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*The copyright for the cover art for the album “Speak Now” by the artist Taylor Swift is believed to belong to the label Big Machine Records, or the graphic artist(s).


Taylor Swift

Album Speak Now

“Mean” is the sixth song from American singer, songwriter and musician Taylor Swift and her third album “Speak Now”. The country song was written by Swift, along with her co-producing the song with Nathan Chapman.

Swift wrote “Mean” as a response to music critic Bob Lefsetz, who wrote a scathing review on her 2010 Grammy performance of “Rhiannon” with Stevie Nicks. In the review, Lefsetz stated that Swift “can’t sing”, as well as claiming that the performance had ultimately “shortened her career”.

In the lyrics, Swift asks her critic: “why you gotta be so mean?”, and emphasises her future success, despite all the negative feedback from Lefsetz. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Swift confirmed the song’s inspiration:

“The things that were said about me by this dude, just floored me and like leveled me. And … I don’t have thick skin.”

In the end, it was Swift who had the final laugh, as “Mean” won her many awards:

  • In 2011, “Mean” won the Teen Choice Awards Choice Country Song.
  • In 2012, “Mean” won 2 BMI Awards: Publisher of the Year & Top 50 Songs. The song also won 2 Grammy Awards in the same year: Best Country Solo Performance Best Country Song. 

The music video was directed by Declan Whitebloom and uploaded to Swift’s official YouTube channel on the 13th May 2011. As of the end of June 2023, the video had a total of 219.7 million views.

Read the lyrics to “Mean” here. 

*All information accurate at the time of publishing (30th June 2023). 

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Release Date

13th March 2011


Taylor Swift


Taylor Swift, Nathan Chapman


Big Machine Records

Chart Rankings

In its year of release, "Mean" charted at: - #45 in Australia - #2 & #10 on various charts in Canada - #92 in South Korea - #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 - #2 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs

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