The song also appeared on the Australian Singles Chart at number forty-five. It was later re-released as the third official single from Speak Now, and re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number ninety. Additionally, "Mean" became Swift's thirteenth consecutive single to reach top ten on Hot Country Songs when it jumped from number 12 to number 9 on the week ending May 14, 2011. This achievement makes Swift as one of the two women (the other being Carrie Underwood) to begin their chart histories with as many consecutive top 10s dating to the survey's 1944 launch. The song's accompanying music video was directed by Declan Whitebloom, who developed the concept together with Swift. Upon release, 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.
Taylor Swift "Mean" Song
In an exclusive interview with E! News as part of an ongoing series leading up to the release of her third studio album, Speak Now, Swift expressed that "Mean" is a response to people who constantly criticize whatever she does. She said, "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." In another interview with Dose.ca, Swift revealed that she wrote the song to get back at her critics, saying "there's a song called 'Mean,' that I guess you could categorize it into feelings and or relationships but it's actually about a critic." Swift also wished that the song would appeal to people of all ages in different situations. She continued, "this happens no matter what you do, no matter how old you are, no matter what your job is, no matter what your place is in life, there's always gonna be someone who's just mean to you. And dealing with that is all that you can control, how you handle it. This song is about how I handle it." In NBC's 2010 Thanksgiving Special, Swift indicated that this song was about feeling small because of somebody else. She said, "there are certain things that make me feel better. One of them is writing songs, and the other is having people around that I really love. Some of them are my band." It was released to country radio as the third single on March 14, 2011. Two exclusive packages were released to Swift's official store one included a T-shirt, an individually-numbered "Mean" CD single and an autographed lithograph. This package is no longer available. The other package (which is still available) has just the T-shirt and CD single. Only 2,500 copies of the CD single were made.
The accompanying music video for "Mean" was directed by Declan Whitebloom. It was shot over two days in Los Angeles, with the Orpheum Theatre serving as its backdrop. The concept of the video was developed by both Swift and Whitebloom, who praised Swift's commitment and involvement with the production of the music video. In an interview with MTV News, Whitebloom said that "Mean" is very personal to Swift because lyrically it's about a critic who was a little too harsh on her. However, he added that people can relate to its message, saying "We all have similar stories in our life that hit similar emotional cues, and to open it up and make it broader about lots of people and situations .. makes it much more accessible." Whitebloom described the video as vignettes that feature scenes from all different time periods, from vaudevillian scenes to scenes resembling O Brother, Where Art Thou?. He also stated that the video was inspired by Swift's performance at the 46th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. Child star Joey King is featured in the video. Prior to the release of the video, Jocelyn Vena of MTV predicted that the video of "Mean" will be "a honky-tonk-type performance video, in which [Swift] and her band have a little fun at someone's expense." The music video premiered on Country Music Television on May 6, 2011, at 22:00 EST (03:00 UTC).
"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 Billboard's 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 eleven 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 following week, the song fell off the chart. On the weeking ending November 6, 2010, the song also debuted on Hot Country Songs at number fifty-five. Upon its release as an official single, "Mean" re-entered Billboard Hot 100 at number 90. It also re-entered the Hot Country Songs at number 17, two weeks upon its release as a single. On the week ending May 14, 2011, Swift made a record when "Mean" jumped from number 12 to number 9 on the Hot Country Songs, becoming her thirteenth consecutive top ten hits on the chart. This achievement made Swift as one of the two women (the other being Carrie Underwood) to begin their chart histories with as many consecutive top 10s dating to the survey's 1944 launch. It peaked at #2 in June, having been blocked from #1 by Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee." 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 the Canadian Hot 100 and peaked at number ten. It also made an appearance on the Australian Singles Chart at number forty-five on the week ending November 7, 2010., On May 17 2011 , Mean was certified Gold by the RIAA for shipments of 500,000.
The video begins with Swift and her band playing a banjo, all dressed in vintage-inspired clothes. The stage is set up like a front yard of a farmhouse. Then, Swift is shown being tied to the tracks by a villain, similar to the song's artwork. The villain and his friend laugh as she sits there helpless. However, Swift and the others are hardly the only victims in the video. A montage of Swift plucking away at her banjo is shown alternately throughout the video with scenes of a boy being bullied while reading a fashion magazine in a locker room by the football team and a girl, wearing a fast-food uniform, who is being made fun of by her peers. Another cut-scene shows a girl who is not allowed to sit with the popular clique at lunch and is forced to eat in the school bathroom. The next scene shows that the stage is transformed into a ritzy nightclub, with the singer all dazzled up in a sparkly flapper gown performing in the big leagues. It is revealed that the boy reading the fashion magazine is now a famous fashion designer; the fast food girl saves up for college and is a big-time executive. The final scene shows the other girl sitting as an audience watching and applauding as Swift finishes performing.
The music video was met with mixed reviews from the critics. Story Gilmore of Neon Limelight perceived the clip to be "adorable", while Amanda Lynne of Gather.com was not disappointed with the video and thought that Swift delivered once again. The Huffington Post called the video as effective that puts Swift alongside the underdogs and dreamers. Daily Mail praised the theme of the video which is about self-empowerment clip, writing "her new video for her upcoming single Mean depicts how young people picked on at school rise up and become successful later in life." The same opinion was echoed by Jocelyn Vena of MTV who wrote that the video "is the latest entry in an avalanche of empowering clips, which we've seen from artists like Katy Perry ("Firework") and Pink ("Raise Your Glass")." Ashley Iasimone of Taste of Country complimented Swift's looks in the video which corresponded with the video's art direction. She concluded that "it's difficult to not feel as empowered as superstar Swift. In a different perspective, Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly thought that the message in the music video was confusing, writing "Is she really equating a professional critic questioning her ability to sing at an awards show to getting bullied because you’re different?" Donna Kaufman of IVillage also felt the mixed messages in the video, stating "the video doesn't show Swift being bullied...Instead, she's a kind of savior to the outsider kids, who are all shallow stereotypes."