The fifth single from Alicia Keys' Girl on Fire album was penned by the singer with Bruno Mars and his Smeezingtons partner Phillip Lawrence. The sad ballad was produced by Keys and Jeff Bhasker and digitally released on May 7, 2013, through the iTunes Store. Keys officially debuted the single during her performance on American Idol on May 9, 2013.
The song finds Keys nursing a broken heart. She explained its meaning to MTV News: "'Tears Always Win' is really about a relationship that's over and you're remembering all the times that it was there," she said. "You're remembering all the ways they filled your space and now that it's not there. You're telling yourself you don't need them, but you're missing them and you're crying about it."
The song's music video was shot in Las Vegas. "It's a girl and her working two jobs and she's got all these things going on," Keys explained to MTV News. "But the whole time, she's totally distracted because she's only thinking about how she feels [about her ex], almost at the point [where] you're thinking about the person, but you're also thinking about, kind of, your loneliness and how you feel. How're you gonna get through it? The video is totally beautiful, really unexpected. It has some Vegas pieces in it. I think the way it goes on, it really brings a relevance to the words and you'll really feel it. I'm loving it."