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Taylor Swift - Mean

Official Cover Art

Mean is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift for her third studio album, Speak Now (2010). It was written by Swift, who produced the song alongside Nathan Chapman. The song was sent to country radio in the United States on March 13, 2011, as the third single from Speak Now. "Mean" garnered mixed to positive reviews from critics for its lyrical detail and profound country sound. The song received commercial success in the United States and Canada, debuting at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number ten on the Canadian Hot 100. The song also appeared on the Australian Singles Chart at number 45.

The song's accompanying music video was directed by Declan Whitebloom, who developed the concept together with Swift. It received mixed reviews from critics who perceived ambivalent messages in the video, despite the prevalent self-empowerment and anti-bullying themes. "Mean" was performed for the first time by Swift at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on April 3, 2011. The song won the Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards. The magazine The Rolling Stone ranked Mean #24 on their list of the 100 greatest country songs of all time.

Chart performance

"Mean" was released as a promotional single from Speak Now on October 19, 2010, as part of Countdown to Speak Now, an exclusive campaign by the iTunes Store. Upon its release as a promotional single, "Mean" debuted at number two on the Hot Digital Songs with approximately 163,000 downloads, which led to its appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending October 30, 2010. "Mean" debuted and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Swift the first act to claim the chart's top debut (Hot Shot Debut) in three successive weeks. The song fell off the chart the following week when Speak Now was released, a victim of iTunes' Complete My Album scheme where the costumers returned their early purchased tracks from Speak Now to upgrade to a full album purchase. On the week ending November 6, 2010, the song also debuted on Hot Country Songs at number 55. Upon its release as an official single, "Mean" re-entered Billboard Hot 100 at number 90 and number 17 on the Hot Country Songs. On the week ending May 14, 2011, Swift made a record when "Mean" jumped from number 12 to number nine on Hot Country Songs, becoming her 13th consecutive Top Ten hit on that chart. It made Swift one of two women (Carrie Underwood) to begin their chart histories with 13 consecutive Top Tens dating to the survey's 1944 launch. It peaked at number two for three weeks in June, behind Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee", but it reached number one on the Mediabase / Country Aircheck Country Singles Chart on July 28, 2011. On the week ending August 14, 2011, "Mean" became Swift's 13th song to sell more than one million copies which is more than any other country artist in digital history. The song was number 24 on the Billboard Year-end Country Songs chart for 2011. It was certified triple platinum by the RIAA in August 2014. As of November 2014, "Mean" has sold 2.3 million copies in the United States.

Critical reception

The song garnered mixed to positive reviews from music critics. Mandi Bierly of Entertainment Weekly praised the production of the song, writing "[the song] is a nice touch: It brings a sincerity to her pain and lets you focus on the words, which do, near the end, turn cheeky (proving she handles it with a sense of humor)." Theon Weber from The Village Voice described the song as "huge and hugely compassionate, and fearless" and lauded it for being "chipper and funny because the narrator is predicting escape from someone she dislikes: "Some day, I'll be living in a big ole city/And all you're ever gonna be is mean." Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe graded the production of the song as "A", complimenting the message of the song which "articulates the distinction between honesty and cruelty so well." On the other hand, Jonathan Keefe from Slant Magazine lambasted the song for its lyrical content, writing "instead of actually doing something to improve on her inability to find or hold pitch consistently, Swift has simply written a song about how it's 'mean' for people to point out that problem." The song has won at the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance.

Prior to the official release of the song as a single, digital sales accounted for "Mean"'s appearance on international charts. In Canada, the song entered and peaked at number ten.[37] It also made an appearance in Australia at number 45 on the week ending November 7, 2010.