Although this song is peppy and upbeat, Foster uses this to mask the true meaning of the song, and makes for a beautiful yet haunting composition, a tension which he referenced in the same interview:
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Hey guys just thought I should create this since most people are confused about what "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People is really about (at least where I come from). The song is known for to be a super catchy tune and it can literally get stuck in your head all day. But nobody really pays much attention to the actual backstory of the song itself.
Apr 14 Podcast: The Deeper Meaning of "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People ft. Neal AKA "Merlin"
This is my first time analyzing music and I actually had to study the meaning of terms such as “pitch, tone, riff, timbre, etc” through both dictionary and Youtube, but I have obtained a general sense of the elements that constitute music property- quality. So if I do not make myself clear or use any term wrong, please point them out and I hope we can discuss them in class.
Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People
At the time, Foster was only 18 and “hadn’t learned how to write a song where was singing and playing at the same time.” He’d been invited to a house party, and, as he always did, he took his acoustic guitar along. During the gathering, Foster recognized Rivers Cuomo. River is, of course, the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of American rock band Weezer. Foster says he “cornered Rivers,” brought out his guitar, and asked Rivers to listen to a song he’d been working on.
“‘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.”
The Meaning of "Pumped Up Kicks"
The poppy tune includes lyrics about guns, bullets and a kid named Robert, which some have claimed is meant to depict Robert Hawkins, the gunman who killed eight and injured six people before taking his own life at Omaha’s Von Maur store in 2007.
Meaning of “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
The line in which Foster sings about one Robert having a “quick hand” has been over the years said to refer to the 19-year-old gunman Robert A. Hawkins who perpetrated the notorious Westroads Mall shooting in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. on 5th December, 2007. The incident claimed the lives of 9 people, including the perpetrator and left six others injured. Despite the band’s publicist denying that, Foster and the other members of the band are yet to deny or confirm the speculations.
For those who may not be familiar, the song “Pumped Up Kicks” is by the newly-famous indie band, Foster The People. Their hit single has quickly climbed to the top of music charts, made its way on mainstream radio stations and put the once no-name band into the limelight. Along with record deals signed and numerous sold-out shows, the band has been witnessing its musical career soar.