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"Why Can't We Be Friends?" is a song by the funk band War for their 1975 studio album of the same name. The song has a simple structure, with the phrase "Why can't we be friends?" being sung four times after each two-line verse amounting to over forty times in under four minutes. The song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1975. The song is unique as various members of the band exchange vocal duties from verse to verse. It was played in outer space when NASA beamed it to the linking of Soviet cosmonauts and U.S. astronauts for the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project.[1] Billboard ranked it as the No. 23 song of that year.

"Why Can't We Be Friends?"
War Why Can't We Be Friends single.jpg
Single by War
from the album Why Can't We Be Friends?
B-side"In Mazatlan"
ReleasedApril 1975
LabelUnited Artists
Songwriter(s)Papa Dee Allen, Harold Ray Brown, B. B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Howard E. Scott
Producer(s)Jerry Goldstein
War singles chronology
"Why Can't We Be Friends?"
"Low Rider"

In popular cultureEdit

"Why Can't We Be Friends?" was featured on the films Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and The Final Destination, as well as the theatrical trailer of Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. The song has also appeared in the Lethal Weapon franchise where it was featured in the fourth film Lethal Weapon 4 and the television series Lethal Weapon, from the series' third season episode "The Spy Who Loved Me".

Chart performanceEdit


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[5] Gold 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Smash Mouth versionEdit

"Why Can't We Be Friends?"
Single by Smash Mouth
from the album Fush Yu Mang
ReleasedApril 7, 1998
FormatCD single
GenreSka punk
Length4:46 (Album Version)
3:17 (Radio Edit)
Songwriter(s)Papa Dee Allen, Harold Ray Brown, B. B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Charles Miller, Lee Oskar, Howard E. Scott
Producer(s)Eric Valentine
Smash Mouth singles chronology
"Walkin' on the Sun"
"Why Can't We Be Friends?"
"The Fonz"

American pop rock band Smash Mouth covered the song on their debut album Fush Yu Mang on April 7, 1998, releasing it as their second single and was also featured in the 1998 films BASEketball and Wild Things.[6]


Chart (1998) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[7] 67
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[8] 19
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[9] 89
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[10] 39
Spain (AFYVE)[11] 5
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[12] 29
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[13] 28

Music videosEdit

War versionEdit

The video begins with two men playing chess while another group of men greet each other as the band performs. Then, the group dances as the band continues to perform. The scene then transitions to a person falling from the sky with a parachute. The person then serves wine to a couple as they kiss. When the lyrics, "I see you walking in China Town", are sung, we see China Town, but a man with a gun holds a woman hostage and steals a purse. Then, the woman chases after the man. Afterwards, we see people in a welfare office. Lonnie Jordan is then seen playing tennis, but loses the match. We then transition to Jordan portraying Uncle Sam, giving a crowd of people money. However, another man with a gun takes the money and runs off, leaving him shocked. B. B. Dickerson makes a speech via speech bubbles that have gibberish hieroglyphics on it. Even though it is gibberish, his speech is powerful, making the crowd cheer. While a group of children are playing, a man spies on them, but the children retaliate by chasing him in fast motion. The video ends with stills of the band in different locations with other people, followed by an animated face laughing and asking, "Why can't we be friends?" as it shows the album cover of the same name.

Smash Mouth versionEdit

The video features the band on the back of an old Chevrolet pick up truck as they travel to a restaurant in a small town to perform. Once there, they begin to sing the song. Suddenly, many of the patrons get up and begin dancing with Harwell. While the band continues to perform, Harwell goes around from table to table, singing in front of the people. He also slaps a couple of the waitress' butts. One waitress was offended, while the other one was turned on. Then, a customer is frustrated that the jukebox doesn't work, but Harwell steps in by hitting it, which makes it work. Afterwards, the band moves their performance to outside an Asian restaurant, where they perform in front of another dancing crowd. However, a policeman shows up to arrest an African-American man. Harwell notices what's going on and disperses the two. Then, the cop and the African-American man start dancing. Afterwards, a taxi crashes into a food stand, which then turns into a heated road rage between the grocer and the driver. Harwell, once again, stops the fight as he throws money into the air. The band continues to perform and the crowd continues to dance. Soon after, the band performs in a pawn shop. Outside the pawn shop, a cheerleader, and a man and woman dance, followed by another man dancing in the street. Then, everyone joins the dancing in the street. Suddenly, a dog angrily barks at a woman, but Harwell calms him down. As a result, the dog happily licks the girl. Then, scenes differ between the band performing and the people dancing in the street. The video ends with the band walking out of the pawn shop as the people cheer for them and Harwell is carried on his shoulders.


  1. ^ Gabriel San Roman (December 23, 2010). "WAR Is the Answer (and the Question) for Lonnie Jordan". OC Weekly. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  2. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  3. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 24, No. 14, December 27, 1975". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  4. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  5. ^ "American single certifications – War – Why Can't We Be Friends". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 21, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  6. ^ "Music — Why Can't We Be Friends? - Single by Smash Mouth". Amazon. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  7. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart Week Ending 24 May 1998". ARIA. Retrieved February 4, 2016.
  8. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (26.2 – 5.3. 1998)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). February 27, 1998. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  9. ^ " – Smash Mouth – Why Can't We Be Friends" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  10. ^ " – Smash Mouth – Why Can't We Be Friends". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  11. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  12. ^ " – Smash Mouth – Why Can't We Be Friends". Singles Top 100. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  13. ^ "Smash Mouth Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 6, 2018.