When your relationship is affected by cheating, it can be a messy, confusing and often deeply sad period in your life. The one silver lining is that you’ve got some fantastic songs keeping you company.
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Many musicians have written about cheating, particularly in the world of R&B, where songwriters aren’t afraid to tap into deep and complex emotions. Whether you’re crying into your ice cream, you’re out for revenge, or you’re even the one being unfaithful, there’s a song out there for you.
The competition was stiff, but in this list we’ve compiled 10 of the best songs about cheating, so that you can get all your feelings out.
There’s many an anthem for a betrayed woman out there, but “Before He Cheats” is undoubtedly one of the best, and also one of the angriest. Underwood is past the point of crying and is instead out for revenge on everything her cheating partner holds dear – specifically his car. The restrained, slightly threatening verses give way to a furious and incredibly satisfying chorus as Underwood details exactly what she does to his ‘pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive’.
In the 00s reggae track, a man asks advice from his friend after his girlfriend caught him cheating with the girl next door. The man’s friend insists that despite all the evidence against him, he should stubbornly deny everything. The song ends with the man realising that he needs to apologise to his girlfriend, as his friend’s advice ‘makes no sense at all’.
“It Wasn’t Me” was actually never meant to be a single, but after Hawaiian DJ Pablo Sato downloaded Shaggy’s album ‘Hot Shot’ online he was so taken with the track that he played it on the radio the next day. The song received instant attention and went on to be the best-selling single of 2001 in the UK.
Part country, part pop, part rock and all fury, “Should’ve Said No” describes the aftermath of a teenage relationship gone wrong. Swift, who was just sixteen years old when the song was written, addresses her high school boyfriend directly after discovering that he was with another girl and explains exactly where he went wrong.
The track was a last-minute addition to Swift’s self-titled debut album – she wrote the song just two days before the mastering was scheduled and worked on it overnight with her producer.
Another scorned woman taking revenge on her cheating boyfriend’s vehicle, but whilst Carrie Underwood is all anger, Sullivan is vulnerable, emotional, and still hurting when the job is done. ‘And no it didn’t mend my broken heart’, she sings after confessing to the damage. ‘Oh, but why am I still crying?’ she asks towards the end of the track. It turns out that smashing up a cheater’s property might make you feel better in the moment, but it doesn’t stop the revenge fantasy from ringing a little hollow once all the windows are busted.
Winehouse tells the story of a woman who repeatedly cheats on her partner. Despite feeling terrible about it, she doesn’t feel she can stop, and resents herself for hurting her partner who continues to stay with her anyway.
The song comes from Winehouse’s Grammy-winning album Back To Black and was praised by critics for its ability to make the cheater a sympathetic figure.
Back in 2016, ‘Becky with the good hair’ became the most famous other woman on the planet when she was mentioned in this track from Lemonade. The album deals with the fallout of unfaithfulness in a marriage, and “Sorry” is the most unapologetic track of them all, in which Beyoncé shrugs off her cheating spouse and decides to go out an have a good time. Despite the ‘don’t care’ attitude, however, the anger and hurt is always just below the surface.
This soul ballad from English singer-songwriter Sam Smith leaves sass and anger behind to get all the grief out at the piano. With a gospel-inspired melody and straightforward, honest lyrics, Smith presents an emotional picture of a partner who figures out that they’re being cheated on and doesn’t know what to do with the realisation.
The song wasn’t inspired by Smith’s own experiences, but by the marriage of someone they knew. Smith maintains that the song doesn’t just criticise the partner that cheats, but also the partner that stays despite knowing that they’re being cheated on.
Like Amy, Rihanna just can’t seem to stop herself from being unfaithful to her partner. In this R&B ballad, she laments the fact that she keeps on hurting a man she loves and weighs up whether or not to leave him.
Rihanna wrote the track several co-writers including Ne-Yo, who she had wanted to work with for some time. Although a ballad was, at the time, new territory for her, she liked the fact that the song did something different – namely that it explored a cheating girlfriend rather than a cheating man.
The call and response R&B ballad puts Nelly and Kelly in the roles of two lovers who want but can’t have each other. The problem is that the woman has a husband and son and is reluctant to break up to her family. Nelly maintains that he’ll wait until she decides to leave her current relationship, but respects that it’s a difficult decision to make.
The track gives us a slightly different perspective on cheating by capturing the relationship between the cheater and the man she’s cheating with. In “Dilemma” we are made to understand that the woman isn’t necessarily a bad person for cheating – she’s just unhappy and doesn’t know how to walk away.
In “Confessions” Usher admits to cheating with his ex-girlfriend and lying to his new girlfriend. In “Confessions Part II” things get worse – just when he thought he’d owned up to all his wrongdoings, he discovers that his ‘chick on the side’ is three months pregnant and wants to keep the baby.
This is pretty much any cheaters worst scenario and Usher is all kinds of contrite as he spills his secrets. His panic and confusion are evident, however Usher has since clarified that the man in the song is just a character and not Usher himself.
Cheating is never straightforward, and these 10 songs capture many different sides of the issue. However, what they do show us is that communication is always the answer. If you’ve discovered that your partner has some secrets, it’s healthy to get your feelings out. And if you’re the one cheating, make like Usher and confess – and whatever you do, don’t take Shaggy’s advice.