The other night when I was driving back from Maryland, I heard a song on the radio with a great sound. The disc jockey never announces the titles of songs anymore, so I have to decode the titles myself. I deciphered a few words of the song, and wrote them down -- "all the other kids". When I got home I typed "lyrics" and "'all the other kids'" into google, and learned that the title of the song is Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People.
I opened another browser and went to youtube, and typed in "Pumped Up Kicks." The song has a great tune, an upbeat drum and a heavy bass. The lead singer has an eerie, compelling voice. A cheery whistle is interspersed between the verses. This is a song that everyone is going to want to dance to.
I went back to my first browser to read the words. The lyrics, in contrast to the upbeat tune, tell a dark story of a boy who found his father's gun in the closet and plans to take it to school to kill "all the other kids." The cheery lyrics tell the kids they "better run, better run, faster than my bullet."
I don't know how to process my feelings about this song. While the sound of the song is one of the best I've heard, the lyrics make me feel a little sick. Those kids in their "pumped up kicks" could have been my son when he was 12 years old, wearing his first pair of Nike Airs. I can't help thinking of how hearing this song will make the parents of the children who were killed or injured at Columbine or Virginia Tech feel.
I do think the song is true art because of the conflicting emotions it arouses. The song reminds me of A Clockwork Orange with the psychopathic Alex singing Singing in the Rain.
I just wish the artists had used their great talent to do some good in the world.