The song is also known for its use in numerous TV programmes and movies, notably as the theme song of the medical television seriesHouse. The instrumental portions of the song at the beginning and the end, featuring a bass drum beat reminiscent of a heartbeat, are used in the opening theme.
"Teardrop" was first developed from a simple harpsichord riff picked out in the studio in April 1997. Vowles sent the demo to Madonna as he wanted her to record the vocals for the song (the band had previously worked with her on their 1995 reworking of the song "I Want You"). The two other band members Robert Del Naja and Grantley Marshall wanted Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins to record the vocals, feeling her ethereal style suited the mournful melody and feel of the piece. Madonna was very keen to record the vocals, and was disappointed when the two-to-one vote went in Fraser's favour.
Fraser wrote the song's lyrics and was recording the song when she got the news of the death by drowning on 29 May 1997 of her once-close friend, Jeff Buckley. "That was so weird ... I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him – that's how it feels to me anyway."
The 12" release contains the same songs but in a different order. The cassette release contains an edited version of the original song, as well as the Scream Team remix and the B-side "Euro Zero Zero", but is missing the remix by Mad Professor.
José González covered "Teardrop" in his second album In Our Nature. The single was released across Europe on 12 November 2007. The single features the non-album instrumental B-side "Four Forks Ache." This version was also featured in the medical drama House M.D. in the episode "Wilson's Heart".
Civil Twilight covered "Teardrop" on their 13 April 2010 release "Live from SoHo", an iTunes-only release. The band, signed to Wind-Up Records, released the studio version of the song as a single on 10 August 2010.
Celtic rock band Red Hot Chilli Pipers covered the song at the end of their album "Blast" in 2008, a live performance at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. The performance of this piece is instrumental based chiefly on Scottish smallpipes and Highland bagpipes and is merged with a reel titled "Brenda Stubberts".
The song was also covered by Scottish rock band Simple Minds and is found on their cover album Searching For The Lost Boy. This album was only released as the bonus second album in the 2-CD Deluxe Edition of their 15th studio album entitled Graffiti Soul, released on 25 May 2009.