Pump It Up

Gee, whatever happened to playing cowboys and indians?

The Nest is bringing Monday Muzak to you completely freestyle over the next handful of months.  It’s a collection of some of my favorite songs that aren’t quite lost hits that I’m calling the Countdown of Whatever… officially known as The Top 30 Songs We Just Feel Like Playing.  These songs span the entire history of rock and roll itself, and this week we’re finally going to venture into that brave new millennium of music from Y2K and beyond!  And just like with many of my Mecca Muzak Monday features, we’re doing it indie pop style this week with a song that is so fun to listen to, yet contains a rather dark message that foreshadowed the decade to come…

#25. “Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People

In its nearly decade and a half of existence, the popular video uploading site known as YouTube has turned ordinary people all over the world into new age celebrities via the power of viral video.  And while that unstoppable force has coughed up a number of hairballs like Justin Bieber and Baby Shark, it’s also given us a lot of really cool music that otherwise would have never been heard outside of the shower or garage.

Like Elvis, let us be fortunate this was shot from the waist up.

One such indie band that got its first exposure on the Tube was an LA outfit known as Foster the People.  Headed by founder and lead vocalist Mark Foster, the band created a song in 2010 that went so viral that it got them a recording contract the following year that turned their amateur inspiration into a #3 Billboard hit.  It’s got an absolutely awesome bass line, some really cool vocal distortion, and a cheery, catchy chorus… all of which mask a rather dark theme that is probably the only reason it isn’t still being played all the time on the radio today…

I loved this song from the first time I heard it on a road trip earlier in the decade, and it wasn’t until I went searching for it years later on YouTube that I noticed in the comments just what the song was supposed to be about.  Mark Foster wrote the song in response to the increase in reported cases of mental illness in youth, and tried to get in the head of such troubled kids who ultimately acted out in very extreme and deadly ways to figure out what made them tick and why they got to where they were.  Unfortunately, many people look at the song as glorifying such violence which, as the incidents of mass shootings rose over the coming years, ultimately put the song on commercial radio’s taboo list.

Though they’ll still play “I Don’t Like Mondays” which was literally inspired by a school shooting.

So, serious topic aside… just what does “pumped up kicks” actually mean?  It’s slang for the fancy, expensive tennis shoes kids covet and wear as status symbols.  And in reality, it can stand for any kind of impractical fad or style that the hipsters of the world think make them so much cooler than the unwashed masses.  But kicks are shoes, and sadly kids have been killing other kids over their shoes since the days of the street gang wars several decades ago…

You’re not going to be outrunning any bullets in these pumped up kicks…

And on a more positive note, come back next Monday for Song #24 in our Countdown of Whatever!


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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21 Responses to Pump It Up

  1. it is a good friday night song… you can listen it while waiting for your date… and if you wait in vain… you can switch to imagination or doing it for the moneeh.

  2. I remember this song but 2011 was a rather difficult year and the lyrics escaped me. Thanks for the update. 😉

  3. Trisha says:

    Great. Now I’ll be whistling this all week! That chorus line really is catchy. I never knew what this song was about though. Beyond “all the other kids with the pumped up kicks” I never could understand a word they were saying. I suppose all those hard rock concerts from my late teens have caught up with me.

  4. ghostmmnc says:

    Catchy tune, but like you, I had no idea what they were singing about at first. It’s hard to understand what they are saying anyway, with that distortion. Funny, you mentioned a road trip – first time I heard it we were on a road trip to Missouri.
    Oh my – those rat shoes would have freaked out our cats! haha! 🙂

    • I was headed to (or maybe from, I’m not sure) Oklahoma, so maybe it was even in about the same spot! I always find some really cool radio stations out in the middle of nowhere that aren’t bound by all the corporate playlists of the big city stations…

  5. draliman says:

    That’s quite a catchy song. I’ve never heard of Mr Foster and his People, though.

  6. Another forgotten song, thanks for this!

  7. ES,
    That’s so funny because I was listening to this song over and over recently. It’s such a happy tune for such dark subject matter. Because of all the mass shootings, I decided not to put it on my blog; but I’m so glad you did! Right now I can’t get enough of Leopold and His Fiction “I’m Caving In.” Are you a fan? Mona

  8. Well I must admit I’ve NEVER heard this song……….but I like it even though I can’t QUITE understand what they are saying…..the tune got me though!


  9. Absolutely love this tune. I used it as a backdrop to paint my living room, a dreary chore that was made better by the snappy beat and chorus. I may have to download a copy just so I can repaint that room again. That beat may have made the job easier to do but it did nothing for the poor color choice of a shade of white that just never did cut it. 🎨

  10. Quirky Girl says:

    Yeah, I liked Pumped Up Kicks more before I started to truly process the lyrics. Which is rather unfortunate, given the catchy beat. 😛

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