“Cry Me a River” by Julie London

Oddly enough, when Dave Barry published his famous compendium of bad songs, he equated Julie London with people like William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy as actors who dabbled disastrously in singing, apparently completely unaware of her large and distinguished body of work as a singer. Granted, a work like Barry’s can’t be expected to entail large amounts of research (he’s a comedian, not a critic, after all), but I’m genuinely surprised he didn’t already know about her singing career on the basis of this song alone. This is the prototypical ‘kiss-off single’, and forms the basis for every angry breakup song that came after it, from “I Will Survive” to “You Oughta Know” to “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”; some of the most popular acts in modern music, including Beyonce, Pink and Kelly Clarkson, owe their careers to the trail this song blazed. And London’s very background as an actress is why this still remains arguably the definitive rendition of this song in spite of all the interpretations it’s received, a potent combination of withering sarcasm and deep-seated anger.

Verdict: Good, and it proves (in case it needed proving to anyone) that Julie London is a phenomenal singer.

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