My 14-year-old daughter Ashley wants to download the popular song Pumped Up Kicks. Okay, you’ve heard me repeated tell you my two cents on plenty of music. This time let’s change it up. You tell me… should I let her download it?
The other day my wife and I were shoe shopping (Lori loves shoes… and I love Lori) and we heard the song come on in the store. Lori said, “I really like this song. I keep hearing it everywhere I go. It has a great sound!”
I laughed and agreed. “It is really catchy.” But then I asked her, “Do you know what it’s saying?”
She looked at me with an expression of, “Oh no… is this one of those bad songs too?”
Sometimes it’s not fun being the guy who’s always researching the content of the top music, TV shows and movies teenagers are watching. Especially with songs like this. At times I feel like a teenager and want to just say, “I don’t listen to the lyrics!”
Lori had never heard all the lyrics. She told me, “Isn’t this just about some kids with “pumped up kicks?”
I told her… “Keep listening.”
She tried for like 5 seconds and couldn’t make out the words.
I gave her a line or two:
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.
I did a little research on the song because parents have been asking me about the song’s meaning at my workshops lately. The song is basically about a kid who has had enough, he grabs a gun out of his dad’s closet and goes on a shooting rampage trying to shoot the kids with the “pumped up kicks” (really nice shoes, possibly the rich popular kids that bullied him).
Mark foster, the band’s front man, in a radio interview said “I was trying to get inside the head of an isolated, psychotic kid.” Foster claimed “the lyrics were written to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence amongst youth.”
I’m sure songs like this help “bring awareness” Mark. Thanks!
So soon enough Ashley asked me, “Dad, can I download Pumped up Kicks.”
Here’s where all my teaching has real world application in my life. Chapter Six of my parenting book is actually titled, “Dad, Can I Download This Song.” It’s something I hear in my house almost weekly.
In this case I asked Ashley, “Did you read the lyrics?”
“Yeah, I didn’t understand them.” Then she cut to the chase, as Ashley always does. “So can I have it?”
I tried to give her a little bit of information for her decision-making. “Well, the song is about a young man who has had enough and decided to gun down all the other kids that have possibly bullied him or think they’re better than him.” Then I did one of my favorite parenting moves. I returned the question to her. “So… do you think you should listen to that over and over again?
“But Dad, I’m not going to shoot everyone. I just like the song!”
So what do you think. Should Ashley be able to download Pumped Up Kicks?