Carrie Underwood’s 2005 country anthem “Before He Cheats” not only brought new life to karaoke bars nationwide, but also gave female victims of cheating justification for taking a baseball bat to their former partners’ vehicles.
Female country artists have been singing about cheating since Patsy Cline redid the Hank Williams ballad “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in the early 1960s. Taylor Swift has essentially made millions by signing about her relationship woes.
Either the women of country have a strange tendency to attract wandering men, or they are among the only females with enough chutzpah to wail about it into a microphone.
Cheating, however, is not limited to the world of steel guitars and southern twang.
The Billboard Top 100 Songs for 2012 featured 11 songs about cheating, but none of the year’s cheating tracks came from empowered female country artists. Taylor Swift capitalized on “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but 2012 left most of the songs about cheating to the realm of rap.
The Daily Texan limited our research on cheating in music to the top 100 singles of 2012. All statistical findings are based on that data.
Of the 16 rap songs that fall among the top 100, eight of them are about cheating. Those songs are all sung from the male perspective.
Drake, the pretty boy of the rap industry, showed off a more sensitive side in his song “Take Care.” The song was a collaboration with Rihanna and charted at No. 23, but was also the only cheating-oriented rap song where the man was the victim.
The other seven cheating-themed rap songs are all focused on the apparent glamour of cheating, as if it is a status symbol or a badge of honor that all of the boys of rap long to pin on their flat-billed baseball caps.
Even outside of rap, the females of the music industry stayed relatively silent about their relationship exploits and experiences.
When women do channel their cheating struggles into songs, they typically sing about being the victim of relationship dishonesty.
None of the cheating-related songs released in 2012 were sung by females, so our research was focused on the country music genre.
Underwood sings about teaching her ex-partner a lesson and getting retribution by vandalizing his car. Taylor Swift releases the heartache she experienced with one of her celebrity boyfriends who strayed in her song “Should’ve Said No.” Shania Twain questions her wandering partner in the song “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under.”
All of these cheated ladies come from the genre of country, which is a genre that typically harbors empowered female singers. The lifestyle of a stereotypical country star is starkly different from the lifestyle of the stereotypical rapper, which could also be a factor in the different approach to dishonesty.
Aside from the few female rappers such as Nicki Minaj and Ciara, rap is usually a male-dominated genre. This, combined with the infamous rapper lifestyle, makes it unlikely to find a rap song where the man is portrayed as the victim.
Instead, the top-charting rap songs allude to a lifestyle of “thirsty women” and “stealing bitches.” They can be heard blaring through club speakers and providing a sound track to high school proms nationwide.
Meanwhile, there is a woman in a nameless, dimly lit bar drunkenly singing “Before He Cheats” for karaoke night.
Click the image below to check out Daily Texan Life and Art's full breakdown of what the Top 100 Songs say or don't say about cheating.