24 Of The Best Songs About Betrayal

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Many of us have experienced betrayal in one form or another. Whether it’s by a partner cheating, a family or a friend who loses our trust, we know how it feels.

Betrayal is an emotional experience that has inspired songwriters to transform pain into music. Songs about deception, infidelity, and disloyalty offer consolation and understanding in moments of heartbreak.

This post explores the most hard-hitting songs about betrayal from various genres. We are inviting you to discover with us how these songs capture anguish and disappointment while evoking feelings of empathy. Without further ado, we present to you 24 of the best songs about betrayal.

1. “Somebody That I Used To Know” By Gotye Ft. Kimbra

From time to time, we come across songs like “Somebody that I Used to Know.” This emotionally charged song is a collaboration between singer-songwriter Gotye and New Zealand singer Kimbra.

At its core, the song is about a bitter breakup and how the former lovers treat each other like strangers. It explores the different perspectives and emotions of both parties as they express their resentment, loneliness, and denial.

In addition, the song explores the concept of betrayal. It shows how memories and perspectives can change after a breakup. Where once the couple felt right for each other, now they’re just people they used to know.

2. “You Oughta Know” By Alanis Morissette

Our next song isn’t the ultimate breakup song for nothing. Alanis Morissette‘s hit single, “You Oughta Know,” oozes with the raw emotions of heartbreak and betrayal.

The song follows our narrator confronting the ex-boyfriend who breaks up with her and quickly moves on with someone else. It expresses her anger, pain, and sarcasm as she questions his loyalty and honesty when they were still together.

And despite breaking up, she is not about to let him get away with his betrayal. She will always be his reminder of what he caused when he left her.

3. “Jolene” By Dolly Parton

A song that explores the complexity of love and insecurity is Dolly Parton‘s iconic track, “Jolene.” Here, the titular character is someone that the narrator is afraid might take away her man.

Jolene, from the singer’s description, seems to have the power to get any man she wants. After all, she has a beauty that’s “beyond compare.” Men would easily fall for a woman possessing a smile that’s “like a breath of spring.”

Thus, the singer implores Jolene to spare her man. The lyrics revolve around the fear of betrayal and the anxiety that another woman’s beauty might lead to infidelity. It’s an exploration of vulnerability, where the singer acknowledges her insecurities and fears.

4. “Mr. Brightside” By The Killers

Our next song, “Mr. Brightside” By The Killers, explores the depths of jealousy and insecurity. It’s about a man obsessing over his love interest with another man.

What stands out from the story in the song is how the singer subjects himself to mental torture by suspecting infidelity despite the lack of concrete evidence. He narrates his thoughts and feelings in a frantic and obsessive way as he tries to cope with his insecurity and heartbreak.

But what he thinks they’re doing is all in his head. He copes with the “betrayal” by trying to be “Mr. Brightside.” He tries to be optimistic despite the emotions that his thoughts bring out.

5. “Rolling In The Deep” By Adele

The heartwrenching “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele stems from someone who is going through heartbreak and betrayal. The emotions come from regret and a sense of loss at the end of their relationship.

Despite the pain, the scorned woman recognizes that they “could’ve had it all.” That she could have someone who has her back, someone who will be with her through the ups and down.

Only to be disappointed when her ex betrayed her and broke her heart. She accuses him of lying, playing games, and wasting her love. She also warns him that he will regret losing her, as he will eventually reap what he has sown.

6. “Cry Me A River” By Justin Timberlake

In a romantic relationship, the most painful one can do is cheat. Thus, it’s understandable for the wronged party to feel vindictive, as the singer does in Justin Timberlake‘s “Cry Me a River.”

In the song, Timberlake channels his personal experiences into a powerful narrative. He mocks his ex-girlfriend, who now wants him back after cheating on him. But he has burned the bridges and has no desire whatsoever for a reconciliation.

The title suggests the singer’s lack of sympathy for his ex. She can cry all she wants but it’s not going to bring back what they used to have.

7. “Don’t Speak” By No Doubt

Another sad love song with a theme of betrayal is “Don’t Speak” by the American band No Doubt. The song was inspired by lead vocalist Gwen Stefani’s breakup from a seven-year relationship with bassist Tony Kanal.

The lyrics perfectly describe her emotional turmoil after Kanal ended their relationship. She experiences betrayal and, more specifically, pain and heartache. The betrayal stems from the abrupt end of their long-term relationship.

As a result, she feels confused and doesn’t want to hear the truth from her ex. She asks him not to explain anymore as she knows what he will say and can’t handle it.

8. “Bad Blood” By Taylor Swift

We all know by now that if someone breaks Taylor Swift‘s heart, she’s going to write about it. But in “Bad Blood,” Swift disses a person for doing something against her.

Not just any person, though. It was speculated to be about Swift’s rivalry with Katy Perry, who reportedly hired some of Swift’s backup dancers for her own tour. What made the betrayal more painful is that Swift considered Perry a friend.

In the song, Swfit lets out her anger and disappointment as she accuses her former friend of betrayal and dishonesty. She also warns the other woman that she has made an enemy out of her and that there is no going back.

9. “Betty” By Taylor Swift

American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift knows a thing or two about betrayal. Her 2020 song, “Betty,” is a third of a trio of songs from her album Folklore. It follows a teenage love triangle from the perspectives of the characters.

In “Betty,” the story is told from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy named James. He is speaking to his love interest, Betty, who has heard the rumors from someone named Inez. It turns out the rumors about him cheating are true, and he’s not about to deny them.

James finds himself apologizing to Betty for cheating on her. He feels remorseful as he tries to win her back. He admits his mistake and hopes that she will forgive him and they can go back to the way they used to be.

10. “You Give Love A Bad Name” By Bon Jovi

Relationships whose foundation is not built on love rarely succeed. Worse is when betrayal plays a role. That’s precisely what you’ll find in Bon Jovi‘s “You Give Love A Bad Name.”

In the song, the narrator is hurt and deceived by his lover. The lyrics suggest that her looks fooled him, and she pretended from the very start. The disillusionment came later when he had already fallen hard for her.

The singer feels betrayed that while he did his part, she was playing a game. This betrayal gives ‘love’ a bad name. It ruins one’s perception of love, making him cynical and bitter.

11. “Traitor” By Olivia Rodrigo

Up next is a song with “betrayed” in the lyrics. In “Traitor,” Olivia Rodrigo laments her ex’s behavior that points to betrayal.

The song addresses heartbreak following the end of a romantic relationship, and her ex immediately moves on to someone else. By immediate, we mean two weeks after the breakup.

She recognizes he did not cheat on her, but she believes he is a traitor for the way he betrayed her. As it turns out, he was talking to this particular girl long before the breakup. He told the narrator lies and denied having romantic feelings for the other girl, only for him to run to her right after the breakup.

12. “Irreplaceable” By Beyoncé

A woman who discovers her self-worth is not going to beg a man to stay after finding out he betrayed her. That’s what you’ll find in Beyonce‘s empowering song, “Irreplaceable.”

The only option left for her to do is to kick out her unfaithful boyfriend along with his things. She won’t be swayed even if he tells her that she’s making a mistake and that she’s not going to find another like him.

Making such claims clearly shows how he didn’t know her at all. Because if he did, then he would have known that he is not irreplaceable and she won’t put up with his infidelity and lies. The woman does right by freeing herself from a toxic relationship.

13. “Gives You Hell” By The All-American Rejects

Being hurt by someone we used to love is an emotionally painful experience. And sometimes, our response involves revenge. That’s what “Gives You Hell” by The All-American Rejects is all about.

One way to look at the song is from the perspective of someone whose heart was broken in the past. We can tell the girl didn’t believe he could be anything beyond a rocker life, and so she left him for someone more promising. But then he ends up successful and wants to show her what a huge mistake she made.

He wants to get back at her for her betrayal. It’s with satisfaction that he hopes seeing him will give her hell. Although, from the way things end up with her, she’s experiencing her own “hell.”

14. “Backstabber” By Kesha

Betrayal runs deep when a “friend” turns enemy. The American singer Kesha knows one such person in her song “Backstabber.”

In the lyrics, Kesha disses a former friend who lied, gossiped, and spread rumors about her. It all stemmed from jealousy. Kesha figures out that this is the driving force behind the twisted and fake news that her “friend” spreads around.

Kesha grows tired of hearing about her life from other people as though she’s an open book. Fortunately, everyone knows the truth about this backstabbing and manipulative girl.

15. “I’m Not The Only One” By Sam Smith

One thing that’s as detestable as a person who’s cheating is the one who decides to stay with him. This is the message behind Sam Smith‘s soul-pop ballad “I’m Not the Only One.”

In the song, the wife is plagued with suspicions about her husband’s extra-marital activities. Despite the betrayal, she is in denial, thinking of the love she had given him all these years. She had suffered in silence, perhaps in the hope that the source of her pain would end.

Through it all, her husband remains clueless about her knowledge of his affair. Sadly, she has no plans of leaving him soon. She knows she is not the only woman in his life, but she reasons out that she still needs him.

16. “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” By Marvin Gaye

What could be worse than finding out from rumors instead of hearing directly from your lover that she’s about to dump you? That’s exactly the situation described in Marvin Gaye‘s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

This 1968 song is told from the perspective of a man whose lover is cheating on him. He has found out about it from the grapevine, a metaphor for gossip and rumors, that the woman is planning to leave him for her other man.

The betrayal leaves him in shock, disbelief, and pain as he wonders how long she has been lying to him and why she wants to hurt him.

17. “Judas” By Kelly Clarkson

Up next is a song that mentions betrayal through the Biblical character Judas Iscariot. After all, he is notorious for betraying Jesus. Kelly Clarkson talks about his characteristics in her 2007 song “Judas.”

The lyrics refer to a person, whether a friend, a lover, or a family, who has betrayed the singer despite all the good she did. She was there for him when no one else was. She provided him with support and fought for him.

Only for this person to turn around and betray her, he leaves and doesn’t care if they’ve been through a lot of ups and downs. It breaks her heart that he could easily deceive her like Judas.

18. “Jar Of Hearts” By Christina Perri

Our next song, Christina Perri‘s “Jar of Hearts,” shows that betrayal can stem from someone who brings deep emotional harm.

In the heartwrenching lyrics, the singer has moved on from someone who left her heart broken. She is just one of his casualties, whose hearts he collects in the metaphorical jar after leaving them.

And now he wants to get back into her life, which seems to be another attempt at breaking her heart. But she has grown stronger ever since breaking up with him. Proof of that is how she’s able to reject him and stand up for herself after being betrayed.

19. “Unfaithful” By Rihanna

How can someone live with the betrayal? Rihanna‘s “Unfaithful” shows that there comes a point when the person has to come to terms with her sins.

The lyrics tell the story of a woman who repeatedly cheats on her lover. She knows he’s aware of what goes on, but it’s either he’s too afraid to confront her, or she no longer cares if he leaves her.

However, she’s beginning to feel bad about what she does behind his back. Guilt is slowly gnawing at her, seeing how it kills him inside. It comes to a point when she no longer wants to hurt him. She doesn’t want to be seen as his “murderer” for taking away his chance at being happy.

20. “Lips Of An Angel” By Hinder

The power ballad “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder explores the themes of betrayal and emotional conflict. It follows the story of a man who receives a late-night call from his ex-girlfriend, who still loves him and wants him back.

He admits that he still has feelings for her and that he misses hearing his name from the “lips of an angel.” Apparently, both of them haven’t moved on from each other after their breakup.

Had it not been for the fact that they’re into committed relationships with other people, it would have been acceptable. But now he finds it hard to be faithful to his new girlfriend when he is still emotionally entangled with his ex.

21. “Before He Cheats” By Carrie Underwood

Revenge is the overarching theme you can find in Carrie Underwood‘s “Before He Cheats.” Here, the singer imagines her boyfriend flirting with a woman in a bar and being unfaithful.

In response to the betrayal, she thinks that the best way to get back at him is to destroy his customized “four-wheel” drive. She vandalized it in various ways, such as keying the side and slashing the tires.

She hopes he thinks of her when he sees the damage and that he learns his lesson before he cheats again. While taking revenge “might’ve saved a little trouble for the next girl,” she’s also glad that the next time he cheats, it won’t be on her.

22. “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!)” By Blu Cantrell

Another song about revenge after being betrayed is Blu Cantrell‘s “Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!).” Here, the singer’s lover cheated on her. But instead of destroying his things, she finds there’s a better way to get even.

For all the pain he has caused her, she’s going to spend all his money and ruin his credit. While he goes behind her back, she’s going to hit all the luxury stores and shop ’til she drops.

She has the same advice for other women going through a similar situation. If their men cheat, then the women better “hit ’em up style,” meaning to do it in a glamorous and extravagant way.

23. “Real Friends” By Camila Cabello

A friend who will stand by you no matter what is a treasure. They are hard to come by. But “friends” who have no qualms about betraying you are everywhere. Camila Cabello laments about these types of people in her song “Real Friends.”

We all long for authentic relationships in our lives, for people we can trust and who have our back. But in the song, the singer feels alone even in crowded rooms.

Too many times, people have disappointed her. Every time she lets someone in her heart, they end up betraying her trust and letting her down. And often, these people are the ones she considered friends.

24. “Betrayal” By Trippie Red Ft. Drake

Rappers Trippie Red and Drake collaborated for the first time in the 2021 single “Betrayal.” It appeared on the album Trip at Knight and talks about the betrayals they have gone through in their careers.

This song with “betrayal” in the title begins with Trippie Red flexing his success while at the same time using video games to show how he would beat the snakes in his life. The chorus highlights how he had been betrayed “one too many times.”

Perhaps the most controversial part of the song is Drake’s verse, where he seems to diss another rapper, Kanye West. Listeners can’t help concluding that this song is a commentary on the betrayals and conflicts that occur in the music industry.

Summing Up Our List Of Betrayal Songs

Betrayal is something we all can relate to, so we hope that the songs above show you facets of this emotion.

But while we can’t help feeling pain and disappointment when someone betrays our trust, may our experiences help us to become wiser when it comes to trusting again.

So whether you’re looking for a song to wallow in your feelings or one to help you move on from a past betrayal, there’s no shortage of options in our list.

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.