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Meaning of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by ‘Foster the People’

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Released: 2011

Features: Foster The People

‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People is a dark depiction of a troubled youth named Robert. The whole song carries a captivating storytelling style that addresses the rising issue of youth violence and delinquency, couched in a catchy, upbeat tune that has led some to misunderstand its serious meaning.

The first few lines “Robert’s got a quick hand, He’ll look around the room, but won’t tell you his plan” introduce us to Robert. We get hints that Robert is quick-triggered, secretive and possibly dangerous. The line “He found a six-shooter gun in his dad’s closet” tells us how easy it is for him to access a firearm.

The chorus, “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, You better run, better run outrun my gun” serves as a chilling warning. Now, ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is actually a slang phrase for trendy, expensive sneakers, so this warning is directed towards the ‘cool’, popular kids. Here, the song uses a classic pop culture symbol – the cool kid’s sneakers – to hint at the societal divisions that can spark violence.

The second verse talks about ‘Daddy’ working long hours and bringing home a surprise, showing Robert’s home life probably lacks much-needed attention and care. Meanwhile, Robert’s interaction with his cigarette suggests he’s matured beyond his years, dealing with adult worries and frustrations.

The song tells a narrative about a troubled kid feeling alienated, left with dangerous tools in his hands and a society pushing him into a corner. It’s a strong commentary on youth violence and the easy accessibility of guns, all hidden under that catchy, pop beat.

So in conclusion, ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ is more than just a catchy tune. It’s a wakeup call, urging us to pay more attention to what’s going on in the world, especially what some young people might be going through.

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