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"Houdini" is a song by American indie pop band Foster the People from their debut studio album Torches. Written by the group's frontman Mark Foster, the song was first released as a promotional single exclusively in the United Kingdom on April 1, 2011. The song was released as the album's fifth single on May 15, 2012. It is featured on the soundtrack for video game SSX and in the episode "Yes, Then Zero" of Gossip Girl.[1][2] The song appeared in the 2012 film LOL. It also appeared in the TV shows Awkward and Suits.

Houdini FTP.JPG
Single by Foster the People
from the album Torches
ReleasedMay 15, 2012
FormatDigital download
Songwriter(s)Mark Foster
Foster the People singles chronology
"Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)"
"Coming of Age"

Writing and recordingEdit

"Houdini" was written by the group's frontman Mark Foster while he was working as a commercial jingle writer at Mophonics. While showing his then-girlfriend the offices on a so-called "take-your-girlfriend-to-work-day", Foster demonstrated how he wrote songs, putting a simple drum beat and vocal sample together in 10 minutes. Four days later, he revisited the composition and began adding piano chords. Reflecting on the song, he described his then-girlfriend as a "good muse".[3]

Live performancesEdit

The band performed "Houdini", as well as "Pumped Up Kicks", on Saturday Night Live on October 8, 2011, which was hosted by Ben Stiller. American saxophonist Kenny G guested on the performance of "Houdini".[4] Foster the People performed the song on Late Show with David Letterman in October 27, 2011 along with "Pumped Up Kicks", "Helena Beat", "Call It What You Want", "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)", "I Would Do Anything for You", "Miss You" and "Life on the Nickel".

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Houdini" premiered on YouTube on April 26, 2012. James Mackey guest stars as the paramedic.


The band (Mark Foster, Mark Pontius, Jacob Fink) is filming a music video in the studio when a lighting rig falls on them. A paramedic arrives and declares them dead. The video director is devastated. A crew member calls someone he knows, a fixer, to help. The fixer arrives and his assistants take over. The assistants, dressed completely in black, stand behind the band members and move their limbs. The video crew is doubtful, but after a change in lighting and background that effectively hides the assistants, they are convinced that the fixer's plan will work. Together, the assistants and crew prepare for the band's concert that evening. Electronic controls are added to the faces of the band members, and now the illusion that they are alive is complete. The concert is a huge success, and the music video ends with the crew members partying backstage in front of the lifeless bodies of the band.

Awards and nominationsEdit

This music video was nominated for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards award for Best Short Form Music Video.

Track listingEdit

  • Digital download[5]
  1. "Houdini" – 3:20


  • Mark Foster – vocals, piano, synthesizer, percussion, programming
  • Gary Grant – trumpet
  • Mark Pontius – drums
  • Cubbie Fink – bass


Chart (2011–12) Peak
Canada Rock (Billboard)[6] 21
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[7] 70
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[8] 98
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[9] 37

Release historyEdit

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom April 1, 2011[5] Digital download Columbia
United States May 15, 2012[10] Alternative radio


  1. ^ "SSX Soundtrack To Feature Foster The People, Pretty Lights, The Naked And Famous And Many More". EA News. February 7, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  2. ^ "Gossip Girl Music - Season 5, Episode 1". The CW. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  3. ^ Graff, Gary (2012-06-12). "Foster the People: Next Album to Be 'Celebratory' With 'More Grit'". Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  4. ^ "Saturday Night Live". Archived from the original on October 10, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Houdini - Single by Foster the People". Apple Inc. iTunes UK. April 1, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  6. ^ "Foster the People Chart History (Canada Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "Foster the People Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  8. ^ " – Foster The People – Houdini" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  9. ^ "Foster the People Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "Alternative Radio Adds (May 15, 2012)". Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2012.

External linksEdit