Songs about cheating are about as old as relationships themselves. After all, there’s nothing more cathartic than writing a great song about a horrible person. That said, these songs about cheating come at the topic from a variety of angles. So, without spoiling anything, check out this list of some of the best.
Dolly Parton – Jolene
While legendary country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton is best known for her hit, “Jolene,” the song’s inspiration didn’t exactly come from confronting a real-life mistress. Instead, Parton wrote it about a bank clerk who flirted with Parton’s husband, Carl Dean. She got the name and appearance of Jolene from a fan she met. It went on to become her second No.1 solo single.
Miranda Lambert – White Liar
The second single from Miranda Lambert’s 2009 album, Revolution, “White Liar” is about confronting a man that has cheated. The following year, she took home an ACM Award for Video of the Year, which depicts a bride running off with the best man. Lambert eventually donated an original handwritten copy of the song’s lyrics to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Eminem ft. Rihanna – Love The Way You Lie
Eminem’s 2010 collaboration with Rihanna, “Love The Way You Lie,” is a duet that seems to tell the story of a toxic relationship. The massive hit went on to earn five Grammy nominations. Despite what most people think, the track was actually written by singer-songwriter Skylar Grey about her experience in the music industry.
Trey Songz – Last Time
A different perspective for a song about cheating, Trey Songz’s 2007 single, “Last Time,” focuses on a man ending things with a mistress to go back to his girlfriend. “I’m livin’ two different lives / One girl in the day / You in the night,” he sings on one of the verses. It peaked at No.9 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Aaliyah – If Your Girl Only Knew
Recorded for her 1996 album, One in a Million, Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew” is about rejecting a man who is already in a relationship. Co-written by Missy Elliott and Timbaland, the song reached No.21 on the UK Singles Chart. Other singer-songwriters have paid tribute to the Aaliyah song, with Sweden’s Erik Hassle releasing a gender-swapped version in 2016.
Patsy Cline – Your Cheatin’ Heart
Patsy Cline’s 1962 song, “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” was first recorded and released by country singer-songwriter Hank Williams in 1952. While Cline might be best known for her album version, the cover appeared on the soundtrack for her biographical movie, Sweet Dreams, in which the vocals were laid over a different arrangement.
Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies
Fleetwood Mac’s “Little Lies” was written by band member Christine McVie. Released in 1987, the song marks the band’s last top ten hit. It also saw a boost in popularity after actress Hilary Duff covered it in 2016 to promote her television series, Younger.
Shania Twain – Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?
“Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” by Shania Twain was the first single from her second studio album. The song finds Twain questioning a man that’s seeing different women. Despite the lyrics, she actually co-wrote it with her then-husband. That same year, it became a major hit, certified Gold for selling over 500,000 copies.
Hank Williams – Your Cheatin’ Heart
Hank Williams’ song “Your Cheatin’ Heart” was written about his first wife at the time. He thought of the lyrics while driving with a separate fianceé. The track was recorded in September 1952, and released in January – just a few days after Williams’ death. It became one of his biggest hits, and also served as the title for a 1964 biopic about the singer-songwriter.
George Michael – Careless Whisper
The inspiration for George Michael’s 1984 song “Careless Whisper” came from his teenage dating experiences. As Michael wrote in his autobiography, “The whole idea of “Careless Whisper” was the first girl finding out about the second – which she never did. But I started another relationship with a girl called Alexis without finishing the one with Jane. It all got a bit complicated. Jane found out about her and got rid of me … The whole time I thought I was being cool, being this two-timer, but there really wasn’t that much emotion involved. I did feel guilty about the first girl – and I have seen her since – and the idea of the song was about her.”
Carrie Underwood – Before He Cheats
“Before He Cheats” is one of Carrie Underwood’s biggest songs and an entertaining karaoke staple. Underwood famously details what she does after catching someone cheating, including taking a Louisville slugger baseball bat to his car’s headlights. It became the first country song to sell over two million digital copies. “I wouldn’t recommend doing any property damage, though. I’m a ‘let it go, move on’ kind of person,” Underwood once told Rolling Stone.
Mya – Case Of The Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)
Mya’s “Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)” is an R&B song written by Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, Traci Hale, and Thabiso “Tab” Nkhereanyne for Mya’s second album, 2000’s Fear of Flying. While Mya sings about a boy who still talks to his ex, it was “Hale who came up with the lyric idea,” Stewart once said. “[It] was inspired by a relationship she was going through at the time and revolved around ‘a strong woman who won’t tolerate her man returning to his ex-girlfriend.’”
John Legend – She Don’t Have To Know
John Legend released the song “She Don’t Have to Know” in 2004, which details two people cheating on their partners with one another. Produced by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, Legend first starts the song from the man’s perspective, before switching to the woman’s perspective in the second verse.
Maroon 5 – Wake Up Call
Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call” lyrically details catching a woman cheating and served as a single for the band’s second album in 2007. The cheating concept carried over into the music video, which was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, where lead singer Adam Levine discovers the infidelity and fights with the other man.
Billy Paul – Me and Mrs. Jones
“Me and Mrs. Jones” is a 1972 song recorded by Billy Paul, about a man having an affair with the character of Mrs. Jones, implying both are cheating. It reached No.1 in December of that same year. The song also saw a slight resurgence after Michael Bublé released his version in 2007, which had his then-girlfriend, actress Emily Blunt, tackling a verse.
Eagles – Lyin’ Eyes
Written by band members Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Eagles recorded “Lyin’ Eyes” in 1975. The song was initially inspired by a dinner Henley and Frey had in Los Angeles, where they saw women who didn’t seem fit the men they were with, implying someone was cheating. It went on to win a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus, as well as a nomination for Record of the Year.
Sugarland feat. Taylor Swift – Babe
Written by Taylor Swift and Train’s Patrick Monahan in 2012, “Babe” details how a cheating partner ruins a relationship. Years later, Swift released her solo recorded version of the song, “Babe (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” as part of her November album re-recording, Red (Taylor’s Version).
Ariana Grande – One Last Time
“One Last Time” by Ariana Grande was featured on her second studio album, 2014’s My Everything. While the song is about wanting to spend one last night with an ex, Grande’s inspiration for the music video took a sci-fi turn. Teaming up with filmmaker Matt Landis, it tells a story about a couple preparing for a comet to hit Earth.
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me a River
Justin Timberlake’s song “Cry Me a River” is about his animosity towards someone who cheated. Many speculated that Timberlake was writing about his breakup with Britney Spears. Fueling the public’s interest, the music video features a blonde that looked like Spears as the speculative cheater.
Loretta Lynn – You Ain’t Woman Enough
“You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” was written and recorded by country singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn. After meeting a woman backstage who told her about how someone tried to steal her husband, Lynn wrote the song. (Specifically, Lynn replied with the classic line, “Honey, she ain’t woman enough to take your man!” according to PBS in 2016.)
Usher – Confessions Part II
“Confessions Part II” is Usher’s 2004 continuation of part one, which details a male narrator’s infidelity that leads to a pregnant mistress. Part two finds him still trying to make it up to his current girlfriend. It reached No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was the album’s third consecutive single to do so. However, given the lyrical content and the demise of his relationship with TLC’s Chilli, many wondered if the story was true. He would later refute it during an interview with MTV.
Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One
Sam Smith released “I’m Not the Only One,” a song about a cheating partner. “I just wanted to bring out a song that is classic and that had longevity to it. If you listen to the record, there’s a few songs on there I actually think would be safer bets to go in terms of radio, but I wanted to make a statement. I also want people to know that I’m not just doing it to have big radio hits. I want people to buy into the album and I feel like ‘I’m Not the Only One’ is an album-seller,” Smith said in 2014.
Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend
Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” appears on her seventh studio album, Body Talk. The song is about a woman who wants a man to end his relationship. As the record’s second single in 2011, it became one of the Swedish pop star’s biggest hits, with the electropop song getting a nomination for Best Dance Recording at the Grammy Awards in 2012.
P!nk feat. Eminem – Revenge
P!nk teamed up with Eminem in 2017 to write the single “Revenge,” alongside Max Martin and Shellback. Released through RCA Records, it was Pink’s second single from her album Beautiful Trauma. It tells a story about two people in a toxic relationship. However, P!nk told Lorraine Magazine, “It’s a funny song. It’s fun. There is nothing serious about it. My mom loves it.”
Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know
Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” is her biggest hit and a song about cheating that has been practically inescapable for even the most casual music listener. Written and released in 1995 when Morissette was 21, the lead single from her critically-acclaimed album, Jagged Little Pill, was believed to be about Full House actor Dave Coulier. Despite the rumors, the song’s subject has never been confirmed.
TLC – Creep
TLC’s 1994 song “Creep” was written by Dallas Austin about member T-Boz’s personal experience with cheating, particularly women who do it to gain extra attention from their actual relationship. Given the song’s meaning, band member Left Eye threatened to not appear in the music video, but eventually caved. “Creep” went on to reach No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Amy Winehouse – Between the Cheats
“Between the Cheats” by Amy Winehouse was recorded in 2008, with the intent of appearing on the late singer-songwriter’s eventual third album. Instead, it was included on a posthumous compilation, Lioness: Hidden Treasures. “It’s basically about her marriage where there was cheating going on. But this is kind of in the vibe of what we were working on for the forthcoming Amy album: a bit more doo-wop, heavy background vocals, male background vocals,” producer Salaam Remi told Complex.
Blu Cantrell – Hit Em Up Style
Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” was her debut single in April 2001 and is still the R&B star’s most successful to date. The song’s concept centers around women getting back at cheating men by taking their money. Interestingly, it samples Frank Sinatra’s “Boys’ Night Out.”
Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay
“It’s Not Right but It’s Okay” was released by Whitney Houston in 1999, about a woman confronting her partner about cheating. Houston went on to win the Grammy Award in 2000 for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance with the song.
Marvin Gaye – Heard It Through the Grapevine
Marvin Gaye recorded “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” after Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote it for Motown Records in 1966. (Before Gaye’s take, The Miracles recorded a version, followed by Gladys Knight & the Pips.) Despite Gaye’s version not being released until October 1968 as a single, it reached the top of Billboard’s Pop Singles chart. In 1998, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Panic! at the Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies
Emo band Panic! at the Disco’s biggest hit, “I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” was the second single from their 2005 debut album, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. The song details a groom finding out that this soon-to-be bride is cheating. This concept crossed over into the music video, which featured a circus-themed wedding and won Video of the Year at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.
Have a few songs about cheating that you think should be added to our list? Let us know in the comments below.