Pages

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Pumped Up Kicks" is a Fraud

Photo Courtesy of South Brooklyn Post

The first time I listened to "Pumped Up Kicks" I heard a distinct similarity to Peter Bjorn & John's 2006 song "Young Folks". At first, I ignored the blatant borrowing Foster the People had done because I didn't think much of the song and figured it would just go away; I was dead wrong. The song has absolutely blown up and Foster the People's popularity has grown right along with it. After seeing Foster the People open for Cut Copy at Prospect Park this past Thursday and witnessing all the tweens dancing and singing along to "Pumped Up Kicks", I realize this song is here to stay and feel compelled to speak on the subject.


A lot of people on the internet have noted that the two songs sound alike but I'm going to go so far as to say "Pumped Up Kicks" is a straight up rip-off. Both songs open with just a drumbeat ("Young Folks" is so much better and complex but they're quite similar) which is then joined by a laid back bass line. The verses of both songs feature just the drumbeat and bass line accompanied by an emotionless, give-a-shit-less vocal delivery, layered with some electronic effects. The musical palette in the choruses of both songs becomes a bit more dense and vibrant as more instrumentation joins the fray. This continues for another verse and chorus and then the real kicker comes in the bridge; that fucking whistling. The whistling part from "Young Folks" that stayed in your head for days on end is straight up lifted and then thrown into the bridge of "Pumped Up Kicks".

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not calling Foster the People a fraud because they're actually a reasonably talented band capable of creating some infectious melodies ("Houdini" is a prime example). What I am saying is that "Pumped Up Kicks", which is responsible for a good portion of their success, crosses the line between homage and thievery.

The two songs are posted below so you can listen for yourself and form your own opinion.




31 comments:

  1. Someone just sounds bitter. Even if I do agree. But I've never really liked "Pumped Up Kicks."

    ReplyDelete
  2. I f---ing hate that Pumped Up Kicks song, because I didn't really like the Young Folks song to begin with anyways.

    Young Folks was on the music "loop" at my work so I'd hear it usually twice per shift.

    /me slits wrist. The whistling would just chill me to the bones, and my manager loved to whistle along, not to mention all the customers.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This style is in many songs before Peter Bjorn & John. I don't think that anyone can claim the rights of that style. Like pretty much any other style it's, the style is used too often for it to be specifically owned by one band. However, I do find it annoying that other bands that created songs just as cool as these songs never got near the same amount of attention and respect. That just how it goes I guess. I find it sickening how sheep like we can get. Not that sheep don't have their positive qualities, but yeah there is a definite negative.

    ReplyDelete
  4. After listening to both songs, yes, I can hear similarities, but I wouldn't say "Pumped Up Kicks" is a rip-off. You could say influenced, but in a good way. I think PUK is a catchier song in general and the melody is better. The voices in Young Folks are too monotone for my taste, and the drum sounds almost electronic. I would also say PUK has a happier 60's motown feel in the bass & echo effect during the chorus, whereas Young Folks has a very distinct early 70's flavor. Just my opinion, though.

    ReplyDelete
  5. OK, but what about the fact that Young Folks is based almost entirely off of the Oriental Riff? Where's your outrage about that?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental_riff

    The Wikipedia article even mentions it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I first heard this, I had the same feeling, even parts of the original song's lyrics in my head ("...on your radio..."). After a lot of unsuccessful googlings, and successful keybaord-headbangs, I finally found it. I had the lyrics wrong, the right one was. "on your stereo".

    Try this:
    Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDTZ7iX4vTQ

    Mark Owen - Four Minute Warning
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoX2ixNX6EY

    To my ear, they just sound incredibly similar. Anyone else?

    ReplyDelete
  7. yeah I get what you are saying....I realized that when I first heard it. In fact, I remember telling my girlfriend that when she heard the song on the radio in the car...I told her then...Man, Fuck them that sounds like the PB&J song...then I whistled it.... Forget the opinions on subtle differences which make it ok... NAH...they were sitting around listening to the PB&J song..thinking "I like that, let's play something like that.."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I agree with you. I honestly heard the lame PUK song today for the first time on Youtube and immediately heard YF when they hit the chorus. Add the whistling later in the song and in my mind you have a rather shameless bite on YF which makes me hate Foster the People even though I know nothing about them.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I THINK YOUR REACHING.... THE KIDS SONG SUCKS

    ReplyDelete
  10. I 100% agree with you. I found this post because I was looking to see if Foster the People credited PB & J for this blatant lift!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Honestly, so many songs have this similar style and Pumped Up Kicks just rose to popularity, there are manyyy songs with a similar whistling, bass line and laid back voice.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just wanna put "Turning Up the Radio" by Weezer out there.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8NH-sA4RJM

    I'd say the likeness is alot more apparent than it is between Young Folks and PUK. And alot of Turning Up The Radio's production was helped along by fans. So can't exactly claim they decided to base a song off an existing one.

    Also reminds me a little of "Dancing in the Moonlight" by Toploader?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm in shock... I just learned from your blog that these two tunes weren't done by the same person. PUK and Young Folks aren't the same song but lots of artistic choices are extremely similar, and since they're signature types of things, it's in questionable taste.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't disagree with the original post; but it's clear to me that PB&J were ripping off the SNL skit song "Christmas-time is here". That is the true origin of the tune.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I don't think the two sound anything alike. Straight out- Young Folks sucks and bored the crap out of me. Who are Peter Bjorn and John???

    ReplyDelete
  16. and listen to the guitar part which is just a plucked semi muted string in parts of Young Folks. It's the exact thing used in pumped up kicks in it's verses. Sometimes in their live version the mixing is off and this guitar part really stands out. it's identical.

    same effects on all the instruments including vox as well.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lol just a bunch of fucking Young Folks fan bitches. Virtually nothing about the two songs is similar. I can think of countless indie songs that have the same not-giving-a-shit sound or whatever terrible description you gave it, it doesn't mean they're all frauds.

    Oh and for the record Pumped Up Kicka is 100x the song Young Folks will ever be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, if you don't hear the myriad obvious similarities, then you are a musical toddler.

      If you want to sit at the adults' table, you'll need to grow up. If you want to keep playing with the kiddies, don't presume to be able to contribute any insight to a serious conversation about music. Just go about your business, supporting bad 'art' until the end of your days, and frustrating those of us who appreciate real ingenuity in the saga of rhythm and melody.

      By the way, I don't like either of these songs particularly, but I easily hear that FtP ripped off the other guys. And don't even try to claim that they never listened to Young Folks. Everybody's heard it.

      Delete
  18. As hard as I tried I couldn't hear anything that justified saying Pumped Up Kicks is a "ripp off" of Young Folks. The styles are similar, but there is nothing that convinces me that anything was deliberately(or even accidentally) taken from Young Folks. I can't help but think they some seriously flawed thinking is happening here. Its a style that both bands use and no specific melodies, rhythms, etc. were "ripped off".!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're in denial. It's a total rip off.

      Delete
  19. Yes, agreed, it's a blatant ripoff. I thought the same thing as soon as I heard Pumped Up Kicks. If anyone disagrees, it's probably because (a) they like the song, don't want to ruin it for themselves, and therefore refuse to look at it objectively; and/or (b) because they don't have a good ear for music.

    For anyone who's actually made music themselves, the FtP song sounds far too similar to the PB&J song. It will be harder for these people to like Pumped Up Kicks because they can easily hear how inauthentic it is.

    FtP can only get away with it because so many people don't have an ear for interesting music. These people want something to bop their heads to that doesn't genuinely challenge or excite. Simple music for simple people.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Rip off will mean different things to different people, but for me... I wouldn't call "Pumped Up Kicks" a rip off. Influenced maybe, but not rip off.

    The way the songs "flow" might be similar(you know, instruments/singing), but there's nothing wrong with that. The melodies are completely different. But I want to focus on this.

    "...then the real kicker comes in the bridge; that fucking whistling. The whistling part from "Young Folks" that stayed in your head for days on end is straight up lifted and then thrown into the bridge of "Pumped Up Kicks".

    I think you're mistaking rhythm for melody. If you really listen, you'll find that the "Young Folks" melody is completely different from the "Pumped Up Kicks" song, while the rhythm is a little similar...

    And the "young folks" whistle part is the verse of its song(and pops up a lot, not just at the bridge) while the whistling in "Pumped up kicks" is the chorus of its song, comes up at the bridge, then closes the song along with the sung vocals.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Mike "the Postman"August 1, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Look further back to 1997s MTV show Daria the Bevis & Buthead spinoff and listen to the music in the background of the episode "Malled" when the school bus pulls up to the mall of the milenium the same intro and the voice in the background is the same as well

    ReplyDelete
  22. very similar to drew carey 'cleveland rocks' theme.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THANK YOU SAM!!! I Googled 'sounds like pumped up kicks' because I KNEW something sounded like that from years ago, and of all the posts on here the one I was personally thinking of was the theme song to Drew Carey! Now I can prove to my teen that there was a similar song LOL thanks!

      Delete
  23. OMG! Both songs have a drum beat, a bass line, a chorus, and whistling! What a rip off. I mean, FTP even used the 4/4 beat and had a kick on 1 and 3 and a snare on 2 and 4! Worst of all, they both even had singing in them. No other song had done that before Young Folks, and FTP is just copying the song. What a rip off.

    ReplyDelete
  24. If I were you, I'd complain about Under Pressure and Ice Ice Baby or something. Leave this song alone.

    ReplyDelete
  25. you know theres like a classic rock version of pumped up kicks that foster the people stole.. and i know this because my local radio station 102.9 mgk (philly area) only plays classic rock n i remember hearing it a few times.. i just cant ever find it or who sang it

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yes kevin there is a classic song that looks like. But i cant still have the name of it!! Please find it

    ReplyDelete
  27. Loads of Artists take some ideas and inspiration out of other songs thats just normal. And how many songs start with a drumbeat and go over to a laid back bassline? You can't count them. So f*ck all the haters that just wanna say something bad about them this song is great whatever if it "sounds" like Young Folks. (Didn't even sound close to it). I'm seriously wondering how much of you guys actually know something about music and music history. Foster the people created their own musical style with lots of influences from other artists like all other bands.

    ReplyDelete
  28. And thats exactly why noone cares about this stupid Site..

    ReplyDelete