The lyrics to "Pumped Up Kicks" are written from the perspective of a troubled and delusional youth with homicidal thoughts. The lines in the chorus warn potential victims to "outrun my gun" and that they...
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

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

Daddy works a long day
He be coming home late, he's coming home late
And he's bringing me a surprise
'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice
I've waited for a long time
Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger
I reason with my cigarette
And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, out run my gun
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You'd better run, better run, faster than my bullet


Lyrics submitted by evenabird, edited by kitty17moo, indierox, Paymaan, MycroftJr, bobbywasabi123, smartboiii420, haylo740

"Pumped Up Kicks" as written by Mark Foster

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, SMIMS COFFEE AND TEA MUSIC PUB

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Pumped Up Kicks song meanings
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  • +15
    General CommentProbably already said, but I'll give a stanza-by-stanza inderpretation.

    "Robert's got a quick hand."

    I'm sure Robert is an allusion. Research gives three possibilities (that I've been able to find after a broad search, at least): Robert Steinhäuser, Robert A. Hawkins, and (most recently) Robert Butler Jr. "Robert" is ready to shoot at any point. Cowboy reference (quick draw).

    "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."

    He's probably cocky, feels powerful. Cowboys are loners who do things to feel mighty. They're also quick to resort to gunfights. The cigarette only emphasizes the idea of being a "badass." Cigarette is also another cowboy reference

    "Yeah he found a six shooter gun.
    In his dads closet hidden in a box of fun things, and I don't even know what."

    At this point, I think the allusion (Robert) is now solely referring to Robert Steinhäuser; Robert S. brought a glock to his school. The terminology of "six shooter gun" is typically limited to revolvers, a gun popular in Western movies. They were popular because they were small, easily hidden. Glocks are standard for police-officers, so it's viable that it could be found in a father's closet. "Fun things" in so ambiguous no one could ever get direct meaning from it, but I'd assume he found other police-like items (tazer, perhaps?). But, then again, for all we know it's just a bunch of bondage equipment.

    "But he's coming for you, yeah he's coming for you."

    It's meditated and he's resolute. There's clearly a lot of though going into this. I've read a lot of cockiness into the statement, too.

    "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."

    "pumped up kicks" would refer to some sort of trendy shoe. Considering it's an article of clothing that kids wear, I assume they're popular. I can't decide on "other's" meaning–it's either "everyone else with the kicks" is going to get shot, or it's making a distinction: ONLY the kids (the popular, perhaps rich childen) will be fired upon. The repetition of run really emphasizes the insanity of the guy. The terminology is devilishly coy, too. He's trying to cause a panic–there's more to it than just shooting the kids, he WANTS them to flee; "Robert" wants to hunt. Chilling.

    "Daddy works a long day.
    He be coming home late, yeah he's coming home late.
    And he's bringing me a surprise."

    I don't trust the wording. The phrasing doesn't depict "Daddy" well. Is he working? We have no evidence, but he's probably abusive. I'd argue the "surprise" is a fist, after "coming home late" from the bar.

    'Cause dinner's in the kitchen and it's packed in ice.
    I've waited for a long time.

    I have two ideas for the first line. My first thought is that it's booze covered in ice. My other thought is maybe he'll have to eat an icepack after the beating? My boyfriend says it's a reference to a boy who killed his parents and packed her into the freezer, but I can't find anything on google to verify such a thing existed. Though, regardless of the connotation, anything "packed with ice" doesn't sound like a particularly good dinner. At this point there's also a shift, which bothers me. Broadly, I'd argue that someone's been inspired by "Robert." If I were to write a thesis, I'd say that "Robert's" deliberate spectacle in his shooting (attempting to incite fear) is catching on among other deranged teenagers. Heh. I have this image of this kid just grinning from ear to ear as he's waiting. Cowboy reference.

    "Yeah the slight of my hand is now a quick pull trigger,"

    He's ready to shoot in an instant. Another cowboy reference.

    "I reason with my cigarette,
    And say your hair's on fire, you must have lost your wits, yeah."

    Probably chewing on his cigarette, moving it around while he's deciding whether to go through with it (liken to what people do with pencils when looking at a problem). He retorts to his doubts that the head of the cigarette (the unfiltered part you light) is on fire, so what does it know?
    Koriismon February 13, 2011   Link

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