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Mean is the sixth track of Taylor's third album Speak Now. It was released on October 25, 2010. It became a single on March 13, 2011.

Meaning and Background

"The song "Mean" is about, well, when you do what I do, which is you put yourself out there for a lot of people to say whatever they want about it, there are a million different opinions from a million different people. I get it that not everyone is going to like everything that you do, and I get that no matter what, you're going to be criticized for something. But I also get that there are different kinds of ways to criticize someone. There is constructive criticism. There's professional criticism. And then, there's just being mean. There's a line that you cross when you just start to attack everything about a person, and there's one guy who just crossed the line over and over again. Just being mean, and saying things that would ruin my day. This happens... no matter what you do, 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 about Mean[1]

The song is said to be specifically about critic Bob Lefsetz, who, following Taylor's performance with Stevie Nicks at the Grammys, said that Taylor can't sing, had killed her career and was too young and dumb to understand.

Trivia

Music Video

The music video was released on March 13, 2011. It was directed by Declan Whitebloom.

Storyline
The video starts with Taylor performing inside a theatre, playing on a banjo. The stage is decorated like a farm and Taylor and the band are dressed in vintage clothing. Between Taylor's performance, there are scenes of kids getting bullied. A teenage boy is getting pushed around by football players, who try to take a fashion magazine from him. Next, Taylor is put on a train rail with her arms and ankles tied while a man makes fun of her and drinks with a friend. In another scene, a girl is dressed as a star to promote a fast food restaurant so she can earn money for college. People around are making fun of her and throw food at her. Next, a young girl is seen wanting to sit with some other girls, but isn't allowed to because she has a different colored ribbon. Instead, she eats her lunch in the bathroom.

Taylor ends up performing on Broadway. The boy who was bullied for reading a fashion magazine has become a famous fashion designer. The fast food worker has now gone to college and is in an important position at her job. Taylor, who was tied up, easily removes the ropes now the guy and his friend are passed out drunk. The young girl who wasn't allowed to sit with the other girls, is in the audience of Taylor's show, applauding and smiling as she watches Taylor finish the song.

Trivia

  • The video stars actress Joey King.
  • When Taylor is performing at the farm, there's a direction sign to 'Willow'. Willow would later become the name of one of Taylor's singles.

Lyrics

[Verse 1]
You, with your words like knives
And swords and weapons that you use against me
You have knocked me off my feet again
Got me feeling like I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard
Calling me out when I'm wounded
You, picking on the weaker man

[Pre-Chorus]
Well, you can take me down
With just one single blow
But you don't know what you don't know

[Chorus]
Someday, I'll be living in a big old city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

[Verse 2]
You, with your switching sides
And your wildfire lies and your humiliation
You have pointed out my flaws again
As if I don't already see them
I walk with my head down, trying to block you out
'Cause I'll never impress you
I just wanna feel okay again

[Pre-Chorus]
I bet you got pushed around
Somebody made you cold
But the cycle ends right now
'Cause you can't lead me down that road
And you don't know what you don't know

[Chorus]
Someday, I'll be living in a big old city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?

[Bridge]
And I can see you years from now in a bar
Talking over a football game
With that same big loud opinion
But nobody's listening
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing
But all you are is mean
All you are is mean
And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life
And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean

[Breakdown]
But someday, I'll be living in a big old city
And all you're ever gonna be is mean, yeah

[Chorus]
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?
Someday, I'll be living in a big old city
(Why you gotta be so mean?)
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
(Why you gotta be so mean?)
Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
(Why you gotta be so mean?)
And all you're ever gonna be is mean
Why you gotta be so mean?


Awards & Nominations

Year Organization Award Result
2011 Country Music Association Awards Song of the Year Nominated
Music Video of the Year Nominated
MTV Video Music Awards Best Video with a Social Message Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Country Song Won
2012 Academy of Country Music Awards Video of the Year Nominated
American Country Awards Female Single of the Year Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Country Solo Performance Won
Best Country Song Won

Videos

References