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Top 110 Songs About Betrayal

We can go through plenty of emotions in our lives. Some are good, others not so good. But, of all the bad emotions, betrayal could be the worst. It can leave us lost, dazed, and confused. Was it our fault? Something we said or did? Quite often, it isn’t; it is the other person.

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And it need not be a lover or partner. This could be a long-time friend or a business partner; it could even be a family member. It’s that betrayal of trust that hurts the most. And, we have likely all been the victims of trust at some point.

Songwriters Are Not Slow To Use The Theme

Songs about betrayal have been around ever since people started writing music. In some ways, for some, it is a therapy. A way of relieving the anger. Soo, I’ve decided to take a look at a few of them.

Whatever the reason, they often stir up plenty of emotion. Did I say Dazed and Confused? Let’s start there.

Top 110 Songs About Betrayal

1 Dazed and Confused (Remaster) by Led Zeppelin

If, as some people say, Led Zeppelin II was their best album, then it is possible that Led Zeppelin I is not far behind. This is a track from that album.

Unfortunately, it is another of these seemingly endless examples of Jimmy Page, shall we say, “borrowing” the basis of the song from elsewhere. Not as blatant as “Whole Lotta Love,” which still makes me cringe today. 

The original song… 

Written by Jake Holmes in 1967. It was played by The Yardbirds in their stage set. It was also on their album Yardbirds 68. At the time, Page was a member of the Yardbirds. Then a couple of years later, it appears on Led Zep One with a few minor lyrical and vocal changes, but not enough to warrant claiming writing credits.

It ended up in court, and Holmes was given credits. It is a song about a girl having thoughts about ending a relationship and the indecision and confusion she feels.

2 The First Cut Is The Deepest by PP Arnold

PP Arnold had been a member of the “Ikettes,” backing singers with Ike and Tina Turner. After a UK tour, she decided to stay in the UK, where she said she was respected more as a person than in the US.

She had some success, with this song perhaps being the most memorable. She had a brief fling with Steve Marriott while he was with the Small Faces, and she sang on “Tin Soldier.”

The Best Version…

“First Cut” is a track from her 1967 album New Masters. The song was written by British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens and was later released by Sheryl Crow. In my view, it is the PP Arnold version that is the best, which reached number 18 in the UK chart.

It is a song about someone wanting to love someone again but is frightened to get involved after being betrayed by a former lover. A great song with a very good performance from a grossly underrated singer.

3 I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye

If ever there was the archetypal song about betrayal by a partner, then this is probably it. Getting cheated by someone is quite bad enough. But hearing it come from someone else seems to make it that much worse.

That is the subject of this enormous Motown classic. A song about a man who hears that his girl or wife, it doesn’t specify, is going back to her ex. Originally recorded by Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye made it a signature betrayal song

It was written for Motown by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. Marvin Gaye’s version was released in 1966, a year after Gladys Knight had seen success with it. It became Motown’s biggest selling record for many years. And one of the greatest songs about betrayal ever recorded.

4 You Won’t See Me (Remastered) by The Beatles

It isn’t usually very long in any list of songs before you come across a song from The Beatles. This one is from the album Rubber Soul. At the time, at three and a half minutes, it was the band’s longest ever recording.

The album came out in 1965, and this was one of the last songs they recorded. It was written by Paul McCartney, and there is plenty of contempt evident for his then-girlfriend Jane Asher. 

The relationship was coming to an end…

That much was clear. Asher had gone off to Bristol to work in a Charles Dickens play, and McCartney couldn’t reach her on the phone. “Act your age,” he tells her. He felt she had betrayed him by just going off as she did and then refusing to speak with him.

Roadie Mal Evans would keep people amused by stories of his contribution. He held a solitary note during the final verse on a Hammond Organ. “I played organ with the boys,” he would say. He got his credit for his illustrious performance. A good bloke was Mal.

5 In the Air Tonight (2015 Remaster) by Phil Collins

Yes, that song with “that” drum break in it. Phil was touring with Genesis at the time of his marriage breakup in 1980, and their schedule was pretty hectic. He was, and some would say still is, prone to slightly erratic behavior. His ex-wife claimed that is what caused the split.

There is a certain amount of cynicism in some circles about the split. I read one commentator say that when people get divorced, it usually costs the man a fortune. But, with all the songs he wrote about it, Phil actually made a fortune.

Nevertheless, it must have been a traumatic time for him as he watched her go off with a painter and decorator. For a while, when he performed the song, he would play his keyboard with a pot of paint and a brush beside him. Either very strange or very funny.

6 Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson

Very little comes from these “idol” or “got talent” programs. But she did. And she proved to be a worthy winner. With good songs and voice, and powerful stage presence, she bucked the trend. She certainly didn’t disappear into obscurity like most and gave music something worthwhile.

This is a song from her album of the same name released in 2011. It continues the theme of strength and empowerment in women. Something that was always there but was forcibly hidden by some.

It tells us about a relationship that wasn’t at the end as she makes the cutting remark that “the bed is warmer since you left.” She is seemingly intent on letting him know that she is going to be fine and better off without him. A great performance from a very good singer.

7 Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Cher

This was taken from her second album from 1966 and was also her second single. It was written by Sonny Bono, who was her husband at the time, and became her biggest selling single of the 60s.

This demonstrated two things. First, Sonny Bono was a better songwriter than many at the time were giving him credit for. And second, it showed what some people suspected – she was going to be a big attraction in the future.

It is one of those songs about looking back on life and recognizing things are not always that happy. That people are going to let us down. A very good song about betrayal with a good performance.

8 Whiskey In The Jar by Thin Lizzy

This is a traditional Irish folk song that has been recorded many times over. The mention of the Cork and Kerry mountains tells us that it is set in Southern Ireland. It is a song that tells the story of a highwayman who is betrayed by his partner. 

He has robbed a government official to get her money, but she is not interested in him, just the cash. She keeps it and betrays him. The song never identifies her as his wife or lover.


It is unclear exactly where the song came from. Although it is possible that it loosely refers to a highwayman, Patrick Fleming. He was executed in 1650. Whoever it is referring to is not important.

The song was made popular by the Dubliners in the 60s and then by The Highwaymen in 1962. But, it was the 1973 Thin Lizzy version that everyone remembers, and rightly so. They turned it into more of a folk-rock song, and it established them as a potent force in rock music. Other rockers have also performed it, including Metallica and Bryan Adams. But, it is the ‘Lizzy’ version that stands supreme.

9 Back Stabbers by The O’Jays

Back to the Philadelphia sound, “pop-soul” music of the 70s for this one from the O’Jays. A hit at the time, it was taken from their album of the same name.

This song might have coded references to people that you come across in the music business. It talks about people who smile in your face and then stab you in the back. The music industry is full of those. It was then and still is today, though maybe not so much.

It was intended to be a disco-type dance track which was the vogue at the time. Later, it was covered by Tina Turner. Not going to win too many literary or songwriting awards, but it does emphasize a type of betrayal that is very common.

10 Lyin’ Eyes (2013 Remaster) by The Eagles

I suppose we have all heard the stories. Young girl snares old man to lead a comfortable life. It has its strings attached, though, doesn’t it? And, it is interesting to me that some women think that while they are being unfaithful with a younger man, the older man doesn’t know. Of course, he does.

The Eagles were still a fledgling band when the idea for the song came from Glenn Frey. A lot of the places they would play had these women on the lookout for their sugar daddy. Glenn remarked that they didn’t even bother to hide their lying eyes.

A Common Scenario…

Of course, it isn’t limited to California; it goes on all over the world. And, I dare say, the deceit does as well. It is a sad and lonely life that she wasn’t expecting despite the house, probably the car, and the money. Every form of refuge has its price.

The lyrics from Glenn Frey and Don Henly capture the situation perfectly. Showing a little understanding but no sympathy. Simply, one of the best songs about betrayal.

11 Positively 4th Street by Bob Dylan

This may well have been the song that changed the writing capabilities of so many. Bob had often called people to task over the years. Some, in those early days, called him rude. But only those he was talking about.

This song changed attitudes. Joni Mitchell said it was a revelation to her. Suddenly, she realized you could write about anyone and anything.

A Mystery…

The intended recipient of the cutting remarks has never been formally identified. There are suggestions as to who it might be, but there always will be. But there are lines such as:

“I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, You’d know what a drag it is to see you.” 

Someone that may have been close to him at some point, maybe? Ouch. Dylan is at his best. One of those backstabbing songs we mentioned a few songs ago.

12 You Oughta Know by Alanis Morrisette

This is a track from her third studio album, Jagged Little Pill. Her previous two albums had not had too much of an impact. This album, however, introduced this Canadian singer to the world. Most people will know the song “Ironic” from that album, but this will come a close second.

An Attempt To Change Attitudes

Released in 1995, it had an impact in more ways than one. Women had always been dictated to by the music bosses. This was a slap in the face for those that tried with her. She wasn’t having it anymore, and she wanted to let them and everyone else know she was angry.

She never did identify the person who the song was aimed at. It is just very clear that something happened, which she portrays as cheating and a betrayal. A great song from a great album.

13 Reason to Believe by Tim Hardin

Undoubtedly, one of the great songwriters of his generation who, in many ways, stayed under the radar. He wrote some great songs, including this one, but he also wrote the much-recorded “If I Were A Carpenter.” 

A tortured soul, like so many others, he died from a heroin overdose in 1980, aged just 39. He left us with his work, though, one of which was “Reason To Believe.” 


It was covered, and I suppose you could say “made famous” by Rod Stewart on the album, Every Picture Tells A Story. But, it was Tim’s version that resonated most with some people. His sincerity is evident in the singing, especially when he plaintively sings:

“Knowing, that you lied, Straight-faced, while I cried”

Great song and straight-to-the-point lyrics. Telling someone he just can’t believe in them, he needs a reason.

14 Jar of Hearts – Christina Perri

15 No Scrubs – TLC

16 Foolish Games – Jewel

17 Shadow of the Day – Linkin Park

18 Cold Cold Heart – Hank Williams

19 You’re So Vain – Carly Simon

20 Rolling in the Deep – Adele

21 Lovefool – The Cardigans

22 I Heard You Were Looking for Me – Hank Williams Jr.

23 How to Save a Life – The Fray

24 Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye (feat. Kimbra)

25 Cryin’ – Aerosmith

26 The Break-Up Song – Greg Kihn Band

27 Behind Blue Eyes – The Who

28 Careless Whisper – George Michael

29 I Don’t Care Anymore – Phil Collins

30 A Face In The Crowd – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

31 I Don’t Want To Know – Fleetwood Mac

32 November Rain – Guns N’ Roses

33 Goodbye My Lover – James Blunt

34 Say It Ain’t So – Weezer

35 Take A Bow – Madonna

36 You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go – Bob Dylan

37 I Heard Love Is Blind – Amy Winehouse

38 Part-Time Lover – Stevie Wonder

39 Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) – Journey

40 Used To Love Her – Guns N’ Roses

41 Changes – Tupac

42 I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

43 Your Cheatin’ Heart – Hank Williams

44 Every Breath You Take – The Police

45 Kerosene – Miranda Lambert

46 I Knew You Were Trouble – Taylor Swift

47 Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day

48 Mr. Brightside – The Killers

49 No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) – Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand

50 Dirty Laundry – Don Henley

More 60 Songs About Betrayal

    1. Irreplaceable – Beyoncé
    2. Used to Love You – Gwen Stefani
    3. Cry Me a River – Justin Timberlake
    4. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
    5. Love Stinks – The J. Geils Band
    6. Brokenhearted – Karmin
    7. Blank Space – Taylor Swift
    8. Before He Cheats – Carrie Underwood
    9. Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles
    10. It Wasn’t Me – Shaggy (feat. Rikrok)
    11. Call Out My Name – The Weeknd
    12. I Will Remember You – Sarah McLachlan
    13. Poker Face – Lady Gaga
    14. Gave Up – Nine Inch Nails
    15. Love Bites – Def Leppard
    16. Hurt – Nine Inch Nails
    17. Tainted Love – Soft Cell
    18. Love Lies – Khalid & Normani
    19. Say My Name – Destiny’s Child
    20. One Way or Another – Blondie
    21. The One That Got Away – Katy Perry
    22. Same Old Love – Selena Gomez
    23. Bitter Sweet Symphony – The Verve
    24. Love Interruption – Jack White
    25. You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone – Brooks & Dunn
    26. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
    27. Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes
    28. If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot
    29. Ghost of Love – David Lynch
    30. Lips of an Angel – Hinder
    31. Love Is a Battlefield – Pat Benatar
    32. So Much To Say – Dave Matthews Band
    33. Gold Digger – Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx
    34. Smokestack Lightning – Howlin’ Wolf
    35. Judas – Lady Gaga
    36. No More Tears – Ozzy Osbourne
    37. Don’t Speak – No Doubt
    38. Black Hearted Woman – The Allman Brothers Band
    39. Love Is A Losing Game – Amy Winehouse
    40. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
    41. One – U2
    42. Beds are Burning – Midnight Oil
    43. Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – The Temptations
    44. Sorry – Justin Bieber
    45. Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks
    46. Song Cry – Jay-Z
    47. The End – The Doors
    48. Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton
    49. Promiscuous – Nelly Furtado featuring Timbaland
    50. Can’t Trust Thots – Wash featuring French Montana
    51. Estranged – Guns N’ Roses
    52. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
    53. Cold Hearted – Paula Abdul
    54. Toxic – Britney Spears
    55. Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) – Blu Cantrell
    56. Picture to Burn – Taylor Swift
    57. Gives You Hell – The All-American Rejects
    58. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus
    59. I Don’t Want You Back – Eamon
    60. She Used to Be Mine – Sara Bareilles

Searching for Songs with Substance?

We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs about Fighting, the Best Songs About Walking, the Best Songs About Change, the Best Songs About Dreams, the Best Songs About Friendship, and the Best Songs about Friday for more great song selection.

You’ll need to listen to all these great tracks. So check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds, the Best Noise Isolating Earbuds, the Best Headphones for Music, and the Best Headphones Under $200 you can buy in 2023.

Songs About Betrayal – Final Thoughts

I’m out of time. As usual, when creating these lists, there are always some great songs on the subject you have to exclude. It’s always difficult deciding which. But when it comes to songs of betrayal, a few others should be mentioned:

      • “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge.
      • “Evil-Hearted You” by The Yardbirds.
      • “Games People Play” by Joe South.

There are others, of course. It is a subject that understandably has inspired some great music and some even greater lyrics.

Until next time, let the music play.

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