Meaning of “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood
Former American Idol champion Carrie Underwood has had a ridiculously-successful professional career.
“Before He Cheats”, which was released back on 19 August 2006, stands as the biggest hit song in her discography. This track served as the third single to the songstress’s debut album, “Some Hearts”, which itself was a major commercial success.
And as for the track itself, it topped Billboard’s Hot Country Songs listing stateside as well as their Country chart up north. But more notable is “Before He Cheats” having been certified septuple-platinum by the RIAA (as of 2021).
In fact the song to be record breaker, such as being the first within the country genre to sell 2 million copies digitally. For a moment it was also the most successful country song of all time. Furthermore it also remained on the Hot 100 for 64 consecutive weeks (i.e. 1 year and 3 months), which currently is just 4 weeks shy of placing within the top 10 of the most total weeks spent on that chart in history.
Moreover, “Before He Cheats” has won a plethora of major industry awards, such as a couple of Grammys (Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocals Performance) in 2008. It also won a pair of CMA Awards (Single of the Year and Music Video of the Year) in 2007.
On the above note, it should be pointed out that most of the trophies this track has garnered were actually in relation to its very well-received video, which was directed by a regular collaborator of Underwood’s early in her career, that being Roman White. The clip went on to earn further distinctions, such as placing within the top 10 of Country Music Television’s “100 Greatest Videos” ranking in 2008.
The Team behind the Song
The composers of this song, authors Josh Kear and Chris Tompkins alongside producer Mark Bright, are all Nashville-based musicians. Relatedly, the track itself was put out through Arista Nashville, whom Carrie signed with in 2005, i.e. the same year she won American Idol.
Interesting to note is that according to Tompkins, this piece was actually written for another country singer, Gretchen Wilson.
Originally Underwood was going to pass on “Before He Cheats” out of fear that it would alienate her established fandom. Furthermore, later down the line this same team of Kear, Tompkins and Bright composed Carrie’s 2012 track “Blown Away”, which likewise proved to be a multi-platinum, multi-Grammy hit.
The Lyrics of “Before He Cheats”
This song centers on a female vocalist’s reaction to a cheating significant other, which of course is one of the most-regular themes we come across via the music industry. However, in most of those cases, what we are met with is a singer who presents herself as being emotionally devastated. Likewise, it can be ascertained that Carrie is in her feelings also.
However, she does not reveal that sentiment through the type of lyrics that would invoke sympathy. Instead her disappointment, if you will, is manifested through hard, palpable reality, i.e. causing costly cosmetic damage to her boyfriend’s “pretty little souped up four-wheel drive”, as in his pimped-out jeep.
In other words, in response to his cheating way, Carrie proceeds to damage his car, complete with a personal touch, including the likes of the vocalist ‘carving her name into his leather seats’, presumably so that there won’t be any ambiguity around who committed the act.
And in a manner of speaking, it isn’t such that she’s upset solely due to his infidelity. Instead, Carrie is also convinced that he’s out there playing the fool with cheap women, being engaged in sex-oriented barhopping, if you will.
But by the looks of things, she’s not entertaining the idea of calling off their relationship. Rather, the thrashing of her honeybun’s whip is meant to serve as a warning, so that the “next time” he’s feeling to hook up with another woman, “he’ll think” twice, i.e. seriously ponder the destructive consequences of his actions beforehand.