Friday, December 30, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #26: "Pumped Up Kicks" -- Foster the People

It's tough to choose a favorite song off Foster the People's debut record Torches, because there's a lot to love on the album. From the piano-driven pop of "Houdini" to the greatest MGMT song MGMT never wrote in "Helena Beat," Torches will leave you downright obsessed within just one listen.

But it's hard to picture a better song than "Pumped Up Kicks." It's the song that garnered Foster the People its big break to begin with, and the song still makes its rounds on radio over a year after its initial release.

Plus, as Billboard associate director of charts/radio Gary Trust has said, "It's the perfect song." This is due to the song's inherent ability to transcend multiple genres and time periods. "Pumped Up Kicks" has elements of music dating back all the way to the midpoint of the 21st century. Folks were drawn immediately to its throwback feel, which can resonate on multiple levels for multiple types of people. Whether it's your five-year-old nephew or your 60-year-old grandmother, everyone played "Pumped Up Kicks" this year. It was everywhere.

Hilarious above all is the song's subject matter. A sunny, upbeat pop song on the surface, lyrically the song is actually about a young person's homicidal killing spree -- be it in a school, a mall... you decide.

That doesn't make "Pumped Up Kicks" an evil song, as frontman Foster has insisted that the tune is meant for discussion on the subject and preventing such an occurrence, rather than glorifying it. Of course, music is all about taking one's own interpretations from music. As such, it's easy to see why some were offended.

Although Torches is an incredibly poppy record by itself, "Pumped Up Kicks" is its chef d'oeuvre. Make no mistake -- years later, this is one of 2011's songs we'll still be singing.

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