"Pumped Up Kicks" (CD Single) Music Poster Image

"Pumped Up Kicks" (CD Single)

Upbeat music masks darker messages about smoking, guns.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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".

Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking

References to smoking throughout.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Artist:Foster the People
Release date:July 28, 2011
Label:NME Radar Records
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of "Pumped Up Kicks" (CD Single) was written by

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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 Tarzan. If you get this song you should listen to it.
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 - foster the people. This song is about troubled youth THAT DID NOT RECEIVE THE NURTURE AND LOVE OF PARENTS AND PEERS and thus is disturbed. Just as we have seen in the Columbine school massacre and Virginia Tech massacre (among others), we need to be very careful with our kids and show them that we truly do care for them. This song should serve as a reminder to adults to show their children love and should remind children that they have the love that the kid in the song doesn't. Also, it's not like kids who are 10 are actually going to give two craps about the lyrics. I mean, seriously, this song is so flipping catchy and upbeat, some people hardly care. If not for the beat, this song may not have been at #3 on the Billboard or been the most downloaded track at one point. Foster the People may not be sold out everywhere. It all depends on the person. Heck, I commend Foster the People for putting out an issue like this in the mainstream. Whoever wrote this review needs to check themselves. Read between the lines - you're an adult, you can do that much now. "It's about gun violence." Honestly though? HONESTLY? It's people like you that keep this country's youth under some silly shelter and when they break out of it at school and whatnot, and start rebelling against you, you'll be sorry. You need to teach moderation, not totally annhilating this sort of stuff. THEY NEED TO BE EDUCATED AND THAT IS WHAT THIS SONG IS TRYING TO PUT OUT TO THE WORLD. ...that is all. Whehter
What other families should know
Great messages
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 other families should know
Too much violence