Pumped Up Kicks
Foster the People
Writer(s): Mark Foster (see lyrics here)
Released: September 14, 2010
First Charted: February 5, 2011
Peak: 3 US, 3 RR, 28 AC, 3 A40, 2 AA, 15 MR, 18 UK, 3 CN, 11 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 1.8 UK, 13.82 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1036.1 video, 1500.31 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Foster the People is an indie pop band which formed in 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The trio consists of singer Mark Foster, guitarist Sean Cimino, and keyboardist Isom Innis. The group released their debut single, “Pumped Up Kicks,” in 2010 as a free download. It garnered enough attention that Columbia Records signed them to a multi-album deal. The song then appeared on the group’s debut album, Torches, in 2011.
The song was picked up by Australian radio station Triple J in July 2010 and ranked as one of the station’s top 100 songs in their year-end countdown. After being released as part of an EP in January 2011, the song started getting played on alternative radio stations in America. After peaking at #1 on the alternative rock chart, the song crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100.
Mark Foster wrote the song in five hours while working as a jingle writer. He played all the instruments on the song and used the software Logic Pro to arrange and edit the song. He thought it would just be a demo, but it was the version of the song released by the group. WK
He explained that it is “about a kid…losing his mind and…plotting revenge. He’s an outcast.” SF Foster read about how teenage mental illness skyrocketed in the last decade and wanted to bring awareness to gun violence among youth. WK He wrote the song from the perspective of the homicidal teen rather than the victims because he wanted to “get inside the head of an isolated, psychotic kid.” SF Foster points out that there is no actual violence in the song because the threats are within the kid’s internal monologue. SF
The title refers to the Reebok Pump basketball shoe which was popular in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. In the song, the main character’s peers wear the shoes as a status symbol WK as the shoes were very expensive and “tended to be the privileged poseurs who annoyed the hell out of anyone wearing Converse or Keds.” SF
“Pumped Up Kicks” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
First posted 7/21/2023.