If you listen to the radio a lot or go shopping at the mall (or other places that pump in music), chances are you’ve heard Foster the People’s song “Pumped Up Kicks” and started tapping your foot along. It’s a catchy, upbeat song that sticks in your head after hearing it. What most people don’t realize is that Foster the People have written gritty lyrics for such an upbeat song to purposely send a mixed message. Take a look at these lyrics:
Robert’s got a quick hand.
He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan.
He’s got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he’s a cowboy kid.
Yeah, he found a six shooter gun.
In his dad’s closet hidden in a box of fun things, and I don’t even know what.
But he’s coming for you, yeah he’s coming for you.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.
Mark Foster, the band’s lead singer who wrote the song, says that he wrote the song to raise awareness of gun violence. He tried to envision himself as an “isolated, psychotic kid” who was seeking revenge against the people with “pumped up kicks” (people with money). Check out the Wikipedia article on Pumped Up Kicks, it’s really interesting.
There are a lot of kids out there who feel like the “isolated, psychotic kid” in this song. No one listens or genuinely cares for them. Mom and Dad aren’t really home much, and when they are they still aren’t really “present.” Friends are few and it seems like they simply don’t belong anywhere or with anyone.
So I’m left with a few questions:
- Do you think “Pumped Up Kicks” does a good job raising awareness of gun violence?
- How much should the message (lyrics) and the form (music) match one another? What do you think the band is getting at by making the message and form say opposite things?
- Who do you know who might fit the bill for the loner in this song? How could you show that person Christ’s love in simple, consistent, practical ways? Who is God calling you to “see” and care for?