The song was introduced in the original Broadway production by Dorothy Sarnoff in the role of Lady Thiang, the King's head wife. In the 1956 film adaptation "Something Wonderful" was sung by Terry Saunders in the role of Lady Thiang: Saunders had understudied Sarnoff in the Broadway production and in 1952 had taken over the role when Sarnoff departed the production.
"Something Wonderful" is sung by Lady Thiang to Anna Leonowens to persuade her to accept the King for what he is, despite his faults. In a sense, these lyrics have echoes of the song "What's the Use of Wond'rin'" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, which also deals with the issue of women standing by their husbands despite all their faults. Musically, the heavy chords that punctuate the accompaniment bear some pre-echoes of the song "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from The Sound of Music. This is notable because both these songs are inspirational songs sung by the earth-mother characters, who have similar singing voices. Both songs are also the last songs heard in their respective shows, even though "Something Wonderful" is played as an instrumental rendition to underscore the final scene of the King at his deathbed. In the film version of The King and I an unseen chorus sings the final verse of "Something Wonderful" as the film concludes.
Carmen McRae recorded "Something Wonderful" as the title cut for a 1962 album release which featured show tunes mostly abbreviated versions in medleys: McRae's medley of The King and I numbers begins with snippets from "Getting to Know You" and "Hello Young Lovers", then concludes with the main section of "Something Wonderful" sung in full.