Foster the People: Pumped Up Kicks Meaning
Song Released: 2010
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Pumped Up Kicks Lyrics
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...
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.
anonymous 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']
anonymous 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."
The Song is about an isolated teenager named Robert (let's say he's somewhere between 15 - 17 years old) whose dad is an alcoholic who is both abusive and neglectful to him. His high school life is also a wreck he is bullied and mocked by preps and jocks and is generally seen as a loner freak by his peers. His mother left when he was young due to his abusive father so he has no support system and his dad is very poor and since his dad is neglectful he only has cheap frozen meals he can eat. Robert smokes cigarettes probably from spare packs he finds in his father's closet, and one day he finds his father's six shooter gun while trying to get himself a cigarette Robert knows how to use it because his father forced him to shoot it when he was a young child and he knows how it works and functions. Robert then gets the ultimate idea, he has all the power he wants right at the tip of his fingers. Robert takes the gun, sits at the dinner table, lights a cigarette and silently waits for his father to return home. Once home his father heads straight for the freezer to get his alcohol but he is surprise to find his son Robert there with his gun in hand, he mocks his father then shoots him at point blank range. Once over Robert waits till tommorow morning and drives to his school and opens fire on his peers, he mocks them and when he's done he lights one last cigarette and mocks himself saying "You're hairs on fire you must have lost you're wits, yeah? Before turning the gun on himself. Overall this song is fantastic and powerful representing today's lost and troubled youth who feel violence is the only option to their problems, and does it job in trying to solve what makes them tick and hopefully letting people be aware that they should give their teenage children all the support and love you can. Because some really need it. 10/10 song lyrically and instrumentally.
anonymous Jul 14th, 2019 7:18pm report
This is about the school shooting caused by Eric and Dyland in columbine, Robert was just a kid who was an outcast and was like the cowboy so he wore the cowboy boots while everyone else had “pumped up kicks”. Robert later killed his father and himself because of his mental illness. This is kind of a mixed story because Eric and dyland were the shooters while Robert was the one who committed suicide. I believe that all 3 were mentally ill and that’s where the story really connects.
anonymous Jun 16th, 2019 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!
anonymous 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.
anonymous 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.
anonymous Feb 2nd, 2018 2:24pm report
This song came out before the columbine shooting that’s all I have to say.
anonymous 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.
anonymous Nov 19th, 2017 11:29pm report
Maybe the just want to raise school shooting awareness.
anonymous Nov 11th, 2017 11:00pm report
It's about shooting up a school and children running.
anonymous 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.
anonymous 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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