Monday, July 18, 2011

Is "Mean" The Country Music Equivalent To "Hit 'Em Up"?

In short, no, it's not. At least not in a literal sense. Taylor doesn't sing about banging her arch-rival's baby daddy, or warn us to "grab your clips when you see T-Swift", but what she does do is raise the simplest of all questions to her haters: Why you gotta be so mean?

Now it's unclear whether this song is about one journalist in particular (some guy named The Triggerman certainly believes so), or the blogoshpere as a whole. You know, the faceless Internet dwellers whose sole purpose in life is to build people up and then subsequently tear them down? Regardless, Swift does a phenomenal job of exposing the (at times) unnecessary cruelness of the media, laying down the ground work right in her opening lyrics.

"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 I'm nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I'm wounded
You, pickin' on the weaker man."
But she doesn't stay down for long, quickly rebutting with promises of personal success, moving on to bigger and better things later in life. As the song progresses she also depicts a scene where she foresees the writer alone, drunk and depressed in a bar.

"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
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."
Although Taylor opts to use the 6-string before reaching for a 6-shooter, the message in both "Mean" and "Hit 'Em Up" go hand in hand. They're songs about making a point, sticking up for yourself (in Pac's case, just slightly more vulgarly) and putting your nemesis down using words that stick and resonate. In Swift's case the message to the writer is simple- your income is dependant upon your reaction to music that I create, not the other way around. Simply put- you need me, not vice versa.

So why you gotta be so mean?

-fresh (@danye33)

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