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Mean by Taylor Swift

Album: Speak NowReleased: 2010Charted:
11
  • This twangy track finds Taylor taking aim at her critics. Taylor told Entertainment News: "When you do what I do, which is you put yourself out there for a lot of people to say whatever they want, there's a million different opinions."

    "I get that, no matter what, you're going to be criticized for something," she added. "But I also get that there are different kinds of ways to criticize someone. There's constructive criticism, there's professional criticism - and then there's just being mean. And there's a line that you cross when you just start to attack everything about a person."
  • The song alludes at least in part to Swift's off key performance of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" with Stevie Nicks at the 2010 Grammy Awards. A number of pundits laid into her saying she was badly off-key and couldn't sing, but the specific review that got her blood boiling came from Bob Lefsetz, who wrote in his Lefsetz Letter: "did Taylor Swift kill her career overnight? I'll argue she did. In one fell swoop, Taylor Swift consigned herself to the dustbin of teen phenoms... Taylor's too young and dumb to understand the mistake she made."

    Faced with such stinging words, you can understand why towards the end of this song, Taylor sings: "And I can see you year from now in a bar talking over a football game/With that same big loud opinion, but no one's listening/Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things/Drunk and talking all about how I... can't... sing."
  • The music video broadens the song's message to make it relate to school kids who are bullied or mistreated for being different. We see a boy reading a fashion magazine among the football players in the locker room, and a girl wearing blue instead of pink.
  • Taylor admits that she has a thin skin and can't just brush off criticism. She wrote on her website: "No matter how old you are, no matter what your job is, no matter what your place is in life. There's always going to be someone who's just mean to you. Dealing with that is all you can control about that situation, how you handle it. 'Mean' is about how I handle it, and sort of my mind set about this whole situation."
  • Taylor discussed dealing with criticism of her voice in an interview with Parade Magazine: "Some days I'm fine and I can just brush it off and go about my day, but some days it absolutely levels me. All I can do is continue to try to work hard every single day and feel everything. I think it's important to feel things because I then write songs about that. The whole idea of being criticized and the fact that that entered my life made for a song that I'm very proud of on the record called 'Mean.'"
  • The song debuted at #11 on the Hot 100 dated November 6, 2010. This meant that Taylor became the first act to claim the chart's Hot Shot Debut, awarded to the list's highest new entry, in three successive weeks. Its premier arrival followed those of "Speak Now" (#8) and "Back to December" (#6).
  • The song's music video was directed by Declan Whitebloom and shot over two days in Los Angeles, with the Orpheum Theatre serving as its backdrop. It features scenes from different time periods, and was inspired by Swift's performance at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. The director told MTV News: "Everyone was vintage in a way. The whole thing has a period feel. But Taylor, I don't know, it all started with her and the actual performance. She did a performance on the ACMs ... and she wanted to bring that into [this video]. We just brought the two-dimensional scene from the CD cover and the country [awards and] made those 3-D. We brought those to life. I think because Taylor is so timeless in a way, her look, she really embodies that sort of 1920s, 1930s look so well. She is absolutely flawless and gorgeous."
  • After this song got nominated for CMA trophy for Song of the Year, Taylor told the Associated Press that this lighthearted response to her critics is really close to her heart. She explained. "It's a song that I wrote on a really, really bad day, but it has produced so many happy days for me since."
  • Swift took home Grammys for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for this cut. "Thank you to anyone who voted for this song," said Taylor as she accepted the latter award at the 2012 ceremony. "I want to thank [Big Machine Records President] Scott Borchetta for believing in this song. When we put it out as a single, people said, 'Really? You're gonna do it?' But my label stood by it, and country radio played it a lot. This is unbelievable!"
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Comments: 12

I hate this song. Whenever we were fighting and this song came on the radio, my mom used to say that it described me perfectly.Kirsten - Kalamazoo, Mi
First time I ever heard this song was at my Daughter's talent show in her 4th grade class. One of her classmates sang along with this song and not only did it catch my attention, it was like a gun was pointed at my head. The song deals with bullies in school and perhaps in life. But I see the song in a different way. I feel it is a young child who is reminding her parent that one day she'll be too big for spankings or for yelling. If your a parent who has a child that you sometimes have trouble relating to, or you spank, listen to this song again. It will change your whole way of relating to the child who is growing up and one day will decide to live in the big ole' city and you'll understand you run the risk of losing her love and trust. It was all I could do not to cry watching a 9 year old girl sing a song that could only make me think I'm doing this wrong and need to change before it's too late. Love this song Taylor.Lou - Omaha, Ne
I really love this song. It's stuck in my head.Novneet - Tauranga, New Zealand
I don't like Taylor's songs all that much because they are sappy, but this is great!Star - Bestrolls.webs.com, Ga
Kayla it's stupid to post your 'mean' comment for a song that's all about people being mean. Get over yourself! By the way keep your wrong opinion to yourself!!Hayley - Not Tellin, Hi
"15 Year old girl holds hands with her 1 year old son. People call her a "slut", no one knows she was raped at 13. People call another guy "fat". No one knows he has a serious disease causing him to be overweight. People call an old man "ugly". No one knew he had a serious injury to his face while fighting for your country in the war. Re-post this if you are against bullying and stereotyping. I bet 89% of you wont."Hayley - Not Tellin, Hi
Taylor Swift would write a song like this! Get over yourself! These lyrics are just like her "Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me".. really? Sooo conceited! I really can't stand her! The only reason I looked this song up is because there is a play in my city going on right now where a guy sings this song because he's being bullied in the play and he actually does a good job with it. Her version, I can't stand! Blah!!Kayla - Winnipeg, Mb
I sing, and my 6-year-daughter does, too. My 8-year-old daughter and my husband, however, do not (they CAN...they just don't). However, whenever this song comes on, all 4 of us sing as loud as we can, "all you are is mean, and a liar, and pathetic, and a lonely life, and mean, and mean..." The first time he heard this song, my husband was aghast: "Did she just sing, 'pathetic'?" We all love this song and the message it conveys.Karen - Manchester, Nh
15 Year old girl holds hands with her 1 year old son. People call her a "slut", no one knows she was raped at 13. People call another guy "fat". No one knows he has a serious disease causing him to be overweight. People call an old man "ugly". No one knew he had a serious injury to his face while fighting for your country in the war. Re-post this if you are against bullying and stereotyping. I bet 89% of you wont.Kaytlynne - Broken Arrow, Ok
ive been made fun of my whole life because of my looks. it just says im going to get somewhere in life. i now have more friends than i can deal with. and those people are slowly fading into school life and not being noticed. that is why i love this song it says a meaning.Kaytlynne - Broken Arrow, Ok
15 Year old girl holds hands with her 1 year old son. People call her a "slut", no one knows she was raped at 13. People call another guy "fat". No one knows he has a serious disease causing him to be overweight. People call an old man "ugly". No one knew he had a serious injury to his face while fighting for your country in the war. Re-post this if you are against bullying and stereotyping. I bet 89% of you wont.Kaytlynne - Broken Arrow, Ok
I love this song. People have been mean to me all my life, and this puts it into perspective. Thank you, Ms. Swift!Fabio - New Orleans, La