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Music / Foster the People

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L-R: Mark Pontius, Mark Foster, Jacob "Cubbie" Fink

Foster the People is an American indie pop band from Los Angeles formed in 2009 and currently comprised of singer Mark Foster, guitarist Sean Cimino, and keyboardist Isom Innis.

They were originally called Foster & the People, but their name was eventually changed to its current state after people misheard it as such. Mark Foster liked it so much (due to its nurturing connotation of "curing the people") that he just stuck with it.

The band rose to mainstream prominence off of the viral success of their Black Sheep Hit "Pumped Up Kicks" in 2010, through which they received a record deal and opportunities to cultivate a fanbase through shows and appearances at music festivals. After the release of their debut album Torches the following year, "Pumped Up Kicks" became a crossover hit and eventually peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album also produced other hit singles including "Helena Beat", "Houdini", and "Call It What You Want".

According to some, along with fun.'s "We Are Young", the sudden ascent of "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. Considering the song is an upbeat composition with lyrics about the homicidal thoughts of a troubled youth (which is barely implicit once you really take a look at them), another main aspect of the song's legacy is it arguably being one of the most popular examples of Lyrical Dissonance of its time, especially on the Internet, where it was turned into the go-to song for memes about school shooters.

The band has released several more albums and EPs in the years since, achieving noteworthy success again with the 2017 single "Sit Next to Me".

Foster formed the group with drummer Mark Pontius and bassist Jacob "Cubbie" Fink; Fink left in 2015 note  to pursue other opportunities, while Pontius left in 2021 to focus on raising his daughter. The other two current members, Cimino and Innis, were initially recruited in 2010 as touring members but officially joined the band in 2017.



  • Mark Foster - Vocals, guitar, keyboard
  • Sean Cimino - Guitar (2017-; touring member 2010-2017)
  • Isom Innis - Keyboard, piano (2017-; touring member 2010-2017)


  • Jacob "Cubbie" Fink - Bass (2009-2015)
  • Mark Pontius - Drums (2009-2021)


  • Foster the People EP (2011)
  • Torches (2011)
  • Supermodel (2014)
  • III EP (2017)
  • Sacred Hearts Club (2017)
  • Pick U Up EP (2019)
  • In the Darkest of Nights, Let the Birds Sing EP (2020)

Songs/music videos with their own pages:

Tropes associated with Foster the People:

  • A Cappella: "The Angelic Welcome of Mr. Jones"
  • After the End: The video for "Helena Beat", complete with packs of semi-feral kids.
  • Ambiguously Human: The supermodel from the music video to "Best Friend". She looks human at first, but her Cannibalism Superpower and abilities to unhinge her jaws like a snake and not show an inch of weight gain after swallowing another woman whole are certainly not something a normal human typically has. An animated portion of the video has her morph into a Venus flytrap-looking thing, but it's not clear if this is to be taken literally or symbolic.
  • Animated Music Video: "Pseudologia Fantastica".
  • Artist and the Band: They started as "Foster and the people", with Mark Foster in that role, but after several people misheard it as "Foster The People", they decided to opt for that name.
  • 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: Gabourey 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.
  • Death by Music Video: In the video for "Houdini" the band is rehearsing before being crushed by a collapsing light fixture, the day before their concert. Regardless, their manager decides The Show Must Go On and a crew is brought in to Dead Guy Puppeteer the band with black-suited kuroko stagehands and remote-controlled animatronics for a final wild concert.
  • 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.
  • Genre-Busting: 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?"
  • 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.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The supermodel in the music video for "Best Friend" seems to be one of these - see Ambiguously Human above.
  • 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.
  • Karmic Death: Implied at the end of "Best Friend"—the cannibalistic supermodel appears to choke to death after vomiting up the dress of one of her victims.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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", "Lotus Eater", "Orange Dream", "III", "Harden the Paint", "SHC".
  • Non-Human Head: The album art of Torches features a person with a burning matchstick for a head in the forefront.
  • Noodle People: The model from "Best Friend" becomes one after she's eaten enough people. It understandably horrifies everyone present.
  • Odd Name Out: Mark Foster, Mark Pontius, and... Cubbie Fink.
  • 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 He's 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 until Pontius' departure from the band in 2021.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Cubbie Fink. His given first name is Jacob.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Mark Foster co-composed the score to Little Boy, of all films.
  • 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.
    • As of 2017, the band is back to being a quartet after Cubbie quit the band and touring musicians Sean Cimino and Isom Innis were promoted to full-time band members.
    • The band is once again a trio after Mark Pontius left the band in 2021.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Spit Out a Shoe: Happens a few times in "Best Friend" after the woman starts eating the other supermodels. First she spits out some jewelry out into a sink after her first victim, later she coughs up a high heeled shoe, then finally barfs up an entire dress in the middle of her fashion show. Which she winds up choking on and dying.
  • 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..."
  • You Are Who You Eat: The supermodel in "Best Friend" every time she devours another supermodel she gains some aspect of their appearance, such as one woman's beauty mark and another's shapely legs. Played with in that, as the film goes on and she seemingly undergoes Sanity Slippage, she begins stealing too many physical aspects, warping her into distended, spindly caricature of a human being who horrifies the people she's trying to appeal to.


Video Example(s):


Swallow the competition

From the music video for Music/BestFriend. A jealous Supermodel swallows her rival whole and gains her facial mole as a result.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / YouAreWhoYouEat

Media sources: