So I spent the latter half of the summer and into what passes for autumn here listening to Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks," and feeling like it was very beachy and laid back and sort of exactly what I wished my summer had been.

At some point, I finally (finally!) looked up the 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 with 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.

Really?! And now when I hear it, half of me still loves the sound of the song and the other half is saying, "those lyrics are really fucked up."

So I just end up feeling vaguely uncomfortable when it comes on. The video, unfortunately, sticks with the mood of the music and so does nothing at all to enlighten or resolve the complete disconnect between the lyrics and the song.

Then there's Bruno Mars' "Lazy Song." I heard it awhile ago, because someone showed me the Leonard Nemoy version of the video (hilarious, by the way, and much better than the official one).

I realized yesterday that the song basically outlines the symptoms of clinical depression, again while sounding incredibly upbeat:

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone
So leave a message at the tone
'Cause today I swear I'm not doing anything
Nothing at all

Someone needs to start telling these people that dark lyrics and upbeat music do not go together unless you're purposefully being ironic.


  1. We love Pumped Up Kicks! Julian and I know most of the words and sing along. Sometimes he plays it in his CD player as his bedtime music.

  2. Yes, but that means your baby boy is singing about murdering people!

  3. I had never heard that song until I took a class on violence a few weeks ago. The instructor also teaches classes to teachers who run groups on anger management and suicide prevention and things like that, and played the song for us. It bothered her that the song was so happy sounding.

    At least Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" is obviously dark.

  4. It's about a school shooting. I had the same reaction when I discovered the meaning of the song. "But why is it so peppy and upbeat if it is about children dying?"

  5. I think Foster the People were being ironic, and the song is genius, in my opinion. "Pumped Up Kicks" reminds me of everything by The Postal Service, which I just loved so completely. But so much of my personality is kittens and blood, so it makes sense that I like happy music with sad lyrics. When my boyfriend showed me this, it changed my life.

    Also, just remembered that I still mean to add you to Facebook. It's great when someone says, "Sure, add me if you're not a creepy stalker," and then you don't add them, thereby solidifying your creepy stalker status.

  6. WHOA! The husband and I listened to that Foster the People song on our 9-hour-through-the-middle-of-the-night drive up to Wyoming (and then back again). We cranked up the volume to keep us awake, and I kind of felt the same way about it that you did. I'm really bad about just going with the melody and beat of a song and not really paying attention to the lyrics. So I had no idea that's what the song was about! Yikes!

    Melissa at Handwork

  7. I can't believe I didn't see this blog entry before! I almost wrote almost this exact same entry-- I am fascinated by the coolness of the music for "Pumped Up Kicks" vs. the lyrics.

    My kids kept asking what the song really said after I implied that O. was wrong in her rendition: "Run... faster than my brother." Haha! I told them they could figure it out.


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