“Pumped Up Kicks” is a song by American indie pop band Foster the People. It was released as the band’s debut single in September 2010, and the following year was included on their EP Foster the People and their debut album, Torches. “Pumped Up Kicks” became the group’s breakthrough hit and was one of the most popular songs of 2011. The song was written and recorded by frontman Mark Foster while he was working as a commercial jingle writer. Contrasting with the upbeat musical composition, the lyrics describe the homicidal thoughts of a troubled youth named Robert.
The track received considerable attention after it was posted online in 2010 as a free download, and it helped the group garner a multi-album record deal with Columbia Records imprint Startime International. “Pumped Up Kicks” proved to be a sleeper hit; in 2011, after receiving significant airplay on modern rock stations, the song crossed-over onto contemporary hit radio stations. The song spent eight consecutive weeks at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, making it the first Billboard Alternative Songs number-one single to crack the U.S. top 5 since Kings of Leon‘s “Use Somebody” in 2009. The song was widely praised by critics, and it has been licensed for use in a wide range of popular media since its release. “Pumped Up Kicks” also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The song remains the band’s most successful hit single to date.