The song was sung to Ginger Rogers as Penelope "Penny" Carroll by Astaire in character as John "Lucky" Garnett, while Penny was busy washing her hair in an adjacent room, and feeling anything but beautiful at the time. The song was written by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, and has become a standard. Fields later remarked, "The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn't stop, it was so beautiful."
In 2004, the song was recorded by Westlife in two versions on their album, Allow Us to Be Frank. During 2012, UK-based indie band Tellison released a cover of The Way You Look Tonight on NaimEdge Records, as a B-Side to their single Freud Links The Teeth And The Heart. In 2013, the renowned Spanish actress & singer Natalia Dicenta released a version of the song on her album Colours.
The song has become a jazz instrumental standard, inspiring numerous interpretations by a variety of jazz artists. Jazz pianist Art Tatum has an instrumental recording which appears on the 1990 collection The Complete Pablo Solo Masterpieces. Oscar Peterson also recorded a version on his 1959 album, Oscar Peterson Plays the Jerome Kern Songbook. Saxophonist Johnny Griffin covered this song in the hard bop jazz style on his 1957 A Blowing Session album. Pianist Bradley Joseph performs his arrangement of "The Way You Look Tonight" on his 2006 album Piano Love Songs. In 2008, contemporary jazz guitarist, Thom Rotella, covered the song on his album, Out of the Blues.