I am a sucker for a good beat. Any song with a catchy rhythm and rhyme is guaranteed to get stuck in my head for days on end. At times I take pleasure in being able to hit this mental repeat button, savoring the melodies over and over; other times I just shudder and wish that the song would go away. Music can be poison to the soul.
Over the past few weeks, I have been listening to Foster the People’s debut album Torches. The album paints a melodic landscape of smooth summer sounds tinged with a subversive darkness. The band’s career launching song, “Pumped Up Kicks”, best displays the bands musical groove/dance with the devil. Below is a sample of the song’s “happy” chorus:
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,You better run, better run, outrun my gun. All the other kids with the pumped up kicks,You better run, better run, faster than my bullet.
“Pumped Up Kicks” tells the dark story of a kid taking his dad’s gun and going on a shooting spree. At first listen, you’d never be able to tell that that is what lead singer Mark Foster is singing about. By the time you’ve looked up the lyrics, it is too late. The satisfying whistling of the chorus has already embedded itself. Whether the song is about raising awareness or celebrating teen gun violence doesn’t matter. What matters is what is now worming its way into your soul.