Taylor Swift created an anti-bullying anthem called “Mean”. She penned the song reaching out to a critic who wrote foul things about her. Today, the hit song helps kids all across the world to stand up to the bullies that try to push them around.
“Mean” is within Taylor Swift’s 2010 album, Speak Now. Swift took home the Grammys for Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for this cut. She confesses that she has a thin skin and cannot just take criticism for granted. Her exact words on her website were,
“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.”
What Critics Say
“Mean” reaped both positive and negative reviews from critics for its lyrical detail and weighty country sound. Matt Bjorke of Roughstock remarked that the song is the most ‘country’ with an extremely down-home, almost bluegrass sound Taylor has ever recorded. In addition, Jon Caramanica from The New York Times observed the song’s rootsy sound. Theon Weber of The Village Voice, Jill Serjeant from Billboard, and Ann Powers of Los Angeles Times said one thing. As the song is made of handclaps, amiable banjo strums, and multi-tracked Taylor Swifts, it addresses those who question Swift’s ability to sing.
“Mean” blows critics by asserting that someday “she will be livin’ in a great big city” while the critics will “be drunk in some dive bar, talking over a football game”. On the other hand, Jonathan Keefe from Slant Magazine criticized the song for its lyrical content. He viewed that instead of actually doing something to recover on her incapacity to find or hold pitch steadily, Swift has simply written a song about how it is “mean” for people to point out that problem. Well, whatever it is, Swift has a whole lot of reasons why she still made this song.
The Bigger Picture
Taylor Swift reiterated the differences between constructive and professional criticism in this song. Anything other than that, she labels as being mean. Once you cross the line between the two types of positive criticism and start to attack someone either with verbally or physically, you are being mean. “Mean” was written for someone who attacked her performance with Stevie Nicks at the 52nd Grammy Awards, where she sang off-key.
Additionally, the song lyrics replicate the issue of bullying, which is evident in its lyrics. As much as Taylor plugs out many people, particularly bullies, the song also became part of the anti-bullying campaigns for schools everywhere. It brings genuineness to her pain and lets you focus on the words. Of course, near the end, it turns bold, with a little sense of humor. Taylor Swift simply wants everyone to know that whenever someone says something about what you do, and you know you are right, stand up for it.
The song was also nominated for CMA Awards 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.”
Once you hear the song, I hope it does the same to you, too.