A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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