I will be the first to admit that I don’t listen to the lyrics of every song I hear. I mainly focus of the beat and the rhythm of the music and occasionally I will look up the lyrics if I can’t decipher on my own. Some artist can create meaningful lyrics along with a catchy tune but the majority only accomplish one or the other.
A prime example of this is the song “Pumped Up Kicks” by the band, Foster the People. It reached number 3 on Billboard Hot 100 and has been played on several television shows. Personally, I hated the song the first time I heard it. It has since, grown on me to the point that it is my song of choice to sing in the shower. I was however shocked at the lyrics when I heard a cover of the song preformed by Corey Gray. The original is harder to understand which is why the cover was eye-opening and alarming.
Yeah, he found a six shooter gun.
In his dad’s closet hidden in 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.
The song is about a teenage boy who found a gun and plans on killing several other kids. In the second verse, the song goes on to explain the troubled home life of an alcoholic father who neglects his son on a regular basis. The “other kids with the pumped up kicks” refers to the popular kids that the boy plans on shooting. This is the story that landed the number three spot on Billboard Hot 100.
The shooting at Columbine was a tragedy and is known throughout most households. It is the reason many schools have intruder drills much like fire or tornado drills. The horrifying story of two boys killing 13 students as well as themselves has changed America’s view on bullying and terrorism. And yet, most students today could sing you the chorus of “Pumped Up Kicks” which describes killing the popular kids. That’s what people are listening to today even after haunting stories such as Columbine.
After reading the lyrics and really thinking about what they mean, it’s uncomfortable to hear. I have a hard time blaring this song in my car and singing along like it’s no big deal. The story of Columbine has been told to me several times and I have practiced the drills at my high school over what to do if there was a shooter on campus. This past year at college, a shooter was running through campus and the fear and panic I felt was nothing to sing about. I understand what that feels like without being directly involved and the fact that there is a song about that specific incident is appalling. Killing children is nothing to sing about. Ever.
Our music industry is changing all the time, I just hope that it doesn’t continue to praise music written about such a terrible occurrence.