"Pumped Up Kicks" (CD Single)

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

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 49 reviews

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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 byfosterthemonster May 2, 2012

Watch the interviews and read the tweets

You will then realize it is not about a school shooting.
Adult Written byI put North Kor... March 25, 2019

Literally what happens to schools who use ixl

This is what people listen to after doing IXhell because i do
Teen, 13 years old Written byKidquizine May 22, 2012

Not what you think it's about, video makes no sense

The song is about an outcast/bullied teen, NOT about a school shooter. So maybe it references smoking, guns, etc. but it is not about a kid who goes killing peo... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBookLover489 April 4, 2021

Catchy Song With Darker Lyrics

Anyone listening to "Pumped Up Kicks" needs to know that it is about a troubled, underprivileged youth who harbors resentment toward his wealthier pee... Continue reading

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

  • Artist: Foster the People
  • Release date: July 28, 2011
  • Type: Single
  • Label: NME Radar Records
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: No
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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