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Intro

In a Nutshell: 

You know what they say about young love?* It’s all fun and games until someone gets cheated on. After that, it’s just “Cry Me A River” on repeat. Thanks, JT.

*NOTE: “They” don’t actually say that. But we’re saying it now. Read on if you care about not getting duped.

About the Song

ArtistJustin Timberlake Musician(s)Justin Timberlake (vocals), Timbaland and Scott Storch (backup vocals), Bill Pettaway, Bernard Kenny (guitar); Charles Veal, Southwest Chamber Orchestra (strings); Damen Bennett (flute); Scott Storch (Clavinet); Omar Edwards (keyboards); George "Spanky" McCurdy (drums); Vidal Davis (percussion).
AlbumJustified
Year2002
LabelJive
Writer(s)Justin Timberlake, Tim Mosley, Scott Storch
Producer(s)Timbaland, Scott Storch
Learn to play: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/j/justin_timberlake/cry_me_a_river_tab.htm
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Cheating and revenge are such gloriously, depressingly enduring themes in American music and literature that we’re not even sure where to start. Actually, forget American music and literature; it’s a global theme, as human as life, death, and taxes. Think about Homer (in The Odyssey, unfaithful sexual relationships are relatively commonplace), or perhaps Shakespeare (where to start about cheating in Shakespeare?). Shmoopers, we could watch a long line of cheating narratives unfold throughout history, all the way up to such classics as The Great Gatsby or more recently, New Moon. (We admit it’s probably premature—or sacrilegious—to call New Moon a “classic,” but we know for sure that it’s a bestseller. Do what you will with that.) Music is often nothing more than pretty-sounding storytelling, and the grand tradition of firing off a parting shot to a cheating lover is strong with singers as diverse as Hank Williams and Destiny’s Child.

Admittedly, Justin Timberlake’s situation in “Cry Me A River” is something of a special case. After all, the woman who supposedly cheated on him was one of the most famous women in America, so they were constantly staring out at Americans from grocery store magazine stacks. Both Justin and ex-girlfriend Britney Spears —you really didn’t know? how old are you?—have gone back and forth dozens of times, playing up their relationship by playing down their relationship, drawing attention to themselves and their infamous past again and again after supposed episodes of lashing out—and then denying that their songs and videos have anything to do with each other. What has all this cat fighting gotten them? Fame, fame, money, and more fame.

As Jay-Z once said, “Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t.” Sounds about right to us.

On the Charts

“Cry Me A River” debuted at #2 on the UK Singles Chart and peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Justified spent 72 weeks on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, peaking at #2.

Rolling Stone included “Cry Me A River” on its 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at #484.

“Cry Me A River” won the 2004 Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance; Justified took home the prize for Best Pop Vocal Album.
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