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Justin Timberlake Says He Wrote ‘Cry Me A River’ In 2 Hours Following Split From Britney Spears

We all know Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River”—arguably one of the best breakup tracks of the early 2000s. Its cultural impact is undeniable: it was the song that Liam Payne auditioned with on the X-Factor in 2010 (so, if you squint, it’s indirectly responsible for the creation of One Direction), and it inspires such great nostalgia that Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig even wrote Timberlake a letter to get the song in her Oscar-nominated film. So how long does it take to create such a soulful musical masterpiece? According to Timberlake himself, only two hours.

Timberlake released his first book, Hindsight: & All the Things I Can’t See in Front of Me, on Tuesday, and the autobiography included some little-known details about Timberlake’s life and career. Though PEOPLE reports that Timberlake never actually mentions ex-girlfriend Britney Spears—the inspiration behind the song—by name, he does divulge that “Cry Me A River” came to him almost instantly.



Timberlake writes, “I’ve been scorned. I’ve been pissed off. I wrote ‘Cry Me A River’ in two hours. I didn’t plan on writing it.”

Honestly, the song is so full of passion that it’s not surprising JT was swayed by his emotions to create such a powerful track. He was very clearly torn up about his breakup with Spears, writing, “The feelings I had were so strong that I had to write it, and I translated my feelings into a form where people could listen and, hopefully, relate to it,” Timberlake continues. “People heard me and they understood it because we’ve all been there.”

His heartbreak, however, seems to be all in the past, since he’s happily married to Jessica Biel. But whether or not writing “Cry Me A River” was part of the plan for Timberlake, we’re so glad he did it.

Erica Kam

Columbia Barnard '21

Erica is an Associate Editor at Her Campus. She was formerly the Contributing Editor (2020-21), Wellness Editor (2019-20), High School Editor (2018-19), and an Editorial Intern (2018). She graduated from Barnard College in 2021 with a degree in English and creative writing, and was the Senior Editor of Her Campus Columbia Barnard (2018-20). When she's not writing or editing (which is rare), she's probably looking at food pictures on Instagram.
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