Top 15 Songs About Platonic Love
by Sammi Graham, MT-BC
As a music therapist with a sentimental heart I love to create holiday-themed session plans whenever possible, but I’ve found that Valentine’s Day can be a difficult topic to find therapeutic applications for due to its romantic connotations.
In February of 2019 I created a Valentine’s themed session plan centered on self-love, positive self-talk, and self-worth. This year I wanted to focus on the idea of expressing love in non-romantic relationships. While Valentine’s Day is a rather commercialized holiday, it can simply serve as an opportunity for us to show our appreciation for our loved ones (romantic or otherwise).
With these considerations in mind, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be some of the greatest songs about platonic love and relationships. Music therapists can easily incorporate these songs into their practice, and anyone can simply share a meaningful song or this playlist(!) with a loved one this Valentine’s Day to remind them just how much they care.
15. “Poprocks & Coke” by Green Day
This surprisingly wholesome song from Green Day’s 2001 album, International Superhits, is a dependability anthem. This upbeat pop-punk jam is chock-full of positive affirmations and reassurance.
“If you should fall
You know I’ll be there
To catch the call
You know I’ll be there
I’ll go anywhere
So I’ll see you there”
14. “Count On Me” by Bruno Mars
This charming and catchy song from Bruno Mars’ debut album has been covered and used in commercials to instill feelings of hope and comfort:
“You’ll always have my shoulder when you cry
I’ll never let go
Never say goodbye”
I appreciate that although the song is primarily a one-sided message, the ending tag acknowledges the reciprocation of the relationship:
“You can count on me ’cause I can count on you”
13. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
This Motown classic has an uplifting message that fills the hearts of listeners. The familiar chorus, whether interpreted literally or metaphorically, can be applicable to so many lives and situations:
“there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe”
12. “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King
Carole King’s 1971 Grammy award-winning hit from her best-selling album, Tapestry, is brimming with heartfelt, reassuring lyrics and driven by a beautiful piano accompaniment typical to her style. This song can be affirming for those who live far from their loved ones:
“Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night”
11. “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5
“I’ll Be There” was a chart-topping hit that made The Jackson 5 the first black male group to achieve four consecutive number-one pop hits. Released when Michael was only 11 years old, this song contains lyrics that are warm and supportive:
“I’ll reach out my hand to you
I’ll have faith in all you do”
“I’ll be there to protect you
With unselfish love that respects you”
10. “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen
“You’re My Best Friend” with its bright, pop feel, John Deacon, bassist of Queen, wrote this cheerful tune for his wife.
This song depicts one of the cornerstones of healthy relationships: the idea that both people should lift each other up and encourage each other to be the best version of themselves.
“Whenever this world is cruel to me
I got you to help me forgive”
9. “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge
This iconic 1978 disco tune is an unapologetic celebration of affection:
“All of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose”
I also love the emphasis of being enthusiastically supportive of one another and celebrating each other’s successes:
“Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong, oh no
This is our family jewel”
8. “Hate to See Your Heart Break” by Paramore
This gentle song from Paramore’s self-titled album is filled with validating and encouraging lyrics for anyone going through hard times:
“For all the air that’s in your lungs
For all the joy that is to come
For all the things that you’re alive to feel
Just let the pain remind you hearts can heal
Well, how were you to know?”
Hayley Williams re-recorded this song with her longtime friend, Joy Williams. In an interview with NPR, Williams had this to say about the song:
“It was never meant as a romantic song between lovers but always a song to a friend. Now it’s even more special. I think of it as an ode to sisterhood. Close friendship between women who share their stories with each other and who lift each other up and understand one another.”
7. “I’ll Stand By You” by Pretenders
“I’ll Stand By You” is a slow ballad atypical of the Pretenders’ standard sound. Used in several charity campaigns, in this song “the singer pledges love and faithful assistance to a loved one in times of personal darkness.”
There are lines that validate and encourage expression of emotion:
“Don’t be ashamed to cry”
“So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside”
The person passing on this message also reassures their loved one that they will remain nonjudgmental:
“Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less”
6. “Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver
This is one of my favorite songs of all time. In true John Denver fashion, the lyrics are poetic and they communicate so much in a simple way.
“Sunshine On My Shoulders” is about selflessly wishing all of the happiness in the world for a loved one. For Denver, that happiness is beautiful day outdoors filled with sunshine:
“If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way”
5. “Songbird” by Fleetwood Mac
Written by Christine McVie, “Songbird” is a glimmer of light and love amidst the turmoil and pain conveyed in Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. McVie stated that she composed this song as a message to her bandmates. She wanted to remind them that despite everything they’ve been through, they’re still important and cherished friends to her:
“And I wish you all the love in the world.
But most of all, I wish it from myself.”
In a TV documentary about the album, McVie said that the song is “about nobody and everybody…in retrospect, it’s like an anthem…a little prayer of sorts.”
4. “You’ll Be In My Heart” by Phil Collins
“You’ll Be In My Heart”, written and recorded for Disney’s Tarzan, was originally a lullaby composed by Collins for his daughter. This moving and earnest song would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In the context of the movie, this song is shared between Tarzan and his adoptive mother, but the lyrics can apply to so many situations: non-nuclear families, those experiencing grief/loss, etc.
“’Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more
You’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You’ll be here in my heart
3. “Stand By You” by Rachel Platten
Rachel Platten released “Stand By You” after the success of her breakthrough pop single, “Fight Song”. Platten said the song is “…a love song in its core. …about sticking by the person you love not only when things are easy, but being there for them during trials and letting them know they aren’t alone.”
I appreciate that while this song has a positive message it doesn’t shy away from the gritty and ugly parts of life:
“Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you”
“I’ll be your eyes when yours can’t shine
I’ll be your arms, I’ll be your steady satellite
And when you can’t rise, well, I’ll cry with you on hands and knees
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you”
2. “Crowded Table” by The Highwomen
Female country music supergroup, The Highwomen, released “Crowded Table” on their self-titled debut album.
As Rolling Stone so eloquently put it, the song is “…much more than a song about wanting a generous domestic life. “Crowded Table” is about looking for a world where everyone is given a chance to fit in… This isn’t about leaning in or fighting for the top chair. It’s about making room.”
While most of the songs on this list focus on singular relationships, this song centers on a feeling of community:
“I want a house with a crowded table
And a place by the fire for everyone”
It drives home the idea that one must be willing to give the love they wish to receive:
“If it’s love that we give
Then it’s love that we reap”
And emphasizes the importance of being open and understanding:
“Everyone’s a little broken
And everyone belongs”
1. “True Kinda Love” from The Steven Universe: The Movie
“True Kinda Love” is a jazzy tune sung by British singer-songwriter Estelle and Zach Callison (voice of Steven). Steven Universe is an animated children’s series on Cartoon Network that examines heavy issues like depression, boundaries, grief, and trauma in a child-friendly way.
This song, performed at the conclusion of the Steven Universe movie, gives an accurate depiction of the effect of mental illness but imparts a validating and encouraging message.
“Oh, when a difficult day goes by
Keeping it together is hard but that’s why
You’ve got to try
You’ve got to try
And when there’s a thundering storm outside
Underneath the covers you huddle and hide
Open your eyes
Open your eyes”
“Hey, you, show me that solvable problem
We can get through this
I’ll do the hardest part with you”
The catchy refrain, “It’s the true kinda love”, can be used as a way to discuss healthy relationships with children.
I hope you enjoyed my list of platonic love songs. Comment below with a song that you’d add to this list!
- “Message of Love” by Pretenders
- “Perhaps Love” by John Denver
- “The Perfect Space” by the Avett Brothers
- “The Rose” by Bette Midler
- “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” by Randy Newman from Toy Story
I thank you for posting these songs. I wanted to choose a few songs that I and my Mother could dance or waltz with my nephew at his wedding that showed him and his future wife how much, as her (new) Aunt and Grandmother, how much we love them both. They’ve been together for 7 years, she’s a bit younger than he is and was getting her masters and then an internship and they had to do a long distance romance and then they were supposed to be married last year but due to the pandemic they had to cancel. Then you add to that the major estrangement created by his flaming narcissist of a mother who just won’t stop trying to manipulate him and run his life. As he put it, “I am a grown man and she tried to break us up when C****** and I started to get close and again after we had been together over a year. We loved each other and nothing and no one is going to change that” His flaming narcissist of a mother has spoken about C****** in negative ways and we live in a small state and you can’t throw a stick without hitting a family friend or relation, so all of these insults kept getting back to her Mother whose family has embraced E*** and eventually got back to C******. His mother and even his father who is my eldest brother, never told my Mother or I that her grandson and my nephew was in love and all they told us were lies when he failed to show up for family gatherings. Even when we asked directly if he was seeing someone and perhaps that was who he was spending the holidays with they just shook their heads and said “you know E***, he is secretive about what’s going on in his life.” Then they informed us that he was buying a house, but what they failed to tell us was that it was in a different state. I tried to get E to tell me why he was moving out of state when he attended one of his cousins’ wedding on our side of the family; and I pulled him aside and he just held back. He seemed to find it easier to talk about the house and the raise in pay so I let him do that but I was frustrated that he wouldn’t talk openly to me even when I asked if he had any friends down there. When he was very young my Mother and I practically raised him and yet we didn’t have a clue as to why he was leaving the state. It broke our hearts and I texted him a few times after he moved and he responded but he was very guarded in his responses. I didn’t know his address so on holidays and his Birthday I made sure he knew that we loved him. It turns out that I discovered what was going on via Facebook. I was asked to be friends by a young woman whose name I did not recognize but as we shared E*** as a friend and we had the same politics and other interests I agreed. Then she sent me a message asking if I was E’s aunt and I said yes and over the following months and years we came to be the best of friends and I love her as dearly as I love him. She told me that E*** didn’t tell me because his mother had assured him that once we found out about his “new love” we would hate her as much as they did. He feared losing the love of the two women that he regarded as always having been there for him growing up and how those memories of having our love and support and then losing them would break him apart and he would never feel whole again. Over time I discovered that they are a perfect match, they support each other through thick and thin. Sadly, because of his mother’s machinations he has been ostracized by everyone in the family except for me and my Mother and we are the only members of a rather large group of family that are invited to attend the wedding. He fears, and rightly so, that his mother will cry and bewail the fact that she has missed so much time with her son and it is his wife that caused the split. We all know that she will cause a scene and he wants his wedding to be a happy and joyous occasion so as time has passed and the wedding grows ever closer (she doesn’t know when and where just that it is a fall wedding) she’s getting desperate and most recently manipulated the last cousin that he was close to, and even his younger brother to make him feel guilty for cutting ties with his parents. Her family can’t see that she is toxic and when they fail to move him emotionally they stop communicating so none of the group will attend the wedding. His Mother even roped in the last of his cousins who still spoke to him mentioned above) and convinced this poor you man, just weeks after his father’s death, to call E and tell him he would regret cutting ties with his family when either one of his parents died. Needless to say it is a delicate situation and I wanted a few songs that my Mother (she is 89) and I could dance or waltz with him that was about love and support. This list was a great help and I thank you for posting this.
Great selection! I was so excited to see the Steven Universe song especially. I’ve been wondering how to give that show the musical recognition it deserves in my groups without my patients just thinking I’m a massive cartoon nerd. XD
Thanks Elizabeth! Steven Universe has so many awesome songs that would be great in music therapy sessions! I’ve used “Here Comes a Thought” for lyric analyses before and it’s gone great.