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"Pumped Up Kicks" is a song by American indie pop band Foster the People. It was originally released as the band's debut single in September 2010. Contrasting with the upbeat musical composition, the song's lyrics are written as a monologue from the perspective of a homicidal teenager, who fantasizes about murdering other youths with "pumped up kicks" with a gun.


Writting and recording[]

Soon after Mark Foster formed Foster the People in 2009, he wrote and recorded "Pumped Up Kicks" in five hours while working as a commercial jingle writer at Mophonics in Los Angeles. On the day of recording, Foster debated between songwriting in the studio and going to the beach.

Release and promotion[]

Initial attention[]

"Pumped Up Kicks" drew considerable attention online after Foster posted the song on his website as a free download in September 14 2010; Nylon magazine used the track in an online advertising campaign, and through various blogs, it went viral. Foster the People first performed the song live at the Stand Up Charity Benefit in Venice in February. The group, yet to be signed, garnered buzz with performances at the South by Southwest music festival in March.

Commercial breakthrough[]

In January 2011, the band issued their first commercial non-single release, a self-titled EP on which "Pumped Up Kicks" appeared. Around the same time, many alternative radio stations began playing "Pumped Up Kicks", including Los Angeles terrestrial stations KROQ-FM and KYSR, and it continued to gain popularity on Alt Nation. Mark Foster credits Sirius XM's airplay with the song's success, saying, "Alt Nation played our music before any other radio outlet in the country." On January 29, the song debuted on Billboard's Rock Songs chart and a week later, it debuted on the Alternative Songs chart. In May, the track debuted at number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100, and later that month, the group released their first full-length studio album, Torches, on which "Pumped Up Kicks" appears.

Music video[]

The music video, directed by Josef Geiger, features the band playing a show. There are also cuts to band members doing other activities, such as playing frisbee and surfing. The video peaked at #21 on the MuchMusic Countdown in Canada. As of 29 December 2017, the video has received over 400 million views on YouTube.


On January 27th, 2011, Urban Dictionary user anonymous0987 submitted an entry for "pumped up kicks," defining the expression as a label for expensive footwear. On September 23rd, professional dancer Marquese Scott uploaded footage of himself dancing to a dubstep remix of "Pumped Up Kicks". On October 17th, the Barely Productions YouTube channel uploaded a parody of the song. Within five years, the videos gained over 125 million and 5.4 million views respectively.

Columbine shooting remixes[]

On April 8th, 2013, YouTuber N0toriousFinN uploaded footage from various news clips and reenactments of the Columbine High School massacre with "Pumped Up Kicks" playing in the background. On November 5th, 2015, YouTuber Alan Ortega uploaded a similar montage featuring footage of the gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold with the song.

In June 2016, a clip from Season 4 Episode 2 of the television sitcom Everybody Hates Chris with "Pumped Up Kicks" playing in the background was featured in a video remix series on 4chan's /wsg/ (worksafe GIF) board. On June 22nd, YouTuber Melody Nabro uploaded a collection of the 4chan webm videos (shown below).

"Pumped Up Kicks" became one of the most popular memes in early 2018. Many YouTube users begun to create edits of the song, often combining it with other memes.