Not many songs become very popular immediately after their release. It happens even less often when the track does not need additional advertising or PR. It just goes out into the world and attracts everyone’s attention; an incredible interest in it is born. That’s what happened with the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People. It was on the first places of many music charts in the world, constantly breaking more and more new records. Of course, such popularity attracted a huge audience, which began to think about the meaning of the song. And it was not as simple and carefree as the melody. The track’s meaning is not as rosy as the band’s cute chant. What’s the real meaning behind the song of Foster The People?
The story behind the song “Pumped Up Kicks”
Mark Foster, the band’s lead singer, describes the creation of the track as follows: “I wrote ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ while I was working as a commercial music composer for a company. There was a small studio that I worked at: making music for TV. The first thing I came up with was the chorus, and there’s a moment here, because the chorus without the verses gives the song a completely different context. Originally, before the verses were written, this song was a completely normal, it was a calm song”.
“All the other kids better run, out run my gun …” – this does not mean a real “gun”, initially it was just a metaphor. The track did not call for killing or picking up weapons. It is aimed at completely different things.
Mark admits that the creation of the song was given to him very quickly and easily. He just said the first verse at once, spontaneously, and wrote it down in a notebook. Then he played along and sketched a melody. The whole text came out at once, as if it had been sitting somewhere in his head for a long time and demanded that it be written down as soon as possible. And guys got a new song about a child who knows how to stand up for himself, who will never let himself be offended.
What does “Pumped Up Kicks” mean?
Pumped up kicks is the name of the song. Why did the band choose such a name for their unusual track? Think about school and yourself, remind all the situations. How did you dress? Most likely, it was something fashionable and stylish. You wanted to stand out from the rest and leave memories of yourself. The guys dressed expensively, often brag to each other about their clothes. That is why the hero of the song is no longer afraid of those who bought cool sneakers for which a huge amount of money was given.
Understanding the meaning behind song “Pumped Up Kicks”
The lyrics of the song are about a teenager, his name is Robert. He suffers from certain psychological problems. He is rejected by the society of peers, which constantly gives him a lot of pain. But he decides to kill everyone who has been bothering him for so long. He dreams of finding a weapon in his father’s closet and going to create his cruel retribution.
Here it is important to note the following: everything that happens is not propaganda of violence against other people! The author himself has repeatedly stated that he did not set such a task for his song. He just wanted to talk about the difficult adolescence and its manifestations. In this case, the guy wants to simply destroy the system that oppressed him day after day. Yes, it’s terrible, but he sees no other way out for himself. No one wants to help poor Robert, so he is left alone with his problems.
The first verse tells about the boy’s abnormal state of health. He cannot share his thoughts and problems with anyone, which gradually leads him to a terrible thought. He wants to take the weapon from his father’s closet and go to take revenge on all those who hated him. These are really the most terrible thoughts that can only arise in the head of a teenager, but he can no longer endure. The verse ends with a really creepy statement that Robert is already coming for you. And now let’s analyze the line of the first verse.
“Robert’s got a quick hand, he’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan”. This part of the verse already suggests that the boy is either being teased or bullied. It is not clear why people suddenly decided to make Robert an outcast, but he was pretty fed up with the attitude of society towards him. His gaze is cold and cruel; he no longer intends to endure bullying. He is ready to fight for the right to be a free ordinary person, so that no one else bothers him.
“He’s a cowboy kid! Yeah, he found a six-shooter gun in his dad’s closet hidden in a box”. You don’t need to take it literally, he doesn’t kill anyone in the song. But his intention is too serious. Is this how the children around Robert got it, that he is even ready to take up arms? The question remains open.
“And I don’t even know what, but he’s coming for you, yeah, he’s coming for you”. Robert is so angry that he wants to end once and for all the unfair world that constantly offends him. Maybe it’s for the best. After all, then there will be no cruelty. Again, it is worth noting that he never kills anyone, and does not even dream of doing it. He is full of determination and strength, but does not harm anyone.
“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun”. Here is such a short refrain in a couple of lines, saying that this little boy should be feared. Cool sneakers and expensive clothes do not mean that everything is allowed for you. Financial status does not play any role when it comes to ordinary communication between people.
The guys from the band are firmly convinced that such a presentation of the track with a carefree performance, but strong lyrics is used to more vividly contrast the social problem and the rest of society. And this is a really important topic for discussion, because in educational institutions you can often find misunderstandings.
What does Foster The People say about their song?
- The band wanted this weird quirky song to top the radio charts. That was the original goal.
- Then, as the song literally flew into the charts, the guys realized that the lyrics had almost become an anthem for all the incomprehensible schoolchildren.
- And here are the words of the soloist: “Imagine you have a group where you play the electric guitar. In today’s world, it is not very relevant. And here you hear it on the radio. This is the best thing that can be for an ordinary group!”.
- The song has become a topic of discussion. People have realized how important this is and needs to be discussed.
Now you understand how important it is to pay attention to the problems of teenagers. The lack of banal communication with each member of society can push one of its elements to a violent way of solving the problem. And it will be terrible! Here’s what the guys from the group wanted to say.
At first glance, there is nothing illegal or bad in the clip. Here the performance of the group is mixed, their emotions from their own song. Notice there is no weapons, no hint of violence either. If you turn off the sound and leave only the video, then the clip looks very nice and unforced. The whole secret is in the text of the track. And all this causes a strong dissonance when there is a picture that does not match the clip a little. Agree that the video is perfectly made in such a way that it is impossible to dig into its content. The only not very pleasant picture is the beginning of the clip, where the guy flies from a height directly into the water. Either he jumped off himself, or someone threw him off (which is most likely!). And if he was thrown off, then perhaps it was this situation that affected the boy with the last boiling point. He gained strength and decided that it was time to stand up for himself and start with a tough decision.
Does the band itself like the lyrics and performance? This is how the soloist of the group speaks about the track: “I had no idea that the song would play from every iron. If I had known, I would have come up with other chords for the song. I would make them go faster. For me, this is the eternal chorus, chorus, chorus … It drives me crazy to hear this stupid chorus all the time. Here is what I would like to change.”
The track will be popular for a long time, as long as there is aggression and unfair treatment of people in the world. It energizes and gives strength, motivates and makes you be the best version of yourself. Let the song not cause negative emotions and spin in your head as often as possible. It shouldn’t be repulsed.