Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Carrie Underwood -- "Before He Cheats" (2006)

Right now, she's probably saying "I'm drunk"
And he's thinking that he's gonna get lucky

("Probably"?  Ha!  Ain't no "probably" about it, Miz Underwood.  To borrow a word coined by a very dear friend, he is abso-frickin'-lutely thinking he's gonna get lucky.)

This is the second 2 or 3 lines in a row that features a country song.  But don't worry, gentle readers -- country music isn't going to become the predominant genre here.

After writing about Toby Keith's "How Do Like Me Now?!" -- a paean to getting even with those who do you wrong -- I was reminded of this little ditty, which is equally bullish on the pleasures of revenge.

Toby Keith's character got even with a girl who blew him off in high school by becoming a big star.  His unadulterated glee when she was victimized by her cheating husband was a bit unseemly, but he had nothing to do with making her miserable -- his hands were clean.  

Compare the singer in Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats."  When she catches her boyfriend "slow dancing with a bleached-blond tramp," she gets even by going all medieval on his pickup truck.  (Note: I don't know that much about Carrie Underwood.  But based on her appearance and demeanor in the "Before He Cheats" music video, I would say that we may have a case here of the pot calling the kettle a bleached-blond tramp.)

First, the vengeful young lady keys the side of the vehicle.  Then she carves her name into his leather seats.  (Pickup trucks have leather seats?  Who knew?)  Next she takes a Louisville Slugger to his headlights.  Finally, she administers the coup de grace, slashing all four of his tires.

Speak softly, and carry a Louisville Slugger
What I'm about to say will make me sound like a whiny little you-know-what, but it needs to be said.  Why the hell is it considered acceptable for a woman to abuse a man in ways that would get a guy neutered (figuratively, and perhaps literally) if he did the same stuff to a woman?

Let's face the facts.  There's a double standard in our culture when it comes to violence and abuse inflicted on someone by a member of the opposite sex.  A man can't even think of touching (or threatening to touch) a woman in anger.  But a woman can pretty much whale away on a guy without fear of repercussions.

Former lovebirds Finley and Kitaen
Consider the reaction to baseball pitcher Chuck Finley getting beat up by his wife, "actress" Tawny Kitaen, who had previously been married to Whitesnake's lead singer, David Coverdale -- he became a laughingstock.

Kitaen was arrested for domestic abuse after repeatedly kicking Finley with her high heels in 2002.  Finley not only suffered physically, but had to put up with everyone sniggering at his inability to defend himself from a woman.  As one ESPN.com writer put it at the time,

He [will face] constant heckling for the rest of his career and the distinct possibility that despite nearly 200 career wins and more than 2000 strikeouts, he will be forever remembered as the 6-foot-6 pitcher who got beat up by the chick in the Whitesnake videos. 

By the way . . . Tawny Kitaen didn't spend a day in jail.  And when Finley filed for divorce three days after she assaulted him, she had the nerve to sue him for breach of contract.  (According to Ms. Kitaen, Finley had promised to support her for the rest of her life -- did she think that promise held even if she decided to kick the crap out of him?)

Tawny Kitaen
Can you imagine the public outcry if a male country singer recorded a song about trashing a female's vehicle after catching her doing the dirty with another guy?  He would be absolutely crucified in the media.  Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, and the rest of the MSNBC blowhards would talk about nothing else for weeks.

But I don't recall the New York Times or Huffington Post pursing their editorial lips in disapproval of Carrie Underwood's glorification of violence and vigilantism when this song was released.  

I might as well shut up  -- I'm just wasting my breath.  There's no chance that a single female reader of this post is going to express agreement with my point of view.  

If you're a woman, tell the truth: didn't you hiss "The rotten b*stard deserved it!" sotto voce when you first heard "Before He Cheats" on the radio?  I thought so.

"Before He Cheats" was named the "Single of the Year" by the Country Music Association.  It is Carrie Underwood's biggest hit, and is the fourth-highest selling country music single of all time.  ("How Do You Like Me Now?!" was also a highly successful single.  Revenge songs are a good bet if you're a country singer looking to jumpstart your career.)

Here's the music video for "Before He Cheats":

Usually I put a link you can use to buy the featured song from Amazon at the end of my posts.  But I've got enough on my conscience without making money from the sale of "Before He Cheats."


  1. For a really off the wall free-association, how about that rarely heard Phil Spector production, "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)"?

  2. You ask: "If you're a woman, tell the truth: didn't you hiss "The rotten b*stard deserved it!" sotto voce when you first heard "Before He Cheats" on the radio?"

    ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! As a woman, I am insulted by this song. I don't appreciate the male double-standard, so I certainly don't appreciate a female one. What really gets me about this song is the glorification of violence to resolve a conflict. I mean, come one! If a guy (or girl) cheats, who wants him (or her) back? What is going to be resolved with violence? Does it make you feel better? Probably not, because now you're in trouble (theoretically) for vandalism and assault. In this song, there is no question of who did it because she "carved [her] name into his leather seats."

    Next on the list is blaming the girl the guy is with. First of all, is it considered if the "bleach-blonde" even knows the dude has a girlfriend? Even if the blonde does know, she is not the one going out with Underwood (assuming she is the actual narrator here); the guy is - he is the one who should be faithful. The blonde doesn't owe Underwood anything! So ladies, don't give me any of that "sisterhood" bull-shit because there is no such thing. That is as ideologically charged as the "American Dream." Women stab each other in the back for any and everything!

    The song also portrays the cheated-on woman as crazy, and not someone to be looked up to. What self-respect can someone have if they are going to get that worked up over someone cheating on them? Move on with you life! The popularity of this song ONLY demonstrates how pathetic most women really are when it comes to being broken hearted.

    I don't listen to this song, EVER! If it comes on the radio or TV, I turn it off. If it is played in some location, I move from within ear shot. If someone sings it at Karoke, I go outside until they're done, and then I find an opportunity to ask the singer later, "What was his name?" Without fail, they give a name! For awhile, I even boycotted radio stations that played this song, but I quickly ran out of them, so I had to settle for simply turning the song off.

    Currently, I am writing an essay in my MA program about this song. Believe me, it will not be flattering!

    1. I couldn't agree more with all your comments -- and I apologize for lumping you in with all the women who think what the singer did was just jim-dandy.