You know, I'm growing more and more impressed with Taylor Swift's songwriting skills the more I hear of her. "Mean" sounds very much like an autobiographical retrospective, and even if it's not, the fact that it sounds like it is counts as a nice accomplishment. It's impressive to see her breaking out of the "romance as first, last and only subject suitable for a hit" rut that so many songwriters confine themselves to. And Swift is remarkably comfortable in front of the cameras for her videos. This is striking when you consider just how many country singers aren't (watch almost any country music video--if the performer's names isn't "Sugarland" then it's a safe bet the video will either be a safe performance clip or downright awful). Swift also nails the period look very well, and I wouldn't be surprised to see her make a jump to movies before long (if she wants to, that is). The only real negative about this is her painfully obvious ineptitude with the banjo. You're a great guitarist, Taylor, we get that. But I didn't spend 20 years watching Roy Clark "pickin' and a-grinnin'" on Hee-Haw to fall for your fake banjo playing so easily. Next time, stick to the six-string.