Cry Me A River

Album: Justified (2002)
Charted: 2 3


  • Justin wrote this song about Britney Spears. In the song, the relationship goes bad because the girl cheated, and to get even, the boy makes sure that the girl finds out he's moved on with his life. The girl gets upset, and "cries a river" because she screwed up and lost the boy forever.

    The track was written and recorded following a heated phone conversation between Timberlake and Spears. During a E! True Hollywood Story special about Timbaland, the producer explained, "He went to a concert and saw Britney, and Britney talked about him in the show and he was pissed."

    Timberlake added, "I was on a phone call that was not the most enjoyable phone call. I walked into the studio and he (Timbaland) could tell I was visibly angry." The singer then poured out his furious feelings in the song.
  • Timberlake and Spears were in Disney's Mickey Mouse Club together when they were younger. They dated for 2 1/2 years before breaking up in 2002. Justin claimed she cheated on him with her choreographer, Wade Robson. In 2003, Britney said that Justin was the only guy she ever had sex with, and she did it because she thought they would get married someday. She described their breakup as the most painful thing she's ever experienced.
  • In the video, Timberlake uses a video camera to tape him getting hot and heavy with another girl. When his girlfriend (who is played by an actress that looks very much like Britney Spears) comes in, he sets it up so she will see the tape. The video leaves little doubt that it is a message to Spears.
    The Britney look-a-like was played by actress Lauren Hastings. She recalled to Q magazine June 2009: "I went for a casting and they asked if I'd be comfortable 'making out' with Justin. I said Yes! I had a huge crush on him and once dated a guy just because he looked like him." She added: "The video was shot over three days in Malibu, next to Cher's house. I was so nervous when I got to finally meet Justin and he told me he'd handpicked me because I looked like Britney. Of course I found him attractive, but I was professional and didn't tell him and treated it like any other job." Hastings concluded: "It led to a recurring role in TV drama The O'Keefes along with a Maroon 5 video and commercials for Tampax, Nike and a deodorant campaign with Ben Affleck. There have been no downsides to it."
  • After breaking up with Britney, Justin was rumored to date Alyssa Milano and Janet Jackson.
  • Another song called "Cry Me A River" is a standard written by Arthur Hamilton. It is best known as sung by sultry chanteuse Julie London in the 1956 rock 'n' roll movie The Girl Can't Help It. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Michael - Brussels, Belgium
  • Justin wrote this with Timbaland, who also helped produce it. That's Timbaland doing the rap in the middle.
  • Scott Storch, who was working with Timbaland, played piano on this track. Storch claims he was not given proper credit for his contributions on this song and should have been listed as a co-producer.
  • This won for Best Male Video at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Accepting the award, Timberlake said it was a "travesty" that Johnny Cash didn't win for his video "Hurt." Timberlake said he grew up listening to Johnny Cash and that he deserved the award.
  • At the 2004 Grammys, this won the award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Exactly one week before the ceremony, Justin exposed Janet Jackson's breast on the Super Bowl halftime show, creating an uproar and big problems for CBS, who was also broadcasting the Grammys. As a result, CBS made Justin apologize during his acceptance speech. "I know it's been a rough week on everybody," he said in his speech after deftly thanking his mother (who was also his date) and winning over the crowd with his humility. "What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended," he continued.

    Later in the ceremony, Justified won for Best Pop Vocal Album. Timberlake recovered quite well from the Super Bowl incident, becoming a far bigger star in the ensuing years. Janet Jackson, who was originally slated to perform at the ceremony, didn't attend.
  • This song suited another heartbroken Justin, as on November 10, 2012, Justin Bieber performed a slow, acoustic version of the song at a concert in Boston following his breakup with Selena Gomez.
    Selena reciprocated a couple of months later with her own acoustic version at UNICEF's New York charity concert.

Comments: 28

  • Sean from Austin, TxThe name of the hot, slinky brunette is Kiana Bessa.
  • Aria from Davie, FlAlright, for all you who lack knowledge (either due to your age or unwillingness to be "enlightened" by anyone who disagrees with you,) here are some facts: Musicians, not unlike poets, pour out their experiences on paper by way of lyrics. So, to say that J.T. or any other artist is immature for writing this song is to say that ALL poets, musicians and writers are immature as well. For DECADES, song writers have expressed their sentiments (pain, joy, love) via lyrics or poetry. Just to name a FEW...Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, Eminem, Elton John, Sting, Bono, John Lennon, etc. I could go on and on (the benefits of an education in pop-culture history) Would anyone label these artists losers or immature? I think not. People, the reason music touches us SO deeply is because it resonates with us at a certain time in our life or during a certain event. They express through music what we, who are not blessed with the gift of songwriting, feel and would put into words if we could. You can HATE the artist and still appreciate the talent. There is a distinct difference between an artist who sings a song written for them (I'm not saying that's a bad thing) and one who writes a song based on what he or she has experienced. I'm not choosing sides here but the best example would be the two artist who are referenced in this post. Brit's "Oops, I did it again" is a cute song, I'm not doggin' it but compared to "Cry Me a River" it doesn't measure up. Why? One was "produced" for the artist, the other was written by the artist based on what he actually FELT. The BEST advice I was ever given by my music history teacher was this: "Worship the music, not the musician!" This is not to say that you can't do both BUT, to dismiss a song based on your hatred of the artist is to limit yourself and miss out on some cool grooves! Peace
  • Elizabeth from Mobile, AlGlen Hansard does an amazing version of this song. I would even venture to say I like that version better.
  • Landon from Winchester, OhSucks for you, Brittany! Doesn't it? First, you lost the man of your dreams. Second, there's a song about you topping the charts. Third, you can't even sing your own songs anymore from all the drugs. Isn't it hard to be a celebrity?
  • Se7 from Pomona, Cahmmm.. Well, yes "rappers do rip off song titles... but "roccers" ripped off rocc... so.. *shrugs* what can you do... only rocc n roll artists do the EXACT same song and call it covers or tributes.. we at lease only steal the title... oh yeah, this is neither contemporary or pop... its R&B... your white so you probably cant find the R and the heart ache of the song makes up the B... get it right dips#!+. and YES this is repetitive but like the guy said, break ups are that way and lest we forget, when you want your child to get the message, what do you do?... if your the same peopel who are saying "rap is ruining or nation cuz rappers are bad role models" then you probably say it once and then go off to leave your tv to raise your kids... oh.. and i dont like justin or brit
  • Jessica from Broken Arrow, OkI really like this song also. If you havent heard the remix with 50 cent, then you need to listen to it, its freaking awesome. 50 also says "Brittany" some where in the song. LMAO
  • Bruiser from Murfreesboro, TnI like Joe Cocker's "Cry Me A River" better.
  • Destini from Evansville, Incould in just say to grachen that if she loves him so much try spelling his name right. anyway, i'd also like to confirm that Justin and Alyssa DID date the only rumor is that he was with Janet Jackson. all Justin Timberlake fans please come and join my site coming up soon-- me!
  • Maryjoy from Manila, IsraelI think that this song is well written. I love the makes sense. When I first heard this song, I was amazed...i kept on listening to it. I love the tune and the organization of the song!! Justin, God bless you... keep on doing good...
  • Tom from Dosen't Matter, CtShaved his head and left *Nsync...A shade less masculine then Pink :-)
  • Jolene from Melbourne, AustraliaProbably Justin's best lyrics so far and much deeper than his other stuff which is understandable given it was about the biggest drama in his life.
  • Eric from New York, NyI think Justin is one of the uprising stars en' he proved that by coming out with "Cry me a River" which rocks like something else. Go Justin my boy.
  • Elson from Los Angeles, CaI know a lot of alternative/punk/garage bands that like to cover this song in their shows, not just for kicks, but the chord progression can lend itself to that kind of music easily.
  • Fredric from Melbourne, AustraliaThis song is quite deep. It strikes a chord in people who have been through something similar. I usually listen to alternative, light rock, some pop, but never J.T. This song though made alot of sense. To anyone that has been through something like a breakup like this, IT'S REPETATIVE! You are always thinking the same stupid thing over and over again, when someone means so much to you, and the things that happened 'keep messing with your head'. Why ask for someone back when the damage is already done?

    Don't it make you sad about it? - I love this line. You feel like it is such a waste. The time you spent was just a waste.

    I think the rap at the start and the finish is brilliant. Opens the story, and closes it with the pain in the middle.

    You can't write something like that without experiencing it. Who ever wrote it (If J.T. did write it, well done mate) they must have experienced something.

    Just remember guys/girls. We know the sour, it helps us to appreciate the sweet.
  • Elly from Melbourne, AustraliaI love Justin Timberlake. He is sooo talented and HOT!! I love all his song's sooo much and am completely obsessed. This Song in paticular is great cuz it caused such a stir. Its rocks my world!!!
  • Grechen from Mobile, AlI love this song with my heart.After me and my boyfriend broke up I would listen to it all the time.I told him about the song and said he had never heard of it.I let him borrow the cd and after listening to it he cried about it.He told the next day he was sorry about hurting me.Two days later we go back together.The song was not only a fav. song of mine but the reason why we're dating.JUSTINE TIMBERLAKE LOOKS EXTRA FINE IN THAT VIDEO.WHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
  • Audrey from Los Angeles,ca, United StatesI actually agree with that. Justin seems really repeatetive with the chorus and the song is really pathetic. No matter what happened between he and britney you shouldn't mock anyone in creativity. He doesn't know an ounce of that if it bit him in his arse. He's a retard. A hot retard. But dummy reguardless. Also, Pharrell and Chad prevented the white boy sound aka nsync part 2 from leaking through. That didn't hurt his arse neither. They made his album sound minutly tolerable. God I am so sick of his nasil voice! Even though JC's album didnt do as well as JTs, I'd still pick JC over Justin any day. JC can really sing, Justin struggles. That's not singing. Madonna does that too.
  • Shay from Key West, FlI wish people could here songs about actually issues...and that those would win grammys...I think this song doesn't have a whole lot of talent to be grammy worthy. He says cry me a river about 30 times in a row. Thats not very creative. Bands that write the song,lyrics, and then play them with their instruments to me are true artists.
  • Jo from Newcastle, AustraliaNot defending either one of 'em (they're both silly in my opinion) But the way I heard it, Wade Robson is an Aussie who allegedly likes other
  • Shawna from San Diego, CaAll I've got to say is "Go Justin!" She is trash who will never be happy with what she got from sheer luck. I'm not in love with you, just proud of you. In my eyes, she was always selfish and not good enough for you because she hasn't a hint of humbleness. You are a down to earth person who deserves better.
  • Tiffany from Dover, FlOne of my uncles can sing this song in falsetto and bug me with it!
  • Britney from Calabasas, CaIn my opinion, I think Justin is very gutsy to write this kind of song (serious or not). The beat is off the hook and the lyrics are hilarious. Justin rocks! He's very talented in that. The fact that you beat down a silly song that was indeed, supposed to follow a silly connotation is jus kind of well... futle. Just like an Eminem song (who I have tremenddous respect for as an artist), everyone is thinking very ambiguously. All and all, its jus a cool song. So chill. I hope Justin's music will be around for a while. :)
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaUgh. First of all, this was incredibly childish. Justin thought Britney was cheating on him; she denied it, and he mocked her with this video. And what was his justification for it? He thought she was cheating. Ooh.. how mature. (BTW, I'm not defending Britney, she's an idiot and her music sucks; but regardless of who this happened to, it was still stupid and juevenille.) Second of all, the music is some of the most grating noise I've ever heard. Sounds like someone remixing N'Sync while drunk/stoned. Finally, only rappers rip off song titles from others (eg: "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark, "Dig It" from the movie "Holes", etc) and surprise, surprise, this song has a rap in it! Wow! Contemporary pop AND rap! The single worst musical styles ever, all rolled into one! Ah, well. At least Justin admitted that "Hurt" blew this useless torture out of the water.
  • Holly from Newcastle, EnglandThis is definatly Justin's best song. He is so fit in the video, but there is no change 'cause he's always looking fit!
  • Myles from Belfast, IrelandI think that it is a wicked song for a male performer and that he burns Britney Spears in the song and its funny...good for you Justin!
  • Audrey from La, CaJustin will definitely go far in his solo career he is very talented and he can write his music. Go Justin, you rock dude! :-)
  • Stacey from Bradford, EnglandThe song Rocks So does Justin I love you Justin
  • Virnalisa from Santo Domingo, OtherThis song isn't that bad but the only thing that i don't like about it is that it repeats the same thing over and over again .It's the kind of song that really gets u tired of it quickly.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jon Anderson of YesSongwriter Interviews

From the lake in "Roundabout" to Sister Bluebird in "Starship Trooper," Jon Anderson talks about how nature and spirituality play into his lyrics for Yes.

Julian LennonSongwriter Interviews

Julian tells the stories behind his hits "Valotte" and "Too Late for Goodbyes," and fills us in on his many non-musical pursuits. Also: what MTV meant to his career.

Curt Kirkwood of Meat PuppetsSongwriter Interviews

The (Meat)puppetmaster takes us through songs like "Lake Of Fire" and "Backwater," and talks about performing with Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

David Bowie Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

How well do you know your David Bowie lyrics? Take this quiz to find out.

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.