“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People intrigues me for a number of reasons. It is interesting to me that many people do not realize what the song is about when they first hear it. It takes close listening to comprehend the lyrics, but even then the music and performance can distract from the serious situation described in the song. The lyrics depict a boy who found his father’s gun in a closet at home and plans to shoot “all the other kids.” Aside from the upbeat, psychedelic pop music, the tone of the lyrics also adds a layer of complexity. The song does not explicitly call out the issue or offer solutions. It simply describes a boy thinking about committing a mass shooting. It almost has a sarcastic tone at points, such as “In his dad’s closet hidden oh in a box of fun things.” The song is a unique protest song because the lyrics are very clear, but it does not necessarily convey anti-gun language or express feelings of anger or frustration. It seems to be aiming to spread awareness through the catchy music and repetitive chorus.

While there are endless songs written about gun violence in the United States, this one seems like a unique case to me, particularly because of its genre and specific content. Many other songs about the topic tend to be rap or hip-hop, so the indie pop genre is an unexpected place to communicate a disturbing and very real situation. It is interesting to me that a band from this genre that had not had a top hit before would breakthrough with such a powerful protest song. I am curious to look into how the song came to rise in the charts and whether the context of the time period had a big effect on its success. In terms of the time period, the song came out in 2010. There does not seem to be a specific instance it is referencing, but rather just about the gun violence epidemic in general.

But what intrigued me most was how the message seems even more relevant now, in a time when school shootings are increasingly more common. It is an extremely turbulent and sad time to see all of the violence, especially against children as the song concerns. For me personally, I think this song will be important to study now to bring awareness to the problem and hopefully spark change. Gun control is a polarizing subject, but this song demonstrates why it is important to acknowledge.

My main concern about the project is related to the fact that this a heavy topic. While I think it will be an interesting song to study for the next 11 weeks, I do believe it will come with many challenges regarding the subject matter.

Overall, “Pumped Up Kicks” offers a complex case study. I think there will be a lot to talk about with the imbalance between the music/genre and the lyrics. I look forward to doing more research about the social context behind the song and the artist, and I am also curious to know whether this genre has any lineage of recent protest music. It will be a challenging subject to deal with, but an extremely important one.