A jazzy blues ballad, "Cry Me a River" was originally written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the 1920s-set film, Pete Kelly's Blues (released 1955), but the song was dropped. Fitzgerald first released a recording of the song on Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! in 1961. The song was also offered to Peggy King, but Columbia Records A&R chief Mitch Miller objected to the word "plebian" in the lyric and its first release was by actress/singer Julie London on Liberty Records in 1955, backed by Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Leatherwood on bass. A performance of the song by London in the 1956 filmThe Girl Can't Help It helped to make it a bestseller (reaching nr. 9 on US and nr. 22 on UK charts). London's recording was later featured in the soundtracks for the movies Passion of Mind (2000), and V for Vendetta (2005).
Subsequent covers include a version by Barbra Streisand on her 1963 debut album as the opening track of Side 1. In 1970, British rocker Joe Cocker made the chart with an upbeat rock rendition on the album, Mad Dogs and Englishmen. In 1995, British actress Denise Welch's double A-side "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" / "Cry Me a River" spent three weeks in the UK Singles Chart, reaching #23. Canadian jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall recorded the song on her 2001 album, The Look of Love. In 2009, Canadian singer Michael Bublé entered the charts with a big-band jazz version, which is also the opening track of his fourth album Crazy Love. This adaption of the song was used in the BBC's advertising for, and theme music for coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.