being foisted upon children?!?!?!
These are questions I may never know the answers to, but I do know this: "Friend Like Me (End Title)" is just as deeply cursed as Smith's Genie itself, and I would really, really, really like them to both go back in the goddamn lamp.
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