Cue the banjos! On Taylor Swift’s “Mean,” the latest track to be released from Speak Now, she not-so-subtly takes aim at her critics.
Swift isn’t backing down on the twangy track, the third to be released before her third album, Speak Now, officially drops on Monday (October 25). She sings about how she plans to overcome her critics’ takedowns, and how one day they will end up being bitter about their own lives because of their descent into irrelevance.
“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 nothing/ You with your voice like nails on a chalkboard calling me out when I’m wounded/ You picking on the weaker man,” she sings, her vocals embracing the song’s country feel.
When the chorus kicks in, she sings, “Someday I’ll be living in a big old city/ And all you’ll ever gonna be is mean/ Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me/ And all you’ll ever gonna be is mean/ Why you gotta be so mean?”
On the tune, co-produced by her Speak Now collaborator Nathan Chapman, she also addresses criticisms she received after her Grammy performance earlier this year. “Drunken grumbling on about how I can’t sing / But all you are is mean/ And a liar/ And pathetic/ And alone in life/ And mean,” she sings.
The cover art for the single features Swift dressed as a damsel in distress, tied to the railroad tracks with a mustachioed villain standing over her. Swift told E! that “Mean” was inspired by those who decide to cross the line. “When you do what I do, which is you put yourself out there for a lot of people to say whatever they want … there are a million different opinions,” she explained.
“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,” she continued. “There’s constructive criticism, there’s professional criticism — and then there’s just being mean. And there’s a line that you cross when you just start to attack everything about a person.”
Whether or not “Mean” is the next single from Speak Now is up to Swift’s fans . “Every single decision we’ve made as far as what song to come with next has been based on the fans’ passion level toward that song,” Taylor told MTV News.