The 1990s and 2000s were a gold mine for cheating songs (what on earth was in the water?) and two genres reign supreme here: country music and R&B. All the greats should have at least one song about smashing up a car, sneaking off for a cheeky fling or finding out their other half is having an affair.
These tracks document some of pop culture’s biggest scandals (hi ‘Cry Me A River’), and show off some of the best storytelling in music. If it’s infidelity you’re after – without the guilt and consequences of course – we’ve rounded up 40 of the best songs about cheating.
1. Nelly and Kelly Rowland – ‘Dilemma’
This Grammy-winning classic R&B ballad is an unorthodox love song, where the pair declare their love for one another but are already in relationships. Legends of cheating, face plasters and texting on Microsoft Excel.
2. Rihanna – ‘Unfaithful’
Here’s a super apologetic Rihanna singing about desperately wanting to call off an illicit affair, but the way she plays it leaves us feeling like she’s the victim.
3. Carrie Underwood – ‘Before He Cheats’
Oooooh Carrie Underwood is not one to be messed with in this revenge tune, where she describes fucking up her partner’s truck while he’s out with another woman. The way she growls over the chorus, the anger is REAL.
4. Justin Timberlake – ‘Cry Me A River’
Said to be the story of Justin and Britney’s relationship breakdown, this track is still one of Justin’s biggest hits. Produced by Timbaland in his prime, it’s still a banger.
5. Taylor Swift – ‘Should’ve Said No’
When Miss Swift kicked off her career, she was a true country darling, which included moving to Nashville, rocking cowboy boots, and crucially, penning songs about cheating boyfriends.
6. Blu Cantrell – ‘Hit Em Up Style’
Officially the best ways to get revenge on your cheating partner: 1: smash up and/or burn their belongings, 2: as Blu Cantrell teaches us in this one, spend all of their money.
7. Usher – ‘Confessions Part II’
This absolute epic of a ballad sees Usher find out the woman he’s cheating with is having a baby, it’s his, and he has to come clean to his girlfriend. Talk about awkward.
8. Mya – ‘Case of the Ex’
Mya confronts her other half about his interfering ex on this millennium hit. “She don’t know me, she’s about to know me” she sings softly on the bridge, but she’s ready for the fight.
9. Beyoncé – ‘Irreplaceable’
An iconic bin-your-cheating-man ballad from Bey, she was sending blokes to the left, to the left, long before Becky with the good hair was on the scene.
10. Robyn – ‘Call Your Girlfriend’
Scandipop legend Robyn plays the other woman in this synth bop, encouraging the guy she’s having the affair with to split with his girlfriend and take her instead.
11. The Killers – ‘Mr Brightside’
Song on this list your dad is most likely to murder on karaoke? Yes. Absolute anthem? Also yes. This track was quite unbelievably The Killers’ debut single and still goes off to this day.
12. Panic! at the Disco – ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’
An iconic track from pop-punk’s prime, and one the genre’s most theatrical at that. Brendon and Co tell a tale of an unfaithful wife on her wedding day, urging the groom-to-be to see her for who she really is.
13. Rihanna – ‘Take a Bow’
Once the cheater, now the cheatee. One album after ‘Unfaithful’, Rihanna finds her fella with someone else and promptly kicks him out.
14. Kelis – ‘Caught Out There’
Kelis rallies for all the girls who’ve been lied to by their boyfriends on this track from her debut album, which features the iconic “I hate you so much right now!” chorus chant.
15. Jason Derulo – ‘Whatcha Say’
Jason pleads for his girlfriend to stay after cheating on her on his fantastic debut single, which famously samples Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ for its chorus.
16. Jazmine Sullivan – ‘Bust Your Windows’
The R&B version of Carrie’s ‘Before He Cheats’, Jazmine finds her boyfriend cheating and promptly wrecks his vehicle. In the video for this powerful track, she also smashes his record collection, pours away expensive wines and pops his watches in the fish tank.
17. Shaggy – ‘It Wasn’t Me’
Probably one of the most famous cheating anthems, this certified classic sees featured artist Rikrok confess to his girlfriend finding him cheating, while Shaggy advises him to simply deny deny deny…
18. Destiny’s Child – ‘Say My Name’
Beyonce seems to have been dealt a shit hand right from the start (who is cheating on her? Who?!). Here she is with the second lineup of Destiny’s Child (Kelly, Michelle and Farrah) for this 1999 smash, where the character suspects her partner of infidelity.
19. Brandy and Monica – ‘The Boy is Mine’
Two teen queens go head to head in this musical battle for the same man, and while it’s not clear who the winner is, it’s absolutely certain that this is a timeless duet.
20. TLC – ‘Creep’
This TLC single tells girls that if you know your man is cheating, just cheat back! Left Eye was originally against this track being released, as she disagreed with the message it put out, but it did get them a Grammy and became the third biggest single of 1995.
21. Deborah Cox – ‘It’s Over Now’
Famous for the numerous dance remixes and samples of it’s “you’ve been cheating and telling me lies” chorus line, the original is a much more heartfelt R&B slowjam.
22. Whitney Houston – ‘It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay’
Whitney sings of leaving an unfaithful lover in this 90s dancefloor hit. With considerably less belting than her usual, it delivers a message of strength and hope over a groovy neo-R&B beat.
23. Fiona Apple – ‘Criminal’
Fiona has said this song is about using her sexuality to get what she wants, penning lines like “I’ve done wrong and I wanna suffer for my sins” and “I need to be redeemed to the one I’ve sinned against” at the tender age of 18.
24. Alanis Morissette – ‘You Oughta Know’
This track, which signalled Alanis’ rebrand as an alt-rock queen, is a vengeful anthem that she herself said stopped her from smashing up a car. She’s never confirmed who it’s about, but it’s long been thought to be a roasting of actor and ex Dave Coulier.
25. Taylor Swift – ‘no body no crime (feat. HAIM)’
It’s amazing that Taylor Swift waited fifteen years before she started singing about killing men, but she finally did it on this country team up with sister trio HAIM, from latest surprise full length ‘evermore’.
26. Ariana Grande – ‘One Last Time’
This song has come to be associated with the tragic events of the terrorist attack that took place at Ariana’s Manchester concert in 2016, so it’s sort of wild that it’s a track about, erm, wanting an ex back for one night after he’s moved on to another woman.
27. Cardi B – ‘Thru Your Phone’
Cardi’s well documented rocky relationship with Offset makes this track pretty transparent. One of the more vulnerable tracks on her debut album ‘Invasion of Privacy’, it’s also one of the only ones to feature her singing vocals on the chorus.
28. SZA – ‘The Weekend’
Writing from the perspective of the side chick, SZA leaves you kind of rooting for her in this track about picking up another woman’s bloke for a few days a week.
29. Beyoncé – ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’
Remember the cultural impact ‘Lemonade’ had when it dropped and everyone thought Jay Z was cheating on Beyoncé? This roaring call out of a track is a standout on the album and proved Bey can smash any genre.
30. Sam Smith – ‘I’m Not The Only One’
This heart-wrenching ballad about a failing marriage is one of the finest in Sam Smith’s discography. The third single from their first album, Sam revealed it’s the only track not about their own life, but rather a married couple they knew.
31. Charlie Puth – ‘How Long’
On this funky track from Charlie’s second album, he plays both parts as he explains the affair he’s having, while in the chorus he takes on the role of his girlfriend when she finds out.
32. Charli XCX – ‘No Angel’
“Don’t wanna burst your bubble but I cheat and lie, it’s the truth” has to be the smartest line on this unreal B-side bop about making the same mistakes over and over.
33. George Michael – ‘Careless Whisper’
Arguably the most famous saxophone line of all time, this classic from the late George Michael is deceptively sexy as it’s actually based on stories from his childhood, specifically two-timing two girls in school.
34. Fleetwood Mac – ‘Little Lies’
A band with more than enough infidelity to go around, Christine McVie croons on this late 80s track for her lover to carry on lying to her in the relationship, while she knows he’s off with someone else.
35. Billy Paul – ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’
Much like ‘Dilemma’, this soul classic describes an affair between the character and someone else’s wife (Mrs. Jones), who know they’re in the wrong, but are too in love to go back.
36. Stevie Wonder – ‘Part Time Lover’
In this funky 80s number, Stevie Wonder tells the story of cheating on his wife with a mistress, but later finds out his wife is also cheating on him.
37. Marvin Gaye – ‘Heard It Through the Grapevine’
One of the biggest selling Motown singles of all time, Marvin Gaye’s rendition of ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ tells the story of finding out about his girlfriend’s infidelity from other people.
38. Loretta Lynn – ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’
Written after Loretta met a woman backstage before a concert, who told her someone else was after her husband. She told the woman “she ain’t woman enough to take your man!”, and promptly wrote the rest of the song in her dressing room.
39. Shania Twain – ‘Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?’
It doesn’t get much more country than this: Shania Twain singing about a cowboy who’s been going behind her back and sleeping around with every girl in town.
40. Dolly Parton – ‘Jolene’
A true story, ‘Jolene’ tells the tale of a red-headed woman who tried to take Dolly’s husband while she was away on tour. As she says when explaining the track, she kept her husband though, and had it out with both him and Jolene!