Taylor Swift takes on a bully (and John Mayer?) on new album

taylor-swiftImage Credit: John Shearer/WireImage.comAfter showing some remorse (and apologizing to Taylor Lautner?) on the track “Back to December,” the latest song from Taylor Swift’s upcoming album Speak Now to hit iTunes, “Mean,” has her once again the wronged party. As she explains in this video preview, “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… 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.” The track’s bluegrass vibe (banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and harmonies) 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): “But all you are is mean/All you are is mean/And a liar, and pathetic, and alone in life/And mean, and mean, and mean, and mean.” The song also seems at least partly directed toward people who’ve questioned her singing ability. “And I can see you years from now in a bar/Talking over a football game/With that same big loud opinion but nobody’s listening/Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things/Drunk and grumbling on about how I can’t sing.” (Okay, that wasn’t exactly veiled.)

Another track, “Dear John,” which has yet to hit iTunes, is also making headlines. Writing for Our Country, the Y! Music Country Blog, EW contributor Chris Willman is confident that the track confirms her rumored relationship and breakup with John Mayer. He points to the first chorus: “Dear John/I see it all now that you’re gone/Don’t you think I was too young/To be messed with/The girl in the dress/Cried the whole way home/I should’ve known.” And a second version of the chorus that includes the lines: “It was wrong/Don’t you think nineteen’s too young/To be played/By your dark, twisted games/When I loved you so.” He also notes these lyrics: “My mother accused me of losing my mind/But I swore I was fine…” and “You’ll add my name to your long list of traitors who don’t understand/And I’ll look back in regret I ignored what they said/’Run as fast as you can’.” Just reading those, you understand why Willman claims we’ll be cheering when Swift sings, “I’m shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town.” It’s nice to see someone turn the tables on Mr. Overshare, isn’t it? Who else can’t wait to hear that track? (Willman says it’s six and a half minutes long.)

More on the Music Mix:
Taylor Swift apologizes (to Taylor Lautner?) in ‘Back to December’
Rihanna tells EW about her high-tech new video, a possible duet with Katy Perry, and the most personal song on her new album
Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair’ video: Watch it here
Ingrid Michaelson’s “Parachute” video premiere
Beastie Boys reveal updated ‘Hot Sauce Committee’ title, release plan

Comments (95 total) Add your comment
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  • Saracen Riggins

    No offense to Ms. Swift (or defense to Mr. Mayer, fo that matter – though I’m a huge fan), but she should have known what she was getting herself into with that one. IF it is even true…

    • Carrie #2

      Agreed, and also, I love your screen name!! Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. :)

    • Ally

      I agree- plus it’s a little creepy- a 19 year old and a 33 yr old? What was she thinking?

      • helly

        well, like every girl at her age, when a guy that mature starts taking interest in you, makes you feel more grown up and interesting, I guess. though I’m curious IF it is true, what did he see in her?

      • DJ

        She wasn’t thinking. Nineteen is still “teen”. What was HE thinking?

      • Reality

        DJ, I can pretty much guarantee what he was thinking.

      • GG

        Agree with DJ – what was HE thinking? But then again, we know he’s a jerk and doesn’t think at all.

      • sally

        I agree with DJ too. She was only 19, he is in his 30’s. What was HE thinking. I love that Taylor isn’t afraid of putting it all in song though and naming names. More artists should do that. lol

      • Nathan

        People who have to ask what a then 32 year old guy who talks about nothing but sex with ex-girlfriends was doing with a 19 year old girl need to get their brains checked. We all know what he was thinking and he apparently got it. She is now pissed and mad that that’s all he wanted. Please, 19 is not that young and everyone knows about John Mayer, he didn’t hide his stripes.

    • Art

      The first time I heard “Half of My Heart” with her singing harmony my only thought was “Oh no. He slept with that little girl.”

      • ooo

        good lord, people are making leaps without knowing a single thing about the situation. he could have spurned her advances, they could have gone on one little date, we do not know anything! its between two people (it might not even be about mayer, b/c last time i checked, john was a pretty common name!)

      • Shannon

        I certainly hope not.

      • Michael

        I agree with ooo. For one thing, Taylor Swift promised to save herself from what I’ve heard, and another thing, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be about someone named John. I know she names names like Cory, Drew, and Stephen, but in this case, it could simply just be about any guy she’s writing to to break up with.

    • wakeforce

      We know Taylor loves to play the victim. She is likeJennifer Aniston. The one common denominator in her failed relationships is her. Now go write a song about that!

      • Chris

        She did … check out Back to December

    • Adelina

      of Cortijada Los Ge1zquez and the Joya: arte + ecologeda rdeisency/opportunity, Gill Nicol of Lights Going On has created another post on her fantastic web site in support of our AGUAZERO award. Joya: arte +

  • Susan

    How do we know for a fact that it’s about John Mayer?

  • Brenda Barrett

    What is the power that big-eyed goon (Mayer)holds over women? I can tell you that I’ve seen him up close and personal and find him absolutely creepy.

    • Jasper Jax

      Funny, Brenda, I feel the exact same way about Sonny Corinthos.

      • Brenda Barrett


      • Carly Corinthos Jacks

        I feel the exact same way about both Brenda and Sonny.

    • asimplekindoffree

      Mayer is hot! Just go under yahoo images and type in his name and tell me when he is holding a guitar with no shirt on that he is not drop dead sexy! tell me that… He is even better looking up close and personal.

  • jpratm

    i dont think it about mayer- it may be a general DEAR JOHN DOE ? just saying

  • mary q contrary

    Don’t know if it’s about John Mayer, I guess it could be. That being said, did anyone else read Willman’s piece? I read it yesterday, and I was just really kind of bothered by Swift’s willingness to explain the meaning behind each and every song, down to which words are clues to who they’re about. I mean, seriously, it’s like she started each explanation with, “Well, there was this guy…..”. I just don’t buy that she’s had as many under-the-radar relationships as she wants us to believe. And if she has, well, the girl obviously crushes and forms romantic notions about people WAY too easily. Personally, I think a lot of these songs are purely fictional, not steeped in reality whatsoever. I think she gained a reputation for writing songs about real life and this is just an attempt to maintain that.

  • Allie

    i don’t think it matters who the song is about. i do agree with the first post though

  • PDT

    Did this so-called “gifted songwriter” really fill a chorus up with the word “mean” four times in a row? How epic.

    • Nan

      Now don’t accuse me of comparing her to The Beattles, but I don’t think that repetition is necessarily a bad thing. It worked quite well in “Hey Jude.” The song, however, could suck for many other reasons.

      • Silly B

        I HATE the ending of “Hey Jude”! How many times do they have to say “la la la lalala lalala Hey Jude”?!?

      • Nan

        Fair enough. Many people like the song. I think my larger point was that the Beattles wouldn’t be considered bad song writers for employing repetition in a song. (Again, I am not saying that Taylor Swift=The Beattles.)

      • Rich

        WOW. Never EVER put “Taylor Swift” and “Hey Jude” in the same sentence. Taylor doesn’t even belong in the same galaxy.

        WOW. WOW. WOW WOW WOW WOW. (That was for you TS fans…)

    • Shannon

      Are you referring to what’s quoted in the review? Because it’s made clear that that’s the end of the song.
      “Mean” is the title, so she echoes it for effect and throws in a few extra insults for kicks.
      Look, I don’t think the girl’s an outstanding writer, but she’s a natural one seems to have the soul of one. Self-expression doesn’t appear to be something she struggles with.
      Even if you completely hate her music, you have to give her credit for at least writing it herself and never making
      references to her “lovely lady lumps” or anything of the sort.
      There’s actually some thought that goes into it.

  • patty

    I am a huge Taylor fan but if the rumor is true, she should have known what she was getting herself into. Yet again, sometimes when you see someone that is older, famous, and more than likely charming in person, it is hard to resist. She obviously has learned her lesson.
    By the way, I love her new song Mean. I would really like to dedicate that song to a fellow coworker of mine that is the most hateful human being I have encountered. I will never forget the day he made fun of a sweet older lady dying of cancer. Jared, you suck!

  • justinK

    I don’t get her. I don’t get why she is popular. and I can’t believe that people LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that you can pretty much put a name to every person that she “sings” about- It’s like talking about somebody without using their name but everybody knows who you are talking about so just say their name- If you’re going to write songs about your failed love life- JUST SAY JOE JONAS, TAYLOR LAUTNER, JOHN MAYER- in your songs- go ahead and put the last name in there.

    I’m so tired of this strange-eyed giraffe.

    • Ninja

      Then do not listen to her. If you do not care for her, then why did you click on this story to read?? I mean I do not care for Lady Gaga so therefor I just don’t listen to her or read anything about her. It’s pretty simple to do.

      • ger

        My name is Ninja. I live in a bubble of only things I like. I can’t handle someone who disagrees with me. Please write a song about me, too!

    • Phil

      And apparently if you replace those LOVEs with the word MEAN, she may record your post as a song too! haha

      • Tag

        Copyright that immediately and make sure your get your share of the revenue.

    • Jean Genie

      I’m with Justin & Ger – Taylor is getting more & more annoying.

  • Phil

    IF the song is indeed about John Mayer, I’d be interested to know the actual timing of said relationship since I’d assume it was when John was recording “Battle Studies” which was released a year ago, and thats how he got Taylor to sing background vocals on “Half of My Heart”, which ultimately could’ve been more than background vocals, but when they were mixing the album, their relationship was already done. And I am a huge Mayer fan, I think he’s pretty wicked funny…but agree with everyone else here saying she shoulda known what she was getting into with him. Tons of women throw themselves at him, yet he always goes for the Hollywood celebs, and then winds up breaking their hearts.

    • July

      on February 6, 2009 Great post. Killer headline sukced me right in.I thought your comments were insightful, and I think the strategy you mention makes a lot of sense. Many in the mom and dad generation are just getting to the table in terms of social media but really love the idea that they are hip enough to get it.

      • Ajay

        Some people lift their nose on pop music beuacse compared to say, a Mozart piece it is much easier to play.But it is not playing a famous pop song that is difficult, it is creating one that will loved by millions of people and that will play in dozen of countries for decades.Maybe you can play ” Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple on your guitar, but can you write such a hit?Paul McCartney’s ” Yesterday” is musically simple but it takes a form of genius to write such a hit, a song that is one of the most or THE most famous on the planet.A different kind of genius than Mozart or Chopin had, but genius none the less.Composing pop music that people will love is no more easy than composing any other kind of music.Ok I’m a musician, but this must make sense to non-musicians …right?

  • Jenny

    LMAO. I love how she pretty much gives a big FU to the haters…she’s laughing all the way to the bank. Hahaha love the attitude Taylor. I will be buying your album next week!!! I hope you have a huge opening week.

  • JT

    First off, she has no one to blame but herself for getting involved with John. Seriously. Everyone in the world knows he’s a player. So, she needs to take a little responsibility for herself. Secondly, I’m not trying to be mean, but she can’t carry a tune. Every show I’ve seen her perform on she is wildly out of tune. She certainly seems nice and can pen some good lyrics, but she can’t sing.

    • Mimi

      She was 19…he (33!!!) is the one at fault. No 33 year old should be shtupping a 19 year old CHILD in my opinion and then blaming the CHILD for the break-up. My gosh, we don’t even allow 19 year olds to drink alcohol because they are not mature enough to handle the responsibility — and you think that a 19 year old is mature enough to see/recognize the lying monster Mayer as a creep before getting involved with him? Women twice her age (2x her age is ONLY 38) have been tricked by him.

      He’s a slimeball. He needs to stop hanging around the playground for his latest victim.

      • mary q contrary

        I couldn’t even get past the second sentence. 19-year-olds are NOT children. That’s ridiculous.

      • Jean Genie

        Just like Britney used to sing, she’s “not that innocent”, even if the fanbots like to see Taylor as some sweet little lamb.

      • Nathan

        Sorry 19 year olds are NOT children, they are adults. We have 18 and 19 year old men and women right now fighting in wars. We have 18 and 19 year old married women with children. Taylor Swift is a very savvy business woman and knows exactly what sells. She is not that innocent and knew what John Mayer was all about but thought she was too special for him to ‘hit it and quit it’.

      • wakeforce

        So, according to Mimi, a 19 year-old who gets into a relationship with a 33 year old has ZERO responsibility? Who knows whether Miss Polly Purebread didn’t pursue him!

  • Hey Now!!!

    I doubt she actually slept with him. Isn’t she really Religious? I don’t think even Mayer would be that much of a Creep to shag a 19 year old then dump her.

    • hannah

      she’s probably a dead lay.

      • zizi

        Haha..I’m pretty sure she wasn’t any kind of ‘sexual napalm’ in bed. o_O

  • momoftwo

    Agreed she should’ve known…if it was with JM. Still doesn’t change the fact that she cant’ carry a tune in a bucket and all of her songs are the same.

  • Bonnie

    Hmmm…I actually think she’s turning into the female version of John Mayer (with less rough edges). She’s certainly collecting her fair share of famous ex’s and then singing about them.

    • LG

      Bonnie is right – maybe Taylor should take a look in the mirror to see what the problem is with her relationships. Still can’t believe she dated Mayer.

    • Hounds of Love

      She’s whiny and needy. That’s her problem in relationships.

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