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Still, the group was inexperienced as a live act, and as a result, their booking agent Tom Windish secured them several club shows "to help them get their sea legs." Foster the People promoted these concerts in January 2011 by emailing fans who had downloaded "Pumped Up Kicks" from their website, notifying them of the shows.
It was released as the group'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" 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. top 5 since Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" in 2009.
I guess I wanted to reveal that internal dialogue of a kid who doesn't have anywhere to turn, and I think the song has kind of done its job.
I think people are talking about it, and it's become a point of conversation, which I think is a really healthy thing." The lines in the chorus warn potential victims to "outrun my gun" and that they "better run, better run, faster than my bullet." Foster said in a statement to CNN.com, "I wrote 'Pumped Up Kicks' when I began to read about the growing trend in teenage mental illness.
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On May 23, 2011, BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James selected the song as his Record of the Week, which ran until May 27.