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100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time

From "Blue Moon of Kentucky" to the Paisley croon of modern Nashville

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24. Taylor Swift, 'Mean' (2010)

On the frolicking "Mean," Taylor Swift sounds like she has queen bees, bullies, I'ma-let-you-finishers and corrosively cruel music critics in her banjo machine-gun's sights. From 2010's Speak Now, the song was an eventual Number Two country hit – and Number 11 on the Hot 100 – partly because it captures the sting of "words like knives." It's real power lies in giving enough ammo to empower victims of bullying even worse than those Swift suffered (i.e., getting mixed reviews for a Grammys duet with Stevie Nicks). This is 19-year-old Swift balancing her sound to pull in country fans while also opening the palace gates for the still-greater pop stardom to come. By Reed Fischer

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