Getting cheated on isn’t fun. You just want to curl up into a ball and never leave your safe, warm bed ever again. Likewise, getting caught cheating isn’t fun either. You’re obviously not happy in your relationship and you end up looking like a dick to everyone. It’s a sticky situation whichever side you’re on.
Happily, there are a barrel load of classic tunes dedicated to the saddest part of love. Whether you’ve discovered your partner’s infidelity or been caught fooling around on the sly there’s a track for you. Here are 20 songs about cheating you should listen to.
Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes
Lou Reed’s weepy ballad is a heartbreaking lament to falling in love with a married person — knowing you can never be together.
Most emotional lyric: “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”
Amy Winehouse – ‘You Know I’m No Good’
‘I told you so’. Not the best excuse for cheating we’ve heard, but at least our Amy sticks to her guns. She stays resolutely, emphatically unapologetic.
Most emotional lyric: “I cheated myself / Like I knew I would / I told ya I was troubled / You know that I’m no good”
Willie Nelson — ‘You Were Always On My Mind’
This remorseful country classic might be the only track on this list that’ll make you feel sorry for the cheater. Plus the twinkly piano intro on Willie’s recording is simply heart-melting.
Most emotional lyric: “If I made you feel second best / Girl I’m sorry I was blind”
The Cars — ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’
The Boston new wavers don’t specifically mention cheating in this 1978 track. But they talk about a guy nicking his best pal’s girl and that’s as good as, right?
Most emotional lyric: “Well she’s my best friend’s girl-irl / And she used to be mine / She’s so fine.”
Shaggy — ‘It Wasn’t Me’
Perhaps the most famous song on this list, Shaggy’s 2000 smash hit preached the virtues of lying through your teeth when caught red-handed. It didn’t work.
Most emotional lyric: “We should tell her that I’m sorry / For the pain that I’ve caused / You may think that you’re a player / But you’re completely lost”
Elvis Costello — ‘Alison’
All subtle organ riffs and bluesy guitar fills Costello’s ‘Alison’ washes over you like a wave of happiness… until you hear the lyrics. It’s actually a gloating revenge parable from a jilted lover to his former flame.
Most emotional lyric: “Well I see you’ve got a husband now / Did he leave your pretty fingers lying / in the wedding cake? / You used to hold him right in your hand / I’ll bet he took all he could take”
The Impressions — ‘You’ve Been Cheatin”
The Tennessee group’s eleventh top 40 single sees an unfaithful lover finally confronted with their crimes.
Most emotional lyric: “Another lover you discover / Our love’s gone and I don’t know why / It’s just as well, though at last I do know / All you said was just a lie”
Rihanna — ‘Unfaithful’
RiRi said of her 2006 hit: “I’m referred to as a murderer in that song. Meaning, I’m taking this guy’s life by hurting him, cheating on him.” She added, “We always put it out there that guys cheat, and finally someone put it in perspective: girls cheat too.”
Most emotional lyric: “I don’t wanna do this anymore / I don’t wanna be the reason why / Every time I walk out the door / I see him die a little more inside”
Dolly Parton — ‘Jolene’
An instant classic, Dolly’s soulful pleas to her man’s younger lover fall on deaf ears.
Most emotional lyric: “He talks about you in his sleep / And there’s nothing I can do to keep / From crying when he calls your name”
Naughty By Nature — ‘O.P.P’
This is an acronym every jealous lover should be familiar with — Other People’s Property – although rapper Treach alludes to the last P’s rather dirtier alternative.
Most emotional lyric: “You keep your mouth shut and it won’t get back to her or him / Exciting isn’t it, a special kinda business”
Marvin Gaye — ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’
At first, Motown boss Berry Gordy wasn’t convinced Gaye’s R&B epic was a single. It soon gained radio attention as an album cut though and Gordy finally caved —releasing it properly in 1968.
Most emotional lyric: “I know a man ain’t supposed to cry / But these tears I can’t hold inside / Losin’ you would end my life you see / ‘Cause you mean that much to me”
Johnny Cash — ‘Long Black Veil’
The Man in Black’s thoughtful ballad is about a man who’d rather hang than admit he’d been playing away with his best mate’s lady. That’s commitment for you.
Most emotional lyric: “She stood in the crowd and shed not a tear / But late at night, when the north wind blows / In a long black veil, she cries over my bones”
Beyonce — ‘Irreplaceable’
Trust Queen Bey to write a song about being cheated on and still make it an empowering statement about female independence.
Most emotional lyric: “Baby I won’t shed a tear for you / I won’t lose a wink of sleep / ‘Cause the truth of the matter is / Replacing you is so easy”
The Smiths — ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’
Well we couldn’t have a list of songs about unhappy lovers without sticking a Moz tune in could we? Ol’ Bigmouth’s in full flow on this track about a suspicious girlfriend determined to catch their man in the act.
Most emotional lyric: “Nothing’s changed / I still love you, oh, I still love you / … Only slightly, only slightly less than I used to, my love”
Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris — ‘We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning’
Gram and Emmylou both know things will end in tears on this folksy ditty, but they give into their primal urges anyway. You can’t help some people…
Most emotional lyrics: “We’re two people caught up in the flame that has to die out soon / I didn’t mean to start this fire and neither did you / So tonight when you hold me tight we’ll let the fire burn on”
Usher — ‘Confessions, Part. II’
If taking on a mistress, impregnating them and lying about it is just part two of Usher’s confession, then we’re not sure we can handle the first half…
Most emotional lyric: “If I’m gonna tell it then I gotta tell it all / Damn near cried when I got that phone call”
Chuck Berry — ‘Maybellene’
One of the first ever rock ‘n’ roll songs, Berry’s 1955 hit tells the tale of a hot rod race and a broken romance.
Most emotional lyric: “Oh Maybellene , why can’t you be true / You’ve started back doin’ the things you used to do”
The Killers —’Mr Brightside’
An anthem of jealousy and distrust, frontman Brandon Flowers sings the story of a paranoid lover who can’t stop seeing images of betrayal in his head.
Most emotional lyric: “I just can’t look, it’s killing me / And taking control / Jealousy, turning saints into the sea / Swimming through sick lullabies”
George Michael — ‘Careless Whisper’
Although George Michael once said the track “was not an integral part of my emotional development”, ‘Careless Whisper’ has become the soundtrack to heartbreak for millions.
Most emotional lyric: “There’s no comfort in the truth / Pain is all you’ll find”
Fiona Apple — ‘Criminal’
The indie starlet’s breakthrough sees the singer coming clean about her past misdeeds, winning her a Grammy in the process.
Most emotional lyric: “Don’t you tell me to deny it / I’ve done wrong and I want to suffer for my sins”