Pumped up Kicks

Random: This song always raised a question in my mind when I heard it.  It was just sung on “American Idol” and it was interesting to see the judge’s reactions to the lyrics.   Everything that I wanted to say was written better in the following article found in the Chicago Tribune.

Dark meaning of bubble-gum Pumped Up Kicks is tough to chew

October 03, 2011|Steve Johnson | Tribune reporter

It was when my wife shoved the music player back across the table that I realized I needed to think harder about the tune I was playing for her.

“Pumped Up Kicks” has been hailed as the song — or at least a song — of the summer, although it first hit the charts in spring and is peaking now, in fall.

It is a perky pop ditty with just enough low-fi murkiness to make it hip. And its bright carousel of a chorus gets in your head and spins merrily around.

“Pumped Up Kicks” is also a song about a kid preparing to shoot his classmates at school.

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,” says the chorus, “you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun … You’d bettter run, better run, faster than my bullet.

Maybe we’re desensitized by the almost absurdly violent first-person-shooter video games so many kids spend their afternoons playing. Maybe naming the song after fancy sneakers instead of the weaponry creates enough emotional distance.

Or maybe we figure — as I initially did — that it’s just pop music, and its ear-candy qualities trump whatever the point of view might be.

But after looking closely at the song’s lyrics and listening to it many extra times, I have come to agree that this song is more deserving of a push away than the warm embrace it has mostly received.

I don’t for a moment fear that my kids or yours are one ill-considered pop song away from going bad, but I’d just rather not have their environment include a school shooting treated with all the gravity of bubble-gum pop — with whistling!

“Pumped Up Kicks” has been very, very good to Foster the People, the L.A.-based trio who released it as their first single. From nowhere, they’ve gone to playing Lollapalooza this summer. They’re on a mostly sold-out tour right now, scheduled to hit Chicago’s Riviera Theatre Wednesday night. They’ll play “Saturday Night Live” this coming weekend, with Ben Stiller hosting.

And the tune has been top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Aug. 27, No. 3 for the last five weeks. It’s a nice story, almost.

Mark Foster, the group’s Cleveland-bred frontman, did not respond to an e-mail request to address some of the questions raised by the song.

But in interviews, when the song’s dark subject matter has been an issue, he’s seemed able to satisfy questioners by referencing Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”

Read more and watch the video: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-03/entertainment/ct-ent-1004-foster-lyrics-20111004_1_school-shooting-pop-music-song


About Brian Fulmer

Brian is the owner of Crossroads Property Management Inc. (www.crossroadsproperty.com) He writes six blogs and has written two books. He also works with various missions around the world. His first love is Guatemala.
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