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"Pumped Up Kicks" (CD Single)

Music review by
Stephanie Bruzzese, Common Sense Media
"Pumped Up Kicks" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Upbeat music masks darker messages about smoking, guns.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 46 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Lyrics about smoking and playing with guns imply that they're cool.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The song is about a troubled youth.


Several references to finding and using a parent's gun: "Yeah, he found a six shooter gun in his dad's closet hidden in a box...He's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you".

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to smoking throughout.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while this song has a cheery melody, it's about a kid with a cowboy-like fantasy who thinks it's cool to smoke and wield the gun he finds in his dad's closet. Though there's no profanity in the tune, its messages about violence and smoking make it somewhat iffy for younger kids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bytammyjones121 June 13, 2012

Do not pay much heed to this review

This review is misleading. Despite what you may hear, you need to be able to delve deeper. Foster the People is trying to do exactly what their name implies - f... Continue reading
Adult Written byfosterthemonster May 2, 2012

Watch the interviews and read the tweets

You will then realize it is not about a school shooting.
Teen, 15 years old Written bybiovox14 October 24, 2016

Doesn't shy away from the reality of bullying.

This is a great song that depicts bullying from the victims AND the bully. Its really good and yes it has violence, guns, and smoking, but come on, so does Tarz... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written by3dblaster October 1, 2015

Dark Message, but not what common sense says

Yes the song has a dark meaning, but no it isnt about being a cowboy. It is about a boy plotting to massacre his school.

What's the story?

\"PUMPED UP KICKS\" is a pop tune by hipster group Foster the People that revolves around an old-time cowboy fantasy, with a kid who thinks it's cool to smoke threaten others with the gun he finds in his dad's closet: \"All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun...faster than my bullet.\"

Is it any good?

"Pumped Up Kicks" is the kind of song that gets stuck in your brain. You can't help but like the bouncy pop hook, with part of the lead vocals sporting a muted, megaphone-like sound that adds even more appeal. Aside from the fact that the lyrics are about guns and smoking, it's a fun, upbeat song.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the contrast between this song's lighter musical tone and its darker messages. Why might the band have paired lighter music with a deeper message? Is it possible that the talk about smoking and shooting is just a joke?

  • Is it ever OK to joke around about something as serious as shooting another person? Why or why not?

Music details

For kids who love cool tunes

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