100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #65: “Coming of Age” by Foster the People

The song at #65 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Coming of Age” by Los Angeles-based alternative pop-rock band Foster the People. Though I really liked their debut single “Pumped Up Kicks” a lot (it appears later on this list), it was their beautiful, introspective song “Coming of Age” that made me fall in love with them, and they’ve been one of my favorite bands ever since. I saw them in concert at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium in November 2014, and a photo I took of them has remained as my Twitter header pic since I created my account in August 2015. A few months after creating my account, I was pleasantly shocked when Foster the People followed me back, most likely because band front man Mark Foster saw his band pictured on my Twitter page.

Hard as it is to believe, prior to hearing “Coming of Age” upon its release in January 2014, I was unaware of any of their other songs besides “Pumped Up Kicks”. I’ve previously mentioned my musical awakening when I discovered the Billboard Alternative Chart in late summer of 2013, and when I saw “Coming of Age” appear on that chart, I naturally had to check it out, and instantly loved it. I then searched for more of their music and discovered their fantastic debut album Torches, which in addition to “Pumped Up Kicks” was filled with great songs like “Helena Beat”, Houdini”, “Call it What You Want” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”. When Foster the People released their second album Supermodel that March, I purchased it along with Torches, and had both on repeat for the rest of 2014.

“Coming of Age” was inspired by Foster’s experience and introspection after two years of touring with the band, and was actually the last song to be written and recorded for Supermodel. He told XFM London: “Lyrically it is almost a confession. It’s about having a moment of clarity…after the storm of touring for two years and my life drastically changing. It was kind of the first breath I had to really look around and see that there were some things that happened during that period with my friends and with my loved ones, with the people that are close to me and with myself as well. It’s about growing up.

Musically, the song is melodically complex and stunning, with swirling synths, haunting piano and gnarly guitars layered over Cubbie Fink’s thumping bass line and Mark Pontius’ aggressive percussion. I love the piano movement in the bridge, as well as Foster’s soaring heartfelt vocals that at times seem to channel his idol Brian Wilson.

The song was a hit on the Billboard Alternative and Adult Alternative charts, but unbelievably, did not chart on the Hot 100.

And here’s a cool time-lapse video showing the artwork for Supermodel, designed by Dutch artist and musician Young & Sick, being painted on the side of a building in downtown Los Angeles. With assistance from artist Daniel Lahoda, street artist Leba, and American graffiti art groups LA Freewalls and Vyal, the mural was painted over a period of 12 days, beginning the night of December 29, 2013 to the morning of January 9, 2014. Measuring 148 ft. by 126 ft., it was one of the largest murals ever created. Unfortunately, due to legal issues with both the building owners and the City of Los Angeles, the mural was later painted over.

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