Photo: Simone Beyene

Emily Burns – Cheating On Her

“Once a cheater, always a cheater” is a common phrase, and Emily Burns unpacks this sentiment in her new single “Cheating On Her.” Relationships are not always pretty, and in “Cheating On Her,” Burns explores how the conflicting feelings of paranoia and love can co-exist between two people.

In media, cheating in relationships can appear romanticized, with steamy affairs being central plotlines or the betrayed party moving on to find themselves in the aftermath. It is not often that a story focuses on the happiness of the people who cheated following their decision. Those who have a strict moral code and write off anyone who cheats as a bad person might not connect with “Cheating On Her,” but Burns’ new single deftly points out that human beings are complicated and nuanced.

At the start of the song, Burns sings about being worried her partner could be cheating, and the quickness of her delivery reflects her paranoia.

You tell me that you’ll be home late / Look at me go through your phone / I never find any missteps / God, this is stupid, I know / You’re treating me good, treating me right, treating me great / It’s all in my head, all in my mind, all in my brain,” Burns sings in the first verse.

In the chorus, Burns reveals the reasoning behind the paranoia, that the partner in question cheated in a past relationship with the song’s narrator.

I know you cheated on her / But you cheated with me / And they say ‘what goes around, comes around,’ And I’m freaked that it’s comin’ for me,” Burns sings.

With the song’s repetitive but quiet synth production, there is no build to the revelation, and instead, the subject matter is treated as a matter of fact. “Cheating On Her” does not focus necessarily on guilt or remorse for taking part in an affair, as the lyrics show the narrator grappling with how karma and uncertainty affect her.

Adding to the song’s paranoia, “Cheating On Her” does not have a concrete resolution. Burns’ lyrics never confirm whether or not the narrator is being cheated on, and instead, she is left to wonder in circles if what happened to her partner’s ex will happen to her.

In the music video for “Cheating On Her,” Burns sits at a small desk and sings into a suspended microphone. The room surrounding Burns is dimly lit, and as she sings, she is surrounded by modern dancers embracing.

What stands out about “Cheating On Her” is Burns’ storytelling about a complex personal matter. Even if the message of the song isn’t something every listener can relate to, the emotions Burns explores in the song ask for empathy.