“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People (2010)

This song is interesting to me because I think most people do not know or pay attention to its message. I remember listening to this song when it first came out during sixth or seventh grade. I liked the song at first, but after learning more about the lyrics and meaning I was surprised by how different it was than I originally thought.

I enjoyed the song at first because if its upbeat, alternative music. It has a psychadellic kind of sound that conveys more positive feelings. The repetitive drum beat makes you want to tap your toe along to the music. The long musical introduction creates the tone for the song, already setting the expectation for a fun song.

When paying attention to the lyrics, the meaning comes pretty obvious. The first verse describes a boy who found a gun in his father’s closet and has some kind of plan.

Robert’s got a quick hand
He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan
He’s got a rolled cigarette, hanging out his mouth he’s a cowboy kid
Yeah found a six shooter gun
In his dad’s closet hidden oh in a box of fun things, I don’t even know what
But he’s coming for you, yeah he’s coming for you

The song continues to the chorus, which warns “All the other kids with the pumped up kicks / You’d better run, better run, out run my gun.” From these lyrics, a darker message is communicated that leaves the listener feeling unsettled.

The singer’s performance, like the music, comes across as upbeat and energetic. His voice is autotuned to sound kind of soft and airy. During the chorus, the high notes and repetitive lyrics and tune make listeners want to sing along and bob their heads.

Based on the lyrics, the song is clearly about gun violence. The music and delivery mask the dark message, but that could be done intentionally so that the song would be catchy and memorable. Like other songs we’ve studied, the music and lyrics seem to be contradictory, which would make it an interesting song to look further in to. Additionally, I think the topic of gun violence is even more relevant now than ever, making this an important topic to be studied.

“Dear Mr. President” by P!nk (2006)

This song first interested me because of its title. I hadn’t heard this song until now, but I came across it while looking into other P!nk songs, as I knew she has been politically outspoken recently. Now I realize that this is not a new thing for her, as she spoke out against Bush in 2006 as she does about Trump and other republican politicians now.

The music of the song is simple. The song begins with just one guitar strumming the tune, and during the chorus only a second guitar is added. The music is slow, setting up a more serious tone for the song. The song ends with the same somber guitar melody it begins with, leavng the listener quiet and reflective.

The lyrics are very straightforward, saying Dear Mr. President to make the message starkly clear. In the beginning, she asks the president if she can ask him some questions, then she goes off on a long list of concerns about the state of the country. She addresses many social justic issues, such as homelessness, women’s and LGBTQ rights, and insufficient minimum wage.

What do you feel when you seeĀ 
All the homeless on the street?

What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
What kind of father might hate his own daugther if she were gay?

Let me tell you about hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way

P!nk’s delivery, like the music, is simple and low, not trying to show off her typically strong vocals. She focuses on the words themselves rather than the performance. Making a catchy pop song does not seem to be the intention with the song, as it is emotional and serious.

All aspects of the song work to communicate her discontent with the government and the state of the country. The slow, melancholy music, straightforward lyrics and clear delivery express her personal dissatisfaction, as well as the common complaints of other Americans. I think this song would be interesting, though possibly challenging, to study because it touches on so many different social issues that are still relevant today under the current presidency. As I said before, P!nk is still outspoken about politics, so it could be interesting to look at her history of musical protest. Additionally, I think it would be cool to learn about the political time period she refers to in this song, as it was something I lived through but was too young to understand at the time.


Emily Graham