Foster the People’s breakout hit, “Pumped Up Kicks,” has joined the exclusive Billion Views Club on YouTube, marking a significant achievement over 12 years after its initial upload.
The video, featuring the original lineup of Mark Foster, Mark Pontious, and Jacob Fink, captures a live performance with a small audience, coupled with behind-the-scenes footage of the trio recording the song, engaging in daily activities, and donning full-body wetsuits for a surfing session on an overcast day.
Originally released as the lead single from Foster the People’s debut album, “Torches,” in 2010, “Pumped Up Kicks” delves into the psyche of a character named Robert with homicidal tendencies.
The track stands as the band’s most successful to date, enjoying 40 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2011 and reaching No. 3 on the chart. The song’s popularity earned Foster the People a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Despite its success, “Pumped Up Kicks” faced controversy due to its intense lyrics. MTV censored specific lines when airing the video, and some U.S. radio stations banned the song following the tragic 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Discussing the song’s connection to the tragic event, Mark Foster shared with Billboard in a 2021 interview for the 10th-anniversary reissue of “Torches” that the song “is always going to mark an ugly truth about our society.” He drew a loose parallel to “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival and its association with the Vietnam War.
Foster contemplated not performing the song again, expressing concerns about being a conduit for pain. However, he emphasized the importance of artists addressing societal issues through their art, highlighting the role of music, comedy, film, storytelling, and dance in providing an outlet for societal pressures.
Watch Foster the People “Pumped Up Kicks”