In country music, there are love songs, heartbreak songs, fight songs, uplifting songs ... and cheating songs. The latter are a sort of specialty in the genre, with some of the its most iconic tunes focusing on the subject of cheating: being cheated on, doing the cheating, reasons for cheating.
Country music's cheating songs are told from the viewpoints of the mistress, the spouse involved in the affair and the dejected one. They range in feeling, from fiery anger to tongue-in-cheek confidence to deep and sorrowful heartache. Some have been around for decades, while others are a bit newer -- but they all focus solely on the subject of cheating (though country music also has some hit revenge songs!).
Read on to learn The Boot's picks for country music's best songs about cheating. The variety of these tunes shows the versatility and relatable nature of country music.
"Who's Cheatin' Who" was originally recorded by Carly McClain in 1980 and became her first No. 1 hit. Almost two decades later, Jackson released the same song on his record Everything I Love, and it peaked at No. 2. "Who's Cheatin' Who" is still a crowd favorite at Jackson's concerts and lyrics such as "A heart is on the line each and every time / Love is stolen in the shadows of the night" add real depth.
Jones once said he wrote "The Window Up Above" in 20 minutes. The song's lyrics are absolutely gut-wrenching, as a man realizes his wife's betrayal and even hears her whisper "that our marriage was all wrong" to her lover. The 1960 hit peaked at No. 2 and spent a whopping 34 weeks on the chart; it has since been recorded by many other singers, including Loretta Lynn, Leon Russell and Mickey Gilley, the latter of whom made it a No. 1 hit.
In March of 1975, Stewart released "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)" from his album Out of Hand. It became his only No. 1 hit and stayed within the Top 40 for nine weeks. It was penned by Wayne Carson, and its confessional lyrics ("The truth is, I'm not man enough / To stop her from doing me wrong") steal the show.
You know a song has made its mark when the Country Music Hall of Fame displays the original copy of its lyrics. Lambert released "White Liar," co-written by Natalie Hemby, in August of 2009; it was the second single from her album Revolution and became her second Top 10 hit, peaking at No. 2. More importantly, though, "White Liar" will make anyone think twice about telling a little white lie ...
"Reasons I Cheat" was never released as a single -- it appears on Travis' debut studio album, which dropped in 1986 -- but its lyrics certainly make their mark. The song finds its narrator offering a list of reasons for why he cheats: He didn't get a promotion, he needs someone to soothe his pride, his age keeps showing and more. So the story goes, this song is part of the reason Warner Bros. executive Martha Sharp signed Travis to his record deal; she heard him sing it at the Nashville Palace, and the rest is history.
"Whoever's in New England" garnered McEntire her first-ever Grammys trophy, for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. It is the title track and first single from her 1986 record and, notably, helped the singer with her big country breakthrough.
This saucy song was Twain's first single from her album The Woman in Me, and her first country hit; it peaked at No. 11. Twain co-wrote "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?" with (ironically), her husband at the time, Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The song was certified gold in 1995.
One of Lynn's signature songs, "You Ain't Woman Enough (to Take My Man)" is from her 1966 album of the same name. The song and album did well: The title track peaked at No. 2, and the album became her first No. 1 record on the country charts -- and her first to chart on the all-genre Billboard 200. The song was inspired by a real-life experience, and after listening, fans will know not to cross Lynn's man: "It'll be over my dead body, so get out while you can / 'Cause you ain't woman enough to take my man," she sings.
"Stay" is one of the hardest-hitting songs on this list, and fans agree, as it has sold more than 2 million copies. It was the first Sugarland song solely penned by Jennifer Nettles, and was released in September of 2007, from the duo's Enjoy the Ride album. The song peaked at No. 2, staying there for four weeks. "Stay" won two Grammys: Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Country Song.
Released in October of 1973, "Jolene" quickly became a one of Parton's most famous songs. In it, a woman begs the beautiful red-haired Jolene to not steal her husband. The song has been certified gold and recorded by many other artists, including the White Stripes, Pentatonix (who nabbed a Grammys trophy for their cover of "Jolene," which features Parton), Olivia Newton-John, Mindy Smith, Ellie Goulding, Miley Cyrus and others. It's also inspired other songs: In late 2017, country artist Cam released "Diane," which she's dubbed a response to "Jolene."