Taylor Swift lays down 'Golden Rule' on 'X Factor'

Norman Byrd's picture

The singer of "Mean," Grammy-winning Taylor Swift, imparted some simple -- and effective -- behavioral advice to the finalists on "X Factor" this week.

Competition reality shows can get a bit -- shall we say -- overly competitive at times. And in the course of a season's run, some of the contestants might be a bit too aggressive, sometimes too passive aggressive, and at times just plain mean in their dealings with others on the shows. "X Factor" had its fair share of the aggressive early in the season, seeming to focus on a "mean girls" theme. But pop and country superstar Taylor Swift, whose had her own run-ins with mean people, appeared on the Top 12 results show and not only performed her latest promotional single, "State Of Grace," but dispensed a little time-tested advice for the "X Factor" finalists as well.

After finishing her performance (which can be seen here), she told host Khloe Kardashian in response to the question of what advice she would give young artists today, "I think the advice I would give people is to just -- no matter how tired you are, no matter what bad day you're having -- be nice to people."

Kardashian suggested: "Be nice. The Golden Rule."

"Good advice just in life, too," co-host Mario Lopez added. "You're exactly right."

And Swift knows what she's talking about. Besides all the accolades (6 Grammys, the Academy of Country Music Award's Entertainer of the Year, numerous other awards), the 21-year-old, the "State Of Grace" singer has had a few collisions with the mean-spirited. In fact, she wrote a song about one particular incident.

She penned, "Mean," a song that chided those that criticize not to be constructive but to be cruel, and included it on her No. 1 album, Speak Now. The song itself climbed the charts to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart (No. 11 on the Hot 100) and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in November 2011. It has sold over 1.8 million copies to date. The song was nominated for numerous music awards, winning two Grammys in February.

The song was written about a critic that had attacked her perceived off-key performance at the 2010 Grammy awards, CBS' "60 Minutes" reported in November 2011, when she sang alongside the legendary Stevie Nicks on "Rhiannon."

"The things that were said about me by this dude," she told the news magazine, "just floored me and like leveled me. And I-- I don't have thick skin. I hate reading criticisms. Like you never-- you never really like get past things hurting you."

"60 Minutes" characterized the song and video as an "anti-bullying, anti-meanness anthem."

Swift's music is often autobiographical, and it seems to have touched upon a chord that resonates with millions of people. Her albums (of which there are four studio, three live, two video, and three EPs) have sold over 22 million units worldwide. Her latest currently sits atop the Billboard 200, where it debuted and has remained for three weeks, having already sold over 1.7 million copies. It also produced her first ever Billboard Hot 100 single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," a song that became her seventh country chart-topper and her sixteenth country Top 10 hit overall.

Taylor Swift's message of "being nice" is especially appropriate for the 2012 season of "X Factor." The auditions began with several instances where the focus was on auditioners, most of them young women, simply being mean to other contestants. One of those young women, CeCe Frey, made it through the auditions, Boot Camp, the Judges Homes round, and a near-elimination from the Top 13. Her attitude and behavior was pointed out by her mentor Demi Lovato as "unlikable."

But she appears to have been attempting to mend her ways, although how much of it is for the cameras and how much is authentic only the finalist truly knows. But it just might be working. During the same results show on which Swift performed, Frey not only made the Top 10 Season 2 finalists but also moved up in the rankings from dead last to number six.

A reward for not appearing so mean in the last few live performance and results episodes? Perhaps. But the way one interacts with others certainly has its consequences. And being seen as a nicer person than the way she originally portrayed herself (with the help of the "X Factor" producers and editors, of course) certainly seems to have worked for CeCe Frey.

"X Factor" airs on Fox Television on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. (EST).

Take Home Message: The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

(photo credit: Angela George, Creative Commons)

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