What does Pumped Up Kicks mean?

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Foster the People: Pumped Up Kicks Meaning

Song Released: 2010

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Pumped Up Kicks Lyrics

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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 of his mouth he's a cowboy kid
Yeah found a six-shooter gun
In his dad's closet hidden in a box of fun things, I don't...


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    Jun 17th, 2011 6:26am report

    "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"
    --This plays out like a movie. This is what is currently happening. He's walking into the room, he has a "quick hand", he's getting ready to shoot people with a "cigarette" hanging out of his mouth. We'll get back to the "cigarette" in a moment.

    [Flash back in Robert's minds eye]
    He's a cowboy kid
    Yeah, he found a six-shooter gun
    In his dad's closet hidden in a box of fun things [He's home alone with nothing better to do but go through his father's stuff. Probably a social outcast at school and abused at home]

    And I don't even know what [drug paraphernalia?]

    But he's coming for you, yeah, he's coming for you

    Daddy works a long day [It appears as his dad's days are long, but he probably gets off work and heads right to the bar, which would make a long day.]

    He be coming home late, yeah, he's coming home late [again... from the bar]

    And he's bringing me a surprise [A beating? Physical abuse?]

    Because dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice [More alcohol-- beer, liquor, etc.?]

    I've waited for a long time [this has been building up over a long time and has finally reached a boiling point]

    Yeah, the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger [he's practicing his quick draw while he waits?]

    I reason with my cigarette [Back to the "cigarette". I believe that this is a joint that he found in his father's box with the gun. The "I don't know what..." stuff. Now he's high and trying to reason with the joint, justifying to himself what he is about to do]

    And say your hair's on fire [The end of the lit joint burning]
    You must have lost your wits, yeah [He's high. He's personified a joint, he MUST have lost his wits]

    All the other kids with the pumped up kicks [I don't think "pumped up kicks" refers specifically to a particular kind of shoe, but popular shoe or even popular clothing warn by popular kids...]

    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
    [I think here he is lacing it with sarcasm saying, 'you better hope your shoes are fast enough to outrun the bullets in my gun']



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    Jun 7th, 2011 6:41pm report

    Robert is an allusion to a mass murderer, but doesn’t refer to any specific Robert. The name is a metaphor for any kid about to explode with anger.

    His dad is neglectful and probably violent and abusive (comes home late, frozen dinner, gun left at hand). Mom is not mentioned and probably gone – or dead.

    Robert has disassociated himself from his peers and society in general. He’s the lone cowboy whistling as he rides along. As he tokes his “rolled cigarette” he notices the head of the joint is all fired up – just like his own mind. He realizes he has lost his reason.

    The kids with the pumped up kicks are those whose lives are all together. He is extremely envious of them and has directed his anger toward his dad upon them.

    They better run cause he’s got a gun.

    The tone of the song juxtaposed against the dark lyrics mirrors what often occurs in this type of individual. Everything on the outside is fine, but within something is about to erupt.


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    May 27th, 2011 5:19pm report

    "The song is about an outcast youth who doesn't wear the right clothes, doesn't say the right things and just doesn't fit in," Foster says. "It's really about the mental process of him going crazy. So it's a dark song with a really breezy melody."



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    Jun 16th, 6:29am report

    I haved loved this song and almost FOP songs. I listened to this song so many times and every time I feel the song has only one message.
    Keep in mind that I am 44 years old....it actually does make a difference! When I was in school I did not have to worry about mass shootings, children afraid to go to school, and parents praying that your baby will come home....and not have to worry if they can remember the "drill" if there is a mass shooting!
    When I listen to this song I hear...
    DO NOT COME TO MY SCHOOL! WE KNOW WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A CRAZY PERSON! We have taught our kids to make IT HOME! You only get once to get this right! I truly think that this song says....I HAVE A PLAN! I WILL WALK OUT OF HERE ALIVE!
    It does make me angry that my daughter EVEN HAS TO THINK ABOUT THAT, but that is life. I want to be prepared for it!


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    Nov 22nd, 2018 11:53pm report

    I think they're reffering to school shootings in general, not just columbine.


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    Aug 18th, 2018 8:01am report

    Mark Foster explained the song's meaning to Spinner UK: "'Pumped Up Kicks' is about a kid that basically is losing his mind and is plotting revenge. He's an outcast. I feel like the youth in our culture are becoming more and more isolated. It's kind of an epidemic. Instead of writing about victims and some tragedy, I wanted to get into the killer's mind, like Truman Capote did in In Cold Blood. I love to write about characters. That's my style. I really like to get inside the heads of other people and try to walk in their shoes."

    Foster says he considered writing the song from the perspective of the victim, but felt that would be a cop out. He also points out that there is no actual violence in the song, as the threats are all the kid's internal monologue.


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    Aug 2nd, 2018 8:49pm report

    It's ridiculous the top rated commentor, stating his father is violent and abusive. The song mentions a dad's closet, that's all. Maybe the mom gave him these thoughts, and she is the villain.


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    Feb 2nd, 2018 2:24pm report

    This song came out before the columbine shooting that’s all I have to say.


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    Jan 15th, 2018 1:17am report

    The song is about Robert who is mentally ill so he kills his father and shoots up hi school.


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    Nov 19th, 2017 11:29pm report

    Maybe the just want to raise school shooting awareness.


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    Nov 11th, 2017 11:00pm report

    It's about shooting up a school and children running.


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    Mar 24th, 2017 3:21pm report

    SO I do an research paper on Columbine, and I had to read this book called No easy answer by Brown and Merritt. In chapter 9 page 98 its talks about a kid name Robert Craig who had when to Columbine and a year before the shooting of Columbine he had killed his father and then him self.

    So In my mind this song is related to Columbine because of what Robert did. However, it may seem to have fueled Eric, and Dylan to shoot up Columbine. The part in the song about "Everybody run, better run out run my bullets" Eric and Dylan open fire on school and laughed about it. it talks about what Eric and Dylan did.

    these are my finding on my research. now weather or not the song is truly connected to the Columbine Shooting. We will have to ask Foster the People.


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    Jun 13th, 2015 6:21pm report

    I believe it was a bout the 2007 mass shooting done in an Omaha shoe store (hence the pumped up kicks)by Robert Hawkins, he killed eight before shooting himself.

    "The world was shocked on December 5, 2007 when 19-year-old Robert Hawkins walked into the Von Maur store in Omaha's Westroads Mall and opened fire on employees and shoppers. In this short but devastating attack, Hawkins killed eight people and wounded four others before killing himself with a gunshot to the head." - taken from onlyinyourstate.com


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    Mar 7th, 2015 3:05pm report

    It's about a kid who is planning to kill his classmates, Columbine style.


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    Nov 9th, 2014 11:10am report

    The song ends abruptly. "my hairs on fire" did this troubled kid shoot himself?


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    Jul 8th, 2014 7:20am report

    I think it's about the Columbine shooting because most of the time when you see a music video for it made by someone other than the record company, it involves TV reenactments of the shooting. Also, the song came out after the actual shooting. And "a box of fun things" mus be referring to the supplies used in the attack (ammo, knives, extra guns, and the bombs that never went off). The name Robert was to avoid controversy, along with the fact there is only one shooter in the song. There's no doubt about it. The actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1999 inspired one of Foster the People's most recognized songs.


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    Mar 20th, 2014 3:24pm report

    I think this is about the Columbine shooting.


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    Sep 12th, 2013 9:30am report

    It's actually inspired by Mark Foster's hearing about an American killed in Prague by anti-Americans on the same day as 911... Roberta, is a bohemian chick who is still in love with the American who was killed by the gang of young commie mafia...this gang was known for its pumped up kicks since the had killed other tourists from England, Ireland, Germany, etc. by getting their marks drunk in the Chapeau Rouge, drugging their drinks or just jumping them, kicking them after knocking them on ground & then surrounding the victim to be kicked violently by 6 or more gang members...John Carry an air force tourist was killed on 911 by that gang and Roberta is warning them she is going to avenge his death with her American "daddy's" six shooter...or was she in on it with the gang since she was pissed he might be cheating on her in that bar...they may have pumped up their kicks while on a drug fueled bender.

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