You can’t have wild, short-term dance club success and keep your reputation as an artist of substance at the same time. Taylor Swift must choose. And with “I Knew You Were Trouble”, Taylor chooses poorly. Her “trouble” is not an antagonist cast in the role of a video, or a previous lover who jilted her. It is the denizens of the pop industry who would sell her long-term substance for their short-term success.
To say the song “Mean” by Taylor Swift has legs is a the grossest of all understatements. Since Saving Country Music’s coverage of the song has been limited to the context of criticism and conjecture, I though I would lay out all the facts about the song once and for all to see if we can discern who “Mean” is about.
We were wrong about Taylor Swift. I was wrong about Taylor Swift. We were blinded by our prejudices. When Taylor Swift first came on to the scene, she sang cheesy teenage pop songs, and we chastised her for it, when she was doing what all the great songwriters did over the years: write what they knew about, what inspired them.
US intelligence officials are sifting through the new data looking for leads about what is left of Al Queda’s command and control structure. During the process, the CIA discovered one very curious bit of information that Osama Bin Laden believed American pop country star Taylor Swift’s recent country hit “Mean” was about him.
“Mean” might be the worst track on her Speak Now album. It is the most “country” song on the album, but it is not catchy, or clever, or well-crafted. Calling someone “Mean” is just such a base accusation. This isn’t punditry, it’s name calling. Maybe this song would have worked if she delved into the psychology of why people are mean, or even created some sympathy and understanding for her bullies. But instead she descends into the same “Mean” mentality herself…
Alright. So when I first listened to Taylor Swift’s new album Speak Now over two weeks ago, and heard for the first time the song “Mean,” I have to admit that it crossed my mind that the song might be about me. And not me as one Taylor Swift critic among many, but me, The Triggerman, the benevolent dictator of Saving Country Music, specifically.
But then I laughed off the idea and let it die. To think a song on Taylor’s album specifically targeted me seemed the utmost of conceit, and I was a little embarrassed for even letting my brain go there. And moreover, the thought of asserting this idea publicly seemed like the mother of all ego strokes.