The Most Achy-Breaky Songs About Cheating

The pop music industry is sustained by matters of the heart. Blooming love, failed love, unrequited love — there's a song for every shade of romantic feeling. Naturally there are also songs that explore the many facets of cheating. There are guilt-ridden, exhilarated songs sung by the cheaters themselves. There are anthems from the betrayed, hell-bent on revenge. Other tracks are dripping with empathy.

Songs about falling in love and experiencing intense betrayal deal in many of the same emotions, caused by a specific cocktail of endorphins and adrenaline. But since each incidence of cheating is unique, so too are the emotions that propel each song.

To paraphrase Anna Karenina: Happy relationships are all alike; every unhappy relationship is happy in its own way. Enjoy these songs, each tortured in its own way.

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"Wake Up Call" by Maroon 5

"Wake up call / Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed'

This Maroon 5 song is as dark as it is catchy — that is to say, very. Adam Levine sings from the perspective of a man who catches his girlfriend cheating, and then shoots her lover dead. Woof!
"Don't Bother" by Shakira

Don't bother / I'll be fine / But she's waiting / The ring you gave to her will lose its shine

Shakira's actually the other woman in this song. She's bitter and sad that her man has just proposed marriage to another woman. And she really likes this guy — enough so that she says "I'd give up all I own / and move to a communist country / if you came with me, of course."
"Cry Me a River" by Justin Timberlake

"You don't have to say what you did / I already know, I found out from him / Now there's just no chance / With you and me / There'll never be"

There's never been a catchier song about moral superiority.
"You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse

"I cheated myself / Like I knew I would / I told you I was trouble / You know that I'm no good"

Amy's upfront with her lover about her inability to stay faithful. Still, he clearly heeded forward without warning – and now she's saying, "I told you so," but in a very self-loathing way.
"Creep" by TLC

"I love my man with all honesty / But I know he's cheatin' on me"

You hate to see it.
"Jolene" by Dolly Parton

"I'm begging of you please don't take my man / Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene / Please don't take him just because you can"

In this classic country song, Parton attempts to defeat a romantic rival through kindness. She compliments Jolene on her flawless beauty, and in a rhetorical twist, says: Someone like you could have anyone — so why take my man? Good maneuvering, Dolly.
"Lips of an Angel" by Hinder

"Girl, you make it hard to be faithful / With the lips of an angel"

This cheesy product of the mid-2000s is sung from the perspective of a man barely staving off temptation for an ex. Has there ever been a more yearning phone conversation in music history?
"Messing Around" by Pitbull

"I'mma tell you straight up, I've been messin' around"

Not all songs about cheating are dripping with anguish. In this exceedingly catchy Pitbull song, the singer confronts his lover about her "messing around" with other people. Then, he admits he's been doing the same, and maybe they can have fun together. There are no hard feelings in this open relationship.
"Mr. Brightside" by the Killers

"Now they're going to bed / And my stomach is sick / And it's all in my head / But she's touching his chest"

The key to interpreting "Mr. Brightside" is in the line, "and it's all in my head." The entire song is a neurotic envisioning of his worst nightmare: his lover straying.
"Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood

"I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights / Slashed a hole in all 4 tires / Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats"

Being cheated on usually inspires bouts of weeping. But if you're Carrie Underwood in this song, it inspires elaborate revenge schemes. We don't condone destroying your ex's car, but boy, do we respect it.
"Heard It Through the Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye

"Not much longer would you be mine / Oh I heard it through the grapevine"

You can only pull a one-over on Marvin Gaye for so long. In this song, Gaye confronts a lover about her plans to leave him, which he "heard through the grapevine." Because before there was Twitter, there was the grapevine.
"Jealous" by Beyoncé

"I wish that you were me / So you could feel this feeling / I never broke one promise, / And I know when you're not honest"

In this achingly honest song, a woman is desperate for her lover to empathize with her feelings of jealousy. Turns out a taste of Lemonade was in Beyoncé's music way before 2016.
"Call Your Girlfriend" by Robyn

"Don't you tell her how I give you something that you never even knew you missed / Don't you even try and explain how it's so different when we kiss"

There's a musical perspective for every facet of the cheating triangle. "Call Your Girlfriend" brings us the voice of the other woman. She tells her lover how to end his other relationship with kindness.
"Unfaithful" by Rihanna

"And I know that he knows I'm unfaithful / And it kills him inside / To know that I am happy with some other guy / I can see him dying"

As the cheater in the relationship, RiRi's wading through some murky territory in this song. On the one hand, she's happily in love with a new man. But she's torn up with guilt for the person she betrayed.
"Pale Blue Eyes" by the Velvet Underground

"It was good what we did yesterday / And I'd do it once again. / The fact that you are married, / Only proves, you're my best friend"

This Velvet Underground song about failed love and unmet expectations could send a person crying after two bars.
"She Don't Have to Know" by John Legend

"And oh I'll feel sorry for mistake we've made / There's no reason that we should tell her today / She don't have to know, she don't have to know"

Hearing John Legend sing about being caught in a cycle of cheating with another woman makes us cringe. Fortunately, this was written long before he got together with Chrissy Teigen.
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