Music: Foster The People

(l-r) Mark Pontius, Mark Foster, Jacob "Cubbie" Fink

Foster The People is an American band from Los Angeles, formed in 2009. They were originally called Foster & The People; their name was eventually changed to its current state after people misheard it as such. Founding member Mark Foster liked it so much (due to its nurturing connotation of "curing the people"), so he just stuck with it.

Along with fun.'s "We Are Young", the sudden ascent of their Black Sheep Hit "Pumped Up Kicks" is supposed to have either heralded the arrival of Generation Y's second phase or spelt the death knell of indie rock. Or both. Either way, Hipsters everywhere were dismayed to hear "their" music get mainstream airplay.

Discography:
  • Foster the People EP (2011)
  • Torches (2011)
  • Supermodel (2014)


Tropes associated with Foster The People:

  • Absentee Musician: Pontius and Cubbie on "Pumped Up Kicks." Foster recorded the whole thing by himself with the intention of it being just a demo.
  • A Cappella: "The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones"
  • After the End: The video for "Helena Beat", complete with packs of semi-feral kids.
  • Album Single: Five off of Torches, including "Pumped Up Kicks" and "Houdini".
  • Animated Music Video: "Pseudologia Fantastica"
  • Audience Participation Song: At live sets, the third-last chorus of "Pumped Up Kicks" is usually sung by the crowd.
    • During "Call It What You Want," the crowd is often prompted to answer "You say now, "what's your style?" and "who do you listen to?"" with "Who cares?!"
  • The Cameo: Gabby Sidibe appears in the "Don't Stop" video.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)" is about what a kid would do if he ruled the world.
  • Concept Album: Supermodel is meant to be one about consumerism and, in Foster's words, "the ugly side of capitalism."
  • Concept Video: "Helena Beat," "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)," "Houdini," "Pseudologia Fantastica," and "Best Friend" all have narratives in their videos, and more often than not they have nothing to do with the song itself.
  • Darker and Edgier: Supermodel is definitely lyrically and in most cases musically much darker than Torches.
  • Egocentric Team Naming
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Warrant" begins with the sound of an angelic choir, and then a minute in, the drums, piano, and bass join in, after which it's a little over another thirty seconds before the lyrics start.
  • Epic Rocking: "Tabloid Super Junkie" clocks in at six minutes, more than half of which is an extended instrumental section that gets more noisy and frantic as it progresses.
  • Gratuitous Greek: The title of "Pseudologia Fantastica" is the greek-derived psychological term for pathological lying.
  • Gun Nut: "Pumped Up Kicks" is about a isolated, psychotic teen who plans to bring his gun to school and "show it" to the cool kids who wear expensive shoes.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The "Best Friend" video features a supermodel who eats other supermodels to gain desired aspects of their appearance.
  • I Will Wait for You: "Waste" is about waiting however long it takes for somebody to realize you care about them.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Pumped Up Kicks" is a upbeat, summery song (complete with a whistling hook) about gun violence.
    • "Ask Yourself" is one of the most upbeat songs on Supermodel and while most of it isn't particularly incongruous, the second verse begins with the line, "You're coughing blood again / I know 'cause I clean up the mess every now and then," which is a little jarring.
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "Don't Stop" is about what a child would do if he ruled the world; the video involves a con man posing as a driving instructor with a fake mustache (Mark (Foster)) who fights with his student (Gabourey Sidibe), causing them to drive all over sidewalks and through buckets of paint, attracting the attention of police officers (Mark (Pontius) and Cubbie) who are after the con man and eventually stranding them all in the desert with nothing but the police cruiser and all the presumably stolen money.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: In the "Call It What You Want" video, Pontius looks at his reflection and notes that something's missing. His reflection hands him a tube of lipstick and demands he kiss him; later, we see him Covered in Kisses.
  • Miniscule Rocking: "The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones," 0:33 of pure vocal harmony.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Torches places pretty squarely around a 2-3, while Supermodel is mostly around 3-4, with "A Beginner's Guide to Destroying the Moon" and "Tabloid Super Junkie" treading a 5.
  • Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: Again rises between Torches and Supermodel:
    • Torches: rests mostly from 1 ("Don't Stop," wall-to-wall fun and childlike imagery) to 5 ("Helena Beat," which, while being about drug addiction, is never overt enough to hit a higher rating).
      • The exception is "Pumped Up Kicks," which hits at least 7 due to its theme of homicide (toward minors, at that) and implied mental illness and either neglectful or abusive father of the narrator.
    • Supermodel: from 3 ("Coming of Age," slightly angsty but mostly just introspective) to 7 ("Pseudologia Fantastica," "You'd off yourself to save your reputation").
  • Mr. Fanservice: In "Call it What You Want", Mark (Pontius) appears shirtless and Cubbie is shown in a bathtub.
  • Mrs. Robinson: The character in the second verse of "Love."
    "Sarah, she's a cougar, got moves like barracudas / On the hunt for the ones that look under twenty-two years..."
  • Murder Ballad: "Pumped Up Kicks," being about a kid who shoots his classmates. A mass murder ballad, at that.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Many people have a hard time describing the band's sound, and it's actually the subject of "Call It What You Want""
    "You're taking your words and you take your judgements and stick 'em on to everything
    If it don't conform to what you were born into, then you run the other way
    You say now "what's your style" and "who do you listen to?" Who cares?"
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Pseudologia Fantastica," "Goats In Trees," "A Beginner's Guide to Destroying The Moon," "Tabloid Super Junkie," "Helena Beat," "Houdini," "Life on the Nickel," "Chin Music for the Unsuspecting Hero"
  • Ode To Sobriety: "Helena Beat" reads like a back-and-forth between a drug addict and a recovering addict trying to get them to admit that they have a serious problem; the implication of the chorus is that the addict is so messed up that they can't stay upright without tying themselves to a chair.
    • "Best Friend" and "Goats in Trees" can also be read like this.
  • Of Corpse They're Alive: In the "Houdini" video, a lighting rig falls on the band as they're rehearsing and kills them. Their managers call in a crew to robotically reanimate their faces and turn them into literal dancing corpse puppets to put on a show. The crowd does fall for it, but the illusion ends with the concert.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted by Mark (Foster) and Mark (Pontius)
    • Odd Name Out: Mark Foster, Mark Pontius, and... Cubbie Fink.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cubbie Fink.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Mark Foster co-composed the score to Little Boy, of all films.
  • Real Life Writes the Song: "Pumped Up Kicks". One of Cubbie Fink's cousins survived Columbine. Foster himself was bullied in high school.
  • Record Producer: Mark (Foster) produced Torches with the notable Paul Epworth and Greg Kurstin.
  • Recycled Lyrics: "Don't Stop" and "Broken Jaw" both contain the line "I've broken every law."
  • Rhyming with Itself: "Don't Stop" pulls it twice, with "shoes" in the first verse and "ride" in the second.
  • Rock Trio: Although, the band used to have four primary members. They usually tour with a few other musicians in their band as well.
  • Romantic Hyperbole: "I Would Do Anything For You".
  • Sampling: "A Beginner's Guide to Destroying The Moon" samples A$AP Rocky's "LVL."
  • Scatting: "Are You What You Want To Be?" and "Pseudologia Fantastica" have hooks that go "Na-nanana-nanana-nanana" and "Doo-doo-doodoodoo-doo" respectively.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mark's dog in the "Helena Beat" music video flees after they're ambushed by a bunch of kids.
  • Shout-Out: "Call It What You Want" was filmed in the same mansion where Lady Gaga shot her "Paparazzi" video!
    • Also in the same video: during one scene, Mark (Foster) motions to shoot at his teenage fangirls. Taking the subject matter of "Pumped Up Kicks" into consideration, one could assume that Mark really likes guns, or at least it seems so.
  • Silly Love Songs: "I Would Do Anything For You"
  • Singer Namedrop: "Love" starts out, "Hello, my name is Mark..."
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: "Pumped Up Kicks" is slightly guilty of it, with the distorted vocals on the verses difficult to pick out and the chorus more or less completely intelligible.
    • "Houdini" is their worst offender, though, with "sometimes I wanna disappear" being the token understandable line among what sounds like mostly gibberish. Within the song, the bridge gets the worst of it; not only are the words (aside from the repeated "Raise up to your ability") slurred together and nigh-impossible to pick out, they're also absent from the liner notes.
  • Suddenly Shouting: "A Beginner's Guide To Destroying The Moon" is sung pretty much normally (although with frequent register changes) up until "And we've been crying for a leader to speak like the old prophets..." at the end of the second verse, which is shouted. It doesn't quite cross into Careful With That Axe territory, but it's still startling on the first listen.
  • Surreal Music Video: The "Call It What You Want" video definitely qualifies as this.
  • Title Only Chorus: "Call It What You Want"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The dog in the "Helena Beat" video runs off as soon as Foster's character gets into trouble. He never does come back.
  • Writer's Block: "Best Friend" is about this.
  • You Are Not Alone: The message of "Best Friend."
    "I'm here, no matter where you are / I'm waiting here with open arms, no matter where you are..."