By now, everyone’s heard “Uma Thurman” by Fallout Boy from American Beauty/American Psycho, and everyone probably knows it too. The song doesn’t sound anything like most mainstream pop, maintaining a distinct rock pop sound, full of grunge and energy. The song was released January 13, 2015 and a music video to match was released on April 17, 2015. It features a fan who won a sweepstakes to be Fall Out Boy’s assistant for 24 hours. In the video, Sarah and the band romp around and have fun.

“Uma Thurman’s” music video won at the VMAs last night in the “Best Rock Video” category, helping it to even further leave its mark on listening ears. However, the meaning of the song remains something of a mystery for most readers (and VMA viewers), with many wondering, “Why Uma Thurman?” But before the answer, a musical insight: “Uma Thurman’s” opening riff is exactly identical to the theme song from the old The Munsters TV show from the 60’s.

“The Meaning”

First, the title. Uma Thurman is an American actress from Boston. She is now 45 and is known primarily for her work in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. (She also played Poison Ivy in the 1997 Batman & Robin.)

On Facebook, the band explained the reason for picking her (as well as the rest of the song):

Uma Thurman and Winona Ryder, they were these women in pop culture who were quirky, but that made me only crush on them harder. and rather than going with the traditional Uma Thurman role, we thought a lot about Kill Bill and who her character was in that, and this kind of resilience and this violence, but there’s something that’s authentic about it (like a woman taking revenge or being empowered). So that’s what the chorus of the song’s about, and the verses are what you would do to try and capture this woman’s affection.

“Uma Thurman’s” about wooing a violent, wild woman. And lead singer Patrick Stump begins his ode to this woman in the song’s intro by proclaiming how far he’d go to woo her. He sings, “I can move mountains / I can work a miracle, work a miracle.” To match her strength and power, he has to be able to promise her that he too can keep up with her and possibly even do things greater than she can so that she’ll consider him worthy. He has to prove himself to her.

Fall Out Boy - Clifford Stumme  Fall Out Boy sings, “Oh, oh, keep you like an oath / May nothing but death do us part.” His love for her is intense and something that he’s willing to commit to powerfully–a feeling that the strong and intense melody attests to.

As Fall Out Boy describes above, the chorus is about this woman, explaining that “[s]he wants to dance like Uma Thurman,” which is a reference to a memorable dance scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman’s character asks John Travolta’s character to dance and aggressively leads the dance.

When Stump sings that this woman “wants to dance like Uma Thurman,” he’s claiming that she may forcefully make her man dance with her because she’s aggressive and competitive.

Fall Out Boy 2 - Clifford StummeGenius.com suggests that the line about being buried until “I confess” likely refers to a scene in Kill Bill in which Uma Thurman gets buried alive, further intensifying how strong and energetic her characters’ personalities are. The last line of the chorus explains that Fall Out Boy can’t get her out of its head, and so they will continue to chase her.

In Verse 1, the band references “[t]he stench, the stench of summer sex” and “CK eternity” (a type of perfume), with both seeming to continue to strengthen the idea that a relationship with this woman will be intense.

Patrick Stump and the band are willing to get out of the way for such a woman as testified to by the line “Divide me down to the smallest I can be.” The verse-finishing line, “Put your, put your v-v-v-venom in me” is likely another reference to Kill Bill but could also be a reference to Thurman’s role as Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin.

In Verse 2, Stump sings, “The blood, the blood, the blood of the lamb / Is worth two lions, but here I am.” He seems to be saying that while he knows that peace and martyrdom are worth more than war, he still finds himself drawn to her strong personality. While the rest of the world admires peace (and maybe even a conventional view of femininity as soft or passive), he can’t keep himself away from her.

In the last half of that verse, he sings, “And I slept in last night’s clothes and tomorrow’s dreams / But they’re not quite what they seem.” He’s dreaming of being with her and has become obsessed. He’s beside himself and isn’t taking proper care of himself as he spends so much time hoping to be with her. “[T]hey’re not quite what they seem” because this girl’s very nature is to surprise those around her.

Fall Out Boy 3 - Clifford StummeFinally comes the Bridge, in which the ode progresses to a trance-like repetition of praises for the band’s ferocious woman. Stump sings, “You’ll find your way / And may death find you alive.” He has faith that nothing will stop this woman and wonders whether she even may be able to intimidate (or at least not care for the fear of) death.

He sings, “Take me down the line / In Gem City we turn the tide.” “[T]he line” seems to be a reference to a battle line, which she walks confidently. Perhaps the most confusing part of the song is the reference to “Gem City” where the tide is turned. (Thanks to a user on Genius.com), Quincy, IL is known as the “Gem City” and it’s only a few hours from Wilmette, IL where Fall Out Boy originates. Wherever “Gem City” is specifically, it’s the site of a battleground or metaphorical obstacle course that Fall Out Boy’s woman navigates with ease.

What do you think about “Uma Thurman” by Fall Out Boy? What do you think it means? Please share! Especially if you know what “Gem City” refers to–that would be super helpful. Everyone else, check the comments to see if someone else has shared the secret with us. 

If you liked this article, please share/like/comment/tweet here, on Twitter, or on Facebook. Thanks for reading. Cliff, signing out.

  • my class and I went to a another school to see this guy. As he was introducing his friends he said patrick as soon I heard that I screamed Patrick Stump! Of course he a comedian too so he asked me who he was and I was just like:Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy. Everybody was laughing I was too. I an’t shy

  • Bingo

    I think because you have no Christian roots, you did not catch the obvious. This song is very sacrilegious with its concern with death. All Americans use to know that the “blood of the Lamb” is the blood of Jesus Christ, Who died for us for the remission of sins. He is Love and Life. Venom is used as a reference to intercourse. But at the least, a reference to a serpent. There is a serpent that hates Jesus Christ. But even if you don’t get every analogy, the mix of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice so we could live outside the realm of sin and death, and then mix that with venom and dancing on graves, and “may death find you alive.” Sounds more like witchcraft. Yes, the beat is fun, and the melody is driving. But isn’t that how it always is when something diabolical is introduced? It is a cover for something evil. Explain it away if you like, but I fear you are missing the blasphemy of the sacred.

    • Bingo, thanks for the comment. I actually am a Christian and the son of a Baptist chaplain. I suspected what you said but disagreed with it after literary analysis and research. In any case, because very few people see what you see here, I do not think it will do much harm or cause anyone to stumble. Even a song about witchcraft is okay as long as we remain level headed about and pray for God-given wisdom. Thankfully, that’s not what we’re dealing with here. Blessings to you!

  • Dayton, Ohio is also known as “Gem City” – I would image a number of cities are called the “Gem City”. I don’t know what the connection would be thou (if any)

  • Tw1sT Sargent

    This song is about Shiva doing a dance of destruction. Divide me down to the smallest I can be is about the Higgs Boson from the CERN research facility. When CERN activates the LHC it causes Earthquakes like it did a little over a year ago causing the one that took aout a nuclear facility in Japan. The scientist are trying to “work a miricle” by recreating the “big bang” at the end of the year. http://Tw1sT.ninja 😉

    • Tw1sT Sargent

      Also, GEM CITY is INDIA 😉

    • Interesting. Thanks!

  • natxlaw

    I noticed how that intro riff sounds a lot like misirlou, that was the big thing music from pulp fiction.

  • I encourage you to read Phil 4:8
    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    and Romans 1:32
    Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    God’s word is clear. We are not to take pleasure in those things. We should fill our minds and hearts with things that fit Phil 4:8. Otherwise, we are filling our minds with poison (worldly things).

    • Are you saying that of this song? I’d be curious to hear more.

  • You can watch the video to see what is truly being conveyed by this song. When people listen to these worldly songs and watch worldly shows, they bring those things into their minds and hearts. Over time, your mind is now programmed by those things. Memorize Phil 4:8 and use it to filter everything you watch and listen to.

    True, Honest, Just, Pure, Lovely, of Good Report, any virtue, any praise. This song does not meet these requirements.

    Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom. Col 3:16

    • But what specifically? What things are we being programmed by? I’ve seen the music video, and I thought they looked like they were just having fun.

      Thanks for your help and for taking these songs so seriously. :)

  • The song makes a mockery of the Lord Jesus Christ and his shed blood and you ask what is wrong with it? If you love the Lord Jesus, why would you condone such a song?

    • I don’t think it necessarily mocks Him. Care to explain how it mocks Him?

  • Brent

    Clifford stumme
    It mockes him when they sing the blood the blood the blood of the lamb is worth 2 lions..

    The blood of the Lamb (Jesus) was shed for the remission of sins to redeem us from the curse of sin.. and to empower us now adopted as his children to become like him which leads to redemption of all things it is worth more than 2 lions.

  • flora1115

    can you also analyse the song American Beauty/American Psycho? =)