Justin Timberlake - Cry Me a River - 2002

Justin Timberlake - Cry Me a River - 2002

Cry Me a River is a song by American singer Justin Timberlake from his debut solo album, Justified (2002). Not only did the song receive widespread critical acclaim, but it also won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2004. The song's lyrics are famously interpreted as being about Timberlake's break-up with Britney Spears, although Timberlake has been somewhat ambiguous about the song's true inspiration.

Background and Composition

  1. Cry Me a River was written by Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Scott Storch, and produced by Timbaland. The song's distinctive sound features a mix of R&B with electronic influences and a haunting, echoing background.
  2. The song's music video, directed by Francis Lawrence, further fueled speculation about its inspiration, featuring a Britney Spears look-alike and a narrative of betrayal and revenge.

Reception and Legacy

  1. Upon its release, Cry Me a River was a commercial success, charting in the top 10 in multiple countries and becoming one of Timberlake's signature songs.
  2. The song and its video are considered pivotal in Timberlake's career, helping to establish him as a solo artist separate from his NSYNC roots.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

In what year did Justin Timberlake release "Cry Me a River"? (2002) (!2000) (!2003) (!2001)

Which producer collaborated with Justin Timberlake on "Cry Me a River"? (Timbaland) (!Pharrell Williams) (!Max Martin) (!Rick Rubin)

What award did "Cry Me a River" win at the Grammy Awards? (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance) (!Record of the Year) (!Best Music Video) (!Song of the Year)

Who is believed to be the inspiration behind "Cry Me a River"? (Britney Spears) (!Janet Jackson) (!Alicia Keys) (!Cameron Diaz)

What is distinctive about the music video of "Cry Me a River"? (It features a Britney Spears look-alike) (!It was shot in black and white) (!Justin Timberlake does not appear in the video) (!It was filmed in Paris)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Which boy band was Justin Timberlake a member of before his solo career? (NSYNC) (!Backstreet Boys) (!98 Degrees) (!Boyz II Men)

For which album did "Cry Me a River" serve as a single? (Justified) (!FutureSex/LoveSounds) (!The 20/20 Experience) (!Man of the Woods)

How many Grammy Awards has Justin Timberlake won as of 2023? (Use browser to find current number) (!Less than 5) (!Between 5 and 10) (!More than 15)

In what year did Justin Timberlake begin his solo music career? (2002) (!1998) (!2000) (!2004)

Which song marked Justin Timberlake's debut as a solo artist? (Like I Love You) (!SexyBack) (!Mirrors) (!Can't Stop the Feeling!)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

Which line follows "You told me you loved me, why did you leave me"? (All alone) (!Tell me baby) (!On my own) (!Now you tell me you need me)

How does the chorus of "Cry Me a River" begin? (Cry me a river) (!Gonna make you sad) (!You say you're sorry) (!You were my sun)

What theme dominates the lyrics of "Cry Me a River"? (Betrayal and heartbreak) (!Joy and celebration) (!Independence and freedom) (!Desire and longing)

Which emotion is primarily conveyed through "Cry Me a River"? (Sadness and anger) (!Happiness and contentment) (!Surprise and shock) (!Fear and dread)

In "Cry Me a River," what does Justin Timberlake use as a metaphor for his tears? (The river) (!The rain) (!The ocean) (!The storm)


Justin Timberlake Justified
Timbaland Producer
Britney Spears Inspiration
2002 Release Year
Grammy Award Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

Open Tasks


  1. Explore the Music Video: Watch the "Cry Me a River" music video and describe its narrative and visual style.
  2. Investigate the Breakup: Research and write a short essay on the impact of celebrity relationships in the media, using Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears as a case study.
  3. Song Analysis: Analyze the lyrical themes of "Cry Me a River" and discuss how they relate to the concept of heartbreak.


  1. Cover Version: Record your own cover of "Cry Me a River," focusing on expressing the emotion in the song through your performance.
  2. Compare and Contrast: Write an essay comparing "Cry Me a River" to another song that deals with heartbreak, focusing on lyrical content, musical style, and emotional impact.
  3. Music Video Reimagining: Create a storyboard for a new music video for "Cry Me a River" that offers a different perspective on the song's themes.


  1. Timbaland's Production Techniques: Research and present on the production techniques used by Timbaland in "Cry Me a River," including how they contribute to the song's emotional depth.
  2. The Role of Music Videos: Analyze the role of music videos in artist branding, using "Cry Me a River" as a case study.
  3. Justin Timberlake's Career Evolution: Write a detailed analysis of Justin Timberlake's evolution as an artist from his NSYNC days to his solo career, highlighting key songs and moments.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discuss the impact of celebrity relationships on public perception and media: How do personal stories like that of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears influence the reception of music and music videos?
  2. Analyze the transition from boy band member to solo artist: What challenges and opportunities does an artist face when transitioning from a group to a solo career, using Justin Timberlake as an example?
  3. Explore the role of producers in shaping the sound of pop music: Discuss how producers like Timbaland have influenced the sound of pop music, with examples from "Cry Me a River."
  4. Examine the evolution of music videos: How have music videos evolved over time, and what role do they play in the marketing and reception of songs today?
  5. Investigate the significance of awards in an artist's career: How do awards like the Grammy influence an artist's career, reputation, and influence in the music industry?

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