Foster The People Reveal Why They Want To Retire 'Pumped Up Kicks'

By Katrina Nattress

November 23, 2019

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Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks" is one of the most iconic songs of the last decade and the track that put the band on the map. Though the alt-pop group is grateful for the single's success, they feel its message has been misconstrued since its release in 2011 and has become a "trigger" for those who've suffered certain types of trauma. For that, they've considered retiring their hit all together.

When the song was released, people loved its danceworthy beat and catchy melody without realizing the somber lyrics. “It took people a while to let the lyrics get into their bones and I think that once the lyrics got under their skin it was a bit of a slap in the face,” frontman Mark Foster told Billboard in a recent reflective interview about the track. “And I think some people were embarrassed that they didn't realize it in the beginning — that they had been dancing to it.”

Nearly a year after its initial release, the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary shooting happened, and backlash poured down on the band condemning them for glorifying school shootings, despite the fact that's not what the song is about. “I think people kind of filled in the blanks that it was about a school shooting, but I never say anything about a school in the song,” Foster explained. “It's really more about this person's psyche. Obviously the song is speaking about violent things, but it is a misconception that it's about a school shooting.”

Though unintentional, Foster The People started a dialogue about mass shootings — something that's plagued America in recent years. "At some points I make music to bring awareness to something, but I make music to connect with people, and I feel like the awareness that song brought and the conversation that song brought, that’s been fulfilled,” Foster admitted. “Shootings have continued to happen and I feel like there are so many people that have been touched either personally or by proxy, by a mass shooting in this country, and that song has become almost a trigger of something painful they might have experienced. And that's not why I make music.”

"Pumped Up Kicks" made our list of 30 Alternative Rock Songs That Defined The 2010s. See what else made the cut here.

Photo: Getty Images

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