"Mean" (CD Single)

Music review by
Jessica Dawson, Common Sense Media
"Mean" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Popular with kids
Age-appropriate anthem for kids who've been bullied.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 33 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Chances are, those who bully have been bullied themselves. One day you'll be a strong person and they'll still be bitter: ""I bet you got pushed around, somebody made you cold, but the cycle ends
right now, you can't lead me down that road, cuz you don't know what
you don't know."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Song shows you can rise above bullying, unkind words, and realize that those people have the problem, not you: "Someday, I'll be big enough so you can't hit me, and all you're ever gonna be is mean."


Some talk of using words like weapons: "You, with your words like knives, and swords and weapons that you use against me" and "You can take me down with one single blow."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Talks about the bitter bully being drunk in a bar someday, still being mean.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this single is about being bullied, and is autobiographical for Swift. It's an inspiring anthem for anyone who has ever been picked on to rise above it and realize that one day their life will be bigger and better, and that those bullies will always just be "mean." Like other Swift songs, the lyrics are clean; the references to bullying aren't graphic. Bullying is a relevant and touchy topic for tweens and teens, so this song offers a great opportunity to talk about the many ways kids can hurt each other and ways to prevent and deal with it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGabriel Mohler August 3, 2015

Excellent for everyone

Everything about this song is wonderful and can be applied to any age.
Adult Written bysummer221 November 26, 2014

Taylor Swift Mean

i give it a ***** star rating
Kid, 11 years old September 12, 2020

Insightful take on bullying

This tune goes beyond the usual smackdown on bullies: it explains why people are bullies. Bullies are portrayed as people who have been bullied themselves, and... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 25, 2018

Strong message

This song makes me feel good. It talks about how bullies think they’re so much better than you when actually it’s the other way around. At the moment they might... Continue reading

What's the story?

Spunky country sweetheart Taylor Swift gets back at anyone who has ever picked on someone in "MEAN," a banjo-driven single from her third album, Speak Now. Like most of her self-written songs, this one touches on personal experience, letting Swift get the last word. With lyrics like "someday I'll be living in a big ol' city, and all you're ever gonna be is mean," Swift shows kids that it's better to take the high road with bullies and know that their lives are not defined by someone's cruel comments.

Is it any good?

Don't cross Taylor Swift -- she may write about it in a song that could end up winning a Grammy. It's unclear if "Mean" is about any ex-boyfriend in Tinsel Town per se, but it is (according to the singer) about a "boy from the past who crossed the line over and over just by being mean." It's more country than Swift's other singles, but full of the same vulnerability, honesty, and a little bit of fierceness that make all of her songs relatable and relevant for tweens and teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be bullied. Have you ever been bullied? How did you feel? How did you deal with it?

  • Have you ever witnessed someone else being bullied? What can you do in those situations? Should you tell a parent or grown-up?

  • The lyrics "I bet you got pushed around, somebody made you feel cold,

  • but the cycle ends right now, you can't lead me down that road, because

  • you don't know what you don't know." What do you think this means? How

  • can the cycle of bullying be broken?

Music details

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