And the song at No. 24 reveals that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, no matter how sweet-as-pie she may seem.
The nitpickers among you will probably take great pains to note that “Before He Cheats” is, like, so 2006. But Carrie Underwood’s ode to messing up her ex’s ride had a slow climb into the pop world, and I didn’t hear it until I caught the crime spree video late one night. The more exposure I got to it, though, the more I grew to appreciate its year-long reign on the pop charts; it combined minor-key, woman-scorned piano balladry, pitch-perfect lyrical details (that line about the cheater “dabbin’ on three dollars worth of that bathroom Polo” distilled every noxious thing about a certain type of sleaze into nine words), and Underwood’s voice–finally used in service of passion, and not Idol coronation-song puffery–into a country crossover hit that (for once!) didn’t have to be a mushy-ass ballad to get mainstream love.