Countdown (Beyoncé Knowles song)
|Single by Beyoncé|
|from the album 4|
|Released||October 4, 2011|
(New York City)
|Genre||R&B, funk, dancehall|
|Writer(s)||Terius Nash, Shea Taylor, Beyoncé Knowles, Ester Dean, Cainon Lamb, Julie Frost, Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris|
|Producer||Beyoncé Knowles, Shea Taylor, Cainon Lamb|
|Beyoncé singles chronology|
"Countdown" is a song by American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles from her fourth studio album, 4 (2011). It was written by Terius Nash, Shea Taylor, Knowles, Ester Dean, Cainon Lamb, Julie Frost, Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris and Wanya Morris. The song's development was motivated when Knowles wanted to create something different by mixing musical styles of the 1990s with the 1970s. "Countdown" was released to US radios on October 4, 2011 as the third single from the album.
Critics classified "Countdown" as a multi-genre song and praised the sampling of the countdown from "Uhh Ahh" by Boyz II Men. They compared it to singles from Dangerously in Love (2003) and B'Day (2006), noticing elements of funk music, and dancehall influences in the tradition of "Get Me Bodied" (2007). "Countdown" features a marching rhythm and contains an Afrobeat heavy brass riff. In the song, Knowles delivers a message of loyalty to her love interest and boasts of the ways they are lucky to have each other. Critics stated that "Countdown" may be the highlight of Knowles' career and the most experimental song that she has ever recorded. Following the leak of 4 in early June 2011, "Countdown" received minor rotation on radio that attributed to its debut at number 75 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, where it peaked at number 12. It also charted at number 71 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart. "Countdown" peaked at number 35 on the UK Singles Chart and number nine on the UK R&B Chart.
Adria Petty directed the accompanying music video, which shows Knowles at different stages of her pregnancy and shows her as she makes references to art, fashion, and dance styles of the past. Reviewers wrote positively when they found that Knowles could dance even though she was pregnant. They also commended how Knowles channeled the classier highlights of pop, fashion, and film's past. However, the video faced controversy after viewers found that Knowles' choreography resembles the work of Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. The song was part of Knowles' set lists during the revues 4 Intimate Nights with Beyoncé and Revel Presents: Beyoncé Live.
Background and release
"Countdown" was written by Terius Nash, Shea Taylor, Knowles, Ester Dean, Cainon Lamb, Julie Frost, Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris, and Wanya Morris. Production was handled by Knowles, Taylor and Lamb. Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris and Wanya Morris are credited in "Countdown" because the latter features a sample from Boyz II Men's 1991 single, "Uhh Ahh". A private listening party for Knowles' fourth studio album was held on May 12, 2011 at the Sony offices in New York City. Knowles offered a select group of fans a preview of five songs from her fourth studio album as well as the official video for the lead single "Run the World (Girls)". On that occasion, "Countdown" was the fourth of the five songs previewed. While playing the song, Knowles commented: "[Jay-Z] liked it. I do not think he was dissecting it, just thinking of what he could do to it as a rapper."
On June 7, 2011, both "Party" and "Countdown" leaked online, followed by the whole album, three weeks prior to its official release date, scheduled for June 28, 2011. This was followed by cease-and-desist notices from Knowles' legal team, who forced multiple media sites to remove download links to the songs. Beginning on June 16 to June 27, 2011, the songs from 4 were available to listen to in full each day on Knowles' official website, paired with its accompanying photo spread from the album packaging and an insightful quote. On June 24, 2011, "Countdown" was the ninth song to be chosen. The quote found Knowles elaborating on the song's inspiration: "I really liked mixing the 90s with the 70s. I put those two together and it was so much fun putting bridges back into songs, all the things in music that I love that I feel I just want to hear again." She also referred to "Countdown" as "really experimental". Concerning the development "Countdown" and the reason for using the sample, Knowles stated:
I wanted to do something refreshing and different, so I mixed genres and drew inspiration from touring, traveling, watching rock bands, and attending festivals… I was like a mad scientist, putting lots of different songs together. Boyz II Men were the first ones to put Destiny's Child on tour. They showed us how to treat an opening act and I will never forget that. That was 15 years ago! Wow, 15 years! I'm old.
On September 22, 2011, Columbia Records posted the cover art of "Countdown" on the official website of KZII-FM, most commonly known as "102.5 Kiss FM". It was the same photograph spread for "Countdown" in the album notes for 4 and it was taken by German photographer Ellen von Unwerth. Released as the third single off 4, "Countdown" impacted both CHR/Top 40 and Rhythmic radios on October 4, 2011 in the United States.
In an interview with Leslie Moore on Tumblr, Cainon Lamb recalled how he started working on the Boyz II Men's sample and how his work reached Knowles. He said that he began working on "Countdown" during the night preceding the 2010 BET Awards. He was in the studio, listening to Boyz II Men's song, "Uhh Ahh". He commented: "[It] starts with a countdown of '10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1'. So I thought, 'Wow, that could be something. Just the countdown itself.'" Once the countdown was in the computer, he slightly increased the pace at which it was played, added some snare drum taps to it, and started a beat. After that, he sent the song to his publisher, EMI Music. The latter was impressed with the instrumental and went on saying: "I had a meeting this morning with Beyoncé and I played a couple other songs I had and she wasn't really feeling them. When I played the beat that you sent me, you should have seen how she went crazy! She started dancing and bouncing up and down and just doing all kind of stuff. She loved that beat!" On the request of his publisher, Lamb made "a female version of the countdown part". Terius Nash wrote the verses and two days later, Knowles went in the studio and recorded it.
In an interview with Jocelyn Vena of MTV News, the members of Boyz II Men said that they were surprised that Knowles decided to use their song on "Countdown" even though they have known her for long. Wanya Morris believed that it was a "clever" move and added that "[he] guess [Boyz II Men] can say [they] finally got [their] duet with Beyoncé." Nathan Morris further elaborated, getting philosophical about the career of the Destiny's Child:
It wasn't something we expected, but we do have a bit of a relationship. A lot of people don't really know that when they had Destiny's Child, the first time they went on tour they opened up for us for quite a long time. And we tried our best to look after them and make sure everything was good. And back then they were incredible. Even that long ago they knew Beyoncé stood out from the pack. We all saw that she would wind up doing her thing. There is a connection, and at the end of the day we didn't know she would use that record. Game respects game, I guess you would call it.
Music and comparisons
"Countdown", which samples "Uhh Ahh" performed by American group Boyz II Men, was considered to be "everywhere on the genre map" by Consequence of Sound's Chris Coplan. It is primarily an upbeat R&B song, displaying elements of funk music,hip hop music,Latin pop music,world music,reggae as well as dancehall influences. "Countdown" is set in common time with a moderate tempo of 84 beats per minute. The song is scored in the key of D minor, and has the sequence Dm–Gm–F–C. Knowles' voice in the song ranges from D3 to F5. "Countdown" makes heavy use of staccato horns, and rides a "disjointed military rhythm", containing an "agitated" Afrobeat heavy brass riff which, according to Alexis Petridis of The Guardian, bears resemblance to that of "Run the World (Girls)" (2011). Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone attributed the bristling brass arrangement to the fact that Knowles collaborated with the band from Fela! for a couple of days to gain inspiration from the play's subject, Nigerian multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, Fela Kuti. Additional instrumentation on the song includes a keyboard,synthesizers, a plucky guitar, 180 BPM steel drums, and trumpets. Built on a stepping beat, "Countdown" features video-game bleeps reminiscent of Knowles' previous alter ego, Sasha Fierce, as stated by Jocelyn Vena of MTV News. Priya Elan of NME noted that it also consists of "some nicely disorientating" chord changes.
Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork Media viewed "Countdown" as a sequel to Knowles' own 2003 single, "Crazy in Love". Matthew Horton of BBC compared the musical style of "Countdown" to that of M.I.A.'s work. John Mitchell of MTV Newsroom wrote that "'[Countdown]' has a flair that reminds us of ... the best tracks from B'Day." Similarly, Matthew Perpetua of Rolling Stone wrote that "Countdown" is a "playful [and] inventive jam", in tradition of "Get Me Bodied" (2007), adding the former "revisits the "sassy spirit" of the latter. Jocelyn Vena added that while "Countdown" is different form other songs on 4, it has a "Check on It" vibe. Joey Guerra of The Houston Chronicle commented that the song shares the same "frenetic club swagger" as previous Destiny's Child's singles such as "Bug a Boo" (1999) and "Jumpin', Jumpin'" (2000).
Song structure and lyrical interpretation
Throughout the song, Knowles sings with "a sassy attitude", setting a "futuristic tone", as stated by Jocelyn Vena. According to Dombal, "Countdown" finds Knowles as the female protagonist delivering her "message of ten years of loyalty" to her love interest. Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone, who described "Countdown" as a "monogamous romance", added that it is a love song that is "no less sexy for being unblinkingly true to life", and Jocelyn Vena of MTV News wrote that the song is "all about the rapture of true love". Kicking off with a reggae-ish beat, horns and drums, Knowles starts to chant the introductory lines, which also serves as the pre-chorus lines, "Oh, killing me softly and I'm still falling / Still the one I need, I will always be with you / Oh, you got me all gone, don't ever let me go / Say it real loud if you fly / If you leave me you're out of your mind", followed by the chorus lines, which is a literal count backwards where Knowles counts down the ways in which she loves her man, "My baby is a ten / We dressing to the nine / He pick me up at eight / Make me feel so lucky seven / He kiss me in his six / We be making love in five / Still the one I do this four / I’m trying to make a three / From that two / He still the one."
According to Maura Johnston of The Village Voice, the verses of "Countdown" contain lyrics about "twinned boasts of self-worth and proclamations of fidelity into a tight knot of romantic ideals". In the first verse of the song, Knowles' chants lines dedicated to the one she loves, "There's ups and downs in this love / Got a lot to learn in this love / Through the good and the bad, still got love". The verse continues with Knowles offering her partner copious praise, in a half-rap cadence, "Still love the way he talks / Still love the way I sing / Still love the way he rock them black diamonds in that chain." As stated by Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly, the first verse of "Countdown" also contains "joy-inducing non-lyrics" such as "Me and my boof, and my boof boof riding". Additionally, Knowles sings to her love interest that he should feel lucky "to have her grind up on him." In the second verse, Knowles continues to boast of all the ways her man is lucky to have her, happily declaring her devotion to him, and celebrates their "mature relationship", as stated by Spence D. of IGN. Towards the end of the verse, Knowles references the Houston Rockets in the lyrics.
"Countdown" received general acclaim from critics, most of whom found it reminiscent of Knowles' previous releases from Dangerously in Love (2003), B'Day (2006) among others, however, with a higher level of maturity from Knowles. Adam Markovitz of Entertainment Weekly wrote that "[...] unsurprisingly, Beyoncé is at her best when she sounds like no one but herself." She also commended Knowles for "tak[ing] her trusty freakum dress out of mothballs" for "Countdown". Taking into account the track placement of the song on 4, Thomas Conner of The Chicago Sun-Times complimented "Countdown" for picking things up and to make 4 start moving near the end. He described the song as "careening into an ethnic club". John Mitchell of MTV News called "Countdown" the best track from 4, writing that it is impossible to resist to, while Jocelyn Vena of the same publication named "Countdown" the most surprising song on the album. Conrad Tao of Sputnikmusic found that "Countdown" was one of the irresistible uptempo cuts on4 and added that it makes "particularly successful use of its namesake" as well as its dancehall influences.Digital Spy's Lewis Corner gave the song four stars out of five and wrote that "combining pop-stardom and domesticity" is just one of her Knowles' many talents in the song. Ricky Schweitzer of One Thirty BPM also showed high favorism for "Countdown", writing:
"So much talk of tempo and expectation must not overshadow the greatest triumph that 4 has to offer: progression. After 4 threatens to become syrupy, 'Love on Top', comes along to pep the mood up before bursting into 'Countdown', arguably the most experimental song that Beyoncé has ever been a part of. The lead-off to the verse features a tonal progression that cannot be followed lazily and the vocals laid on top of such an audacious piece of composition are skillful and assured. The minimalistic synth that appears next may sound a bit familiar, but even if only for a few measures, Beyoncé is touching new ground here."
Eric Henderson of Slant Magazine described the song as a "hyperventilating number" which sounds like a "parody of Beyoncé's more militant hits from the tail-end of the Destiny's Child era". Henderson also favored the song's sample of Boyz II Men's "Uhh Ahh". Ben Cardew of Music Week appreciated "Countdown"'s composition and praised Knowles for experimenting with it; he thought "Countdown" was the oddest thing on the album and in Knowles' entire career. He coined the song as "a new page in [Knowles'] book". Similarly, Rich Juzwiak of The Village Voice wrote that the sample of "Uhh Ahh" provides "one in the tangled collection of hooks that is the whirlwind career highlight [of Knowles] on 'Countdown'". Erika Ramirez of Billboard magazine commented that "Countdown" has the potential to manifest "trillions of YouTube dance crazes". Chris Coplan of Consequence of Sound commented that "[...] as far as demonstrating the power of a stripped-down Beyoncé and how devastating that can be, the winner is 'Countdown'." He praised the chorus which he described as being "of staggering simplicity and effectiveness". Comparing the song to "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)", Luke Larsen of Paste magazine wrote that "Countdown" is another example of Knowles' "uncanny ability to craft songs that are irresistibly catchy but definitely not your average mainstream pop single either".
Alexis Petridis of The Guardian stated that "there's nothing like ['Countdown'] on the charts" and that the brass arrangement "stab the one moment you hear anything resembling the influences mooted in the advance publicity". Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork Media wrote that the album's best elements, thematically and sonically, burst ahead on "Countdown", which he described as a sequel to "Crazy in Love". James Reed of The Boston Globe viewed "Countdown" as a radio-friendly song, having the potential of being one of the biggest hits from 4. Echoing Reed's sentiments, Joanne Dorken of MTV UK wrote that "Countdown" is "faced-past, original and bound to be a massive tune in clubs across the globe". Dorke also noted it to be "a refreshing break from the slower part of the ". Embling of Tiny Mix Tapes stated that Knowles has not produced anything as "ferocious (or obnoxious)" as "Ring the Alarm" on 4, but "Countdown" comes close. He described the latter as having "[a] regal fanfare, a stealthy sample, and the most exuberant vocal performance of the album into a deliciously overstuffed three and a half minutes". He concluded that "Countdown" sounds like the work of an artist who is trying hard to produce a classic like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010). Michael Cragg of The Observer commended the way 4 peaks with the "incredible 'Countdown' [featuring] Beyoncé near rapping over ecstatic horn blasts".
On The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' year-end list in 2011, "Countdown" was ranked at number two. Maura Johnston of the same publication included "Countdown" on her list of 47 Great Songs From 2011. Charles Aaron of Spin magazine placed "Countdown" at number two on his list of the 20 Best Songs of 2011, writing: "'Countdown' is Beyoncé's gangsta throwdown as an artiste, bumping and grinding and skipping and skating and caressing and catcalling and bearing witness all over the beat like nobody since MJ [Michael Jackson] — full stop. The Afro brass blasts, the minimalist synth boop boop, the jazzy Boyz II Men breakdown, the syncopated shiftiness back-to-front. A masterpiece, with legs for days."Rolling Stone ranked the song at number eight on its list of the 50 Best Singles of 2011, writing that it is a triumphal love song, "slathered in crazy sauce; marching-band drums, backward-counting backup singers, honking horns", and praising its hook. Additionally, Rob Sheffield ranked the song at number 3 on his list of The Top 25 Songs of 2011 writing, "The harder she tries to come on crazy, the less crazy she sounds. She might be the most aggressively sane pop diva ever, even when she's boofing her boof boof." Consequence of Sound's staff placed "Countdown" at number four on their list of the Top 50 Songs of 2011 and wrote, "At this point in her exceptional career, Beyoncé has transcended the traditional confines of pop diva status ... Queen B has built an empire of love songs and tributes to her boo(s), but none, be it on this album or the three before, come off as easily and thoroughly as they do here. We dare anyone to resist falling under the spell of the chorus, ... the sing-along-ability, the bombastic nature, and the beat... Count it any way you want, this number’s a shining gem in Beyoncé's bangin[g] catalog."
The Guardian's critics Michael Cragg, Caspar Llewellyn Smith and Sian Rowe placed "Countdown" at numbers one, four and five on their lists of The 10 Best Tracks of 2011. The song was also ranked on The Guardian's writers' year-end list of Top 40 Best Songs of 2011 at number seven. Glenn Gamboa of Newsday placed the song at number 9 on his list of the best songs of 2011, writing, "While her ambitious '4' album was uneven, this love song, packed with stacked vocals, marching band horns and crazed synths, is irreplaceable." It was also ranked at number 12 on Billboard's list of 20 Best Songs of 2011 and number 30 on The Sydney Morning Herald's list of the Top 50 Singles of 2011. Aaron Zorgel of Aux ranked the song on their list of Top 15 Pop Releases: 2011 calling it the best song on 4.NPR's staff writers placed it on their list of 100 Favorite Songs Of 2011 writing that it was "An ode to married bliss that's also an exploding grab bag of sounds, from the Boyz II Men sample to a marching band." The staff members of Pitchfork Media placed it at number seven on their list of The Top 100 Tracks of 2011, writing:
This track is a virtuoso performance from singer and producers alike, so giddy with the thrill of having someone have your back that it can't sit still. The tempo shifts are like a smitten lover trying to calm herself down only to start babbling about how awesome everything is all over again a moment later. "Countdown" can't stop spinning out new musical ideas every few seconds because maybe this zinging synth riff or this crazy orchestral percussion crescendo will help you catch the feeling, too. Beyoncé cycles breathlessly through every vocal trick at her command, from church choir ululating to fierce fast-rap, and somehow it's both overwhelming and infectious, coming off like the most emotionally affecting sound effects record ever recorded.
In 2013, John Boone and Jennifer Cady of E! Online placed the song at number two on their list of ten best Knowles' songs writing "There's brass, a xylophone and a Boyz II Men sample. Not to mention Beyoncé rhyming, 'I'm all up under him like it's cold (winter time)' with 'all up in the kitchen in my heels (dinner time).'"
Selling 14,897 digital downloads, "Countdown" opened at number 40 on the South Korea Gaon International Singles Chart for the week ending July 2, 2011, following the release of 4. Before being released a single in the United States, it debuted at number 75 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart issue dated July 2, 2011. The song also charted at number 12 on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart issue dated July 16, 2011. For the week ending October 29, 2011, "Countdown" was the Hot Shot Debut on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart. It also debuted at number 85 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. The following week, it moved to number 77. For the week ending November 19, 2011, the song debuted at number 38 on the US Pop Songs chart. "Countdown" reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart for the week ending December 24, 2011, becoming Knowles' 17th song to top that chart.
Though not officially released in the United Kingdom, "Countdown" debuted at number 171 on the UK Singles Chart on October 9, 2011, and moved to number 77 the following week. It climbed from number 47 to 22 number on the UK R&B Chart on October 16, 2011. The song moved to number 49 on the UK Singles Chart and to number 13 on the UK R&B chart the following week. On November 6, 2011, "Countdown" peaked at number 35 on the UK Singles Chart and at number nine on the UK R&B Chart.
Background and development
On August 2, 2011, Complex magazine reported that the music video for "Countdown" was in preparations for being filmed and that it was being directed by Adria Petty, who previously directed the music video for "Sweet Dreams" (2009). Knowles was also a director for the music video along with Petty. A 38-second preview of the video was posted on MTV.com on October 3, 2011. Jocelyn Vena of MTV News wrote that the preview shows a close-ups of Knowles wearing vibrant eye makeup and a black-and-white color-block outfit. Knowles is hamming it up for the camera before panning out to reveal a look that pays homage to both Michael Jackson and Audrey Hepburn thanks to her short bangs, cropped pants, black turtleneck and exposed socks. Knowles stands in front of a black-and-white striped wall as she moves her arms like a clock. As the tease closes, Knowles shows off her pregnant profile and then appears in three different bodysuits accessorized with a black-and-white hat. A writer of The Sun compared Knowles' hair style with those of The Beatles'. The full video premiered on October 6, 2011 at 7:56 p.m. ET on MTV and Knowles' official website.
Concering the collaboration with Knowles, Petty stated: "I think whenever you work with Beyoncé it's a collaboration. She has a lot of input. And then you have the time constraints that come with working with her that push you into different directions. [...] There are countless homages to pop culture of the past in this video. I think we were playing with Mod, and '60's and '80's iconic stuff that [Beyoncé] responded to and related to." She further said that during the filming Knowles put a lot of energy and made many decisions for the finished product. It shot over a few months in various New York City warehouses. According to John Mitchell of MTV News: "[The clip is] a perfect mix of classic and modern, which seems to be what Beyoncé is aiming for in this era of her career. It is a feeling reflected in the smooth, '90s vibe and reliance on live instruments that sets her album 4 apart from her previous work as well as other artists on the charts right now." Talking about the development and the filming of the video, Petty said:
I brought Beyoncé a number of references and we picked some out together. Most were German modern-dance references, believe it or not. But it really evolved. The references were then dispersed to her creative team (hair, makeup, wardrobe), and they interpreted them on the set in their own special way. Of course, one of the strongest wardrobe references was Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face when she does the beatnik dance scene. I think a lot grew from there. [...] The shoot was great. We had a number of brilliant dancers and musicians and a top-notch crew. Beyoncé brings in a number of her own people who are so hardworking. Our video was the fourth they had shot in five days. I love the creative team that works with Beyoncé because they can roll with anything and keep smiling. Everyone was really upbeat and excited because we all love the track and the opportunity to work with Beyoncé so much.
"Countdown"'s music video is heavily influenced by 1960s pop art; it is drenched in vintage-hued colors and retro clothes. Knowles' fashion in the clip includes retro side-swept mini bangs, large lined eyes and almond-shaped pumpkin-colored nails. As stated by MTV Style, these accessories, alongside Knowles' "syncopated dancing in vibrant monochrome, wink back to that iconic Audrey Hepburn sequence in Funny Face". Knowles' make-up was by Francesca Tolot, who explained, "The inspiration behind Beyoncé'[s] brightly-lined lids came from the beatnik movement of the late '50s, early '60s. From previous experiences with Dreamgirls, I knew Beyoncé looked amazing with that type of makeup so the almond eye seemed to be the perfect fit." For the countdown part of the video, Knowles wears black and white from head-to-toe. Her ensemble is brightened up with a pop of neon orange on her stiletto nails. The first time Knowles shows her baby bump in the video, she wears a black and white dress, designed by Thierry Mugler.
Next, Knowles wears a primary color leotard Capezio collection with a black and white striped Karen Keith for Patricia Field sun hat. During the second chorus, Knowles wears a sheer American Apparel over-sized button up with high Stiletto heels. She later wears more colorways of the sheer American Apparel button-up with a tied headkerchief, changing the shoes for loafers, and a pastel palette. In a scene reminiscent of the film Flashdance, Knowles wears an off-the-shoulder Forever 21 t-shirt, showing a lilac bra strap and blunt bangs. For the Dreamgirls flashback, she wears a jeweled Chan Luu mini dress, subtle makeup with sculpted brows and a shiny, flipped bob. For the final scene, Knowles wears another black and white striped American Apparel outfit with a sleek tank, shorts, suspenders and white socks with pumps.
Synopsis and analysis
John Mitchell of MTV News wrote that, throughout the clip, Knowles is "all smiles, perhaps reflecting her joy at beginning a new phase in her life". The visibility of Knowles' pregnancy varies throughout the video, indicating she may have filmed some of the footage for "Countdown" earlier in her pregnancy and later re-shot or re-conceptualized the clip to reflect her growing belly. The clip has several references and looks, dating from the 1960s to the 1980s. Knowles reenacts a series of iconic pop images in the video.
The video opens with a close shot of Knowles' face who's wearing a similar make-up to English model Twiggy. The video then shows shots of Knowles moving her arms like a clock and wearing a black T-shirt and black trousers. Scenes similar to 1957 film Funny Face follow with Knowles looking like Audrey Hepburn. Those shots are cut by a variety of brightly colored bathing suits and a black-and-white hat, set against a constantly changing background of colors which is similar to Vogue photo shoots. Knowles' baby bump is less visible in the bathing suit scenes but is featured prominently earlier in the video. The clip cuts quickly from the bathing suit sequence to shots of Knowles in an audition space similar to the 1980 film Fame. The sequence features choreographed moves from Knowles and her back-up dancers who snap with their fingers which is a reference to 1961 musical West Side Story.
Knowles lovingly rubs her baby bump in a scene that features 10 different incarnations of herself in a loft space. According to MTV Newsroom, this is the "key scene" where Knowles puts into perspective all those aforementioned sides. Knowles references Bridget Bardot when the video cuts to and from shots of Knowles in a men's dress shirt with her hair styled up with a scarf. She also briefly references her film, Dreamgirls, more specifically the latter's inspiration, being Diana Ross, during a few brief scenes in which Knowles wears a short, sparkly dress and bob hairstyle. The clip then sequences from Fame to Flashdance with Knowles and her dancers in another open warehouse-like space sporting the iconic off-the-shoulder look from the 1983 drama starring Jennifer Beals. The video ends with Knowles in a chair, dancing and then flashing a smile.
John Mitchell of MTV News praised Knowles' dance skills and sexiness in the video despite being pregnant, and called it "a feast for the eyes" and "a perfect mix of classic and modern, which seems to be what Beyoncé is aiming for in this era of her career". A writer of The Huffington Post described the video as "characteristically kinetic". Chris Coplan of Consequence of Sound wrote that "the concept may be simple, but the intricate dance numbers (take that, Fred Astaire!) and split screen action make for an energetic cinematic affair with loads of modern swag and '60s-inspired sass." Joe Marvilli of the same publication wrote that the retro horns in the song, match the 1960s "throwback visuals" as Knowles "sashes through a variety of classy outfits and energetic dance moves. It's as full of sass and swagger, as if she'd give us any less".Entertainment Weekly's Grady Smith compared Knowles with Nicki Minaj and called the video a "typical Beyoncé dance-fest featuring frenetic movement, flashing colors, and a whole lot of sexy outfits". Contessa Gayles of The Boombox also compared Knowles' look and make-up in the video with Minaj's style. Lisa Potter of Marie Claire compared Knowles with Andy Warhol. Carrie Battan of Pitchfork Media called it a "clean and classic, filled with blocked colors, Audrey Hepburn stylings and the occasional flashing of the baby bump". Luke Jennings of The Guardian called the video a "slick, very new-retro piece of film-making, and borrowed imagery is absolutely the point of it".Stereogum wrote that the video "has [a] potential to be the most electric Beyoncé video since the immortal classic 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)'". Similarly, Matt Donnelly of Los Angeles Times described the video as "so fantastic it borders on annoying" and added that it could be a miniature version of "Single Ladies".AOL Music's Marina Galperina called the video "mod-tastic" and the editing "funky" and "collaged".
Leah Collins of Dose magazine wrote that the director "has taken everything to concoct a technicolour rainbow of retro throw-back set-pieces". Colleen Nika of Rolling Stone commented, "Already one of the year's most acclaimed pop singles, [the video] will also go down as one of the year's most stylish clips, though it didn't pull any slick maneuvers to earn that distinction", and described it as "brilliant and bright". Nika also said that the video contrasted with Lady Gaga's style and that it was another "pop art effect" for Knowles. Matthew Perpetua of the same publication wrote that the video had a "variety of dazzling looks that could definitely be emulated by fans on the cheap". He stated, "the clip is nearly as joyful and super-charged as the song itself, with its barrage of world-class hooks complemented by a rapid succession of memorable, charming and sexy images." Ray Rahman of New York magazine wrote that Knowles "packs the short video with all her classic signatures: being amazing at dancing, recruiting teams of others to be amazing at dancing, and proving how even her fingers are amazing at dancing. But also, and possibly most importantly: Babyoncé!" Kathleen Perricone of Daily News wrote that "Beyoncé's baby isn't even born yet – and already it's a star" referring to Knowles' abdomen in the video." Erika Ramiirez of Billboard commented that "even with a bun in the oven, Beyoncé can still bring it."CNN wrote that "the imagery is a hodge-podge of modern and retro styling created in an ultra-bright palette, and staccato camera work effortlessly matches 'Countdown's' beat."Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker wrote, "And though Beyoncé's video for 'Countdown' is close to the top of pack simply on the strength of extreme shoulder work, the video art form is going through a phase of robust, competitive health, probably because the money's gone."
According to MTV News, the video was well received by fans, who praised its simplicity and Knowles' "bumpin[g] belly". For the week ending October 29, 2011, the music video for "Countdown" debuted at number one on Yahoo! Video chart. The writers of Stereogum ranked it at number one on their year-end list of the best music videos of 2011. The video was placed at number five Pitchfork Media's list of The Top Music Videos of 2011, and at number four on the list of Consequence of Sound's staff, who wrote: "The flawless makeup and choreography coupled (yes, that was intentional) with calculatedly goofy facial expressions and dancing maintain the tenuous balance between idol Sasha Fierce and Bey[oncé], the girl next door. It proves to her audience that even though Beyoncé is rapidly ascending the celebrity ladder to an almost untouchable height, she's just like any other girl who secretly wants to be Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face." The writers of Slant Magazine put the music video at number 12 on their list of The 25 Best Music Videos of 2011, writing that "using jolts of pop-art colors, virtuosic editing, and a smile that spans from one tip of her bob cut to the other, Beyoncé pilfers through a very specific musical past with her customarily giddy and sincere sense of spirit." Jesse Skinner of Toro magazine put the music video at number 14 on his list of Best Videos of 2011 and noted that the video was "the most energetic clip of the year, a utilization of all things – colour, composition, movement, editing – that used to make major label music videos 'events.'" The video was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2012 BET Awards. It received three nominations at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards in the categories Best Choreography, Best Editing and Most Share-Worthy Video. The video won the Best Editing category on September 6, 2012. In 2013, John Boone and Jennifer Cady of E! Online placed the video at number four on their list of Knowles' ten best music videos, writing that the star of the video is her growing Blue Ivy baby bump.
Following the release of the video, allegations arose regarding the video's concept. In an interview with Studio Brussel, Belgian choreographer, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, accused Knowles of using concepts from two of her pieces, being the 1994 Achterland and the 1997 Rosas danst Rosas. De Keersmaeker accused Knowles of blatantly copying her choreography, costumes, and sets in the video and released a statement regarding the claim stating, "It's a bit rude, [...] What’s rude about it its that they don’t even bother about hiding it", further adding that "this is pure plagiarism". Rosas spokeswoman Johanne De Bie added about the clip: "We noticed more than a few resemblances... We have passed the details to our lawyer to see about our rights." In response to De Keersmaeker's comments, Knowles issued the following statement: "Clearly, the ballet Rosas danst Rosas was one of many references for my video 'Countdown'. It was one of the inspirations used to bring the feel and look of the song to life. I was also paying tribute to the film, Funny Face with the legendary Audrey Hepburn [...] My biggest inspirations were the 60s, the 70s, Brigitte Bardot, Andy Warhol, Twiggy and Diana Ross. I've always been fascinated by the way contemporary art uses different elements and references to produce something unique." Following Knowles' statement, De Keersmaeker wrote in a statement to The Performance Club, in which she pondered the reason that her experimental choreography took thirty years to be recognized by pop-culture and noted one personal coincidence between her original work and Knowles' re-imagining:
People asked me if I'm angry or honored. Neither, on the one hand, I am glad that Rosas danst Rosas can perhaps reach a mass audience which such a dance performance could never achieve, despite its popularity in the dance world since 1980s. [...] To conclude, this event didn’t make me angry, on the contrary, it made me think a few things. Like, why does it take popular culture thirty years to recognize an experimental work of dance? [...] with global pop culture it is different, does this mean that thirty years is the time that it takes to recycle non-mainstream experimental performance? And, what does it say about the work of Rosas danst Rosas? In the 1980s, this was seen as a statement of girl power, based on assuming a feminine stance on sexual expression. I was often asked then if it was feminist. Now that I see Beyoncé dancing it, I find it pleasant but I don’t see any edge to it. It’s seductive in an entertaining consumerist way. Beyond resemblance there is also one funny coincidence. Everyone told me, she is dancing and she is four months pregnant. In 1996, when De Mey's film was made, I was also pregnant with my second child. So, today, I can only wish her the same joy that my daughter brought me.
The director of the music video, Adria Petty, in an interview with MTV, stated that along with Knowles, they viewed some German modern dance clips as they were exploring cultural reference points, although she never mentioned De Keersmaeker specifically. Later, during an interview with magazine GQ, Petty stated that De Keersmaeker's work inspired several scenes in the music video. During the time of filming, she researched everything about De Keersmaeker's work and at the beginning she wanted to credit De Keersmaeker. Petty said, "Of course, ultimately I'm disappointed that she wasn't credited on the video because I know it was everyone's intention from the get-go. But I'm assuming that's because they were still finishing it the day that it launched and stuff, it was basically an oversight, you know?" She concluded that "very little of Keersmaeker's actual choreography inspired the finished result." An alternative video for "Countdown" premiered on November 28, 2011 and it excluded the dance moves from Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's video.
On June 30, 2011, Knowles made a surprise appearance at the Target store in Harlem, New York, where kids from the local Boys and Girls Club danced onstage to "Countdown." In the middle of their performance, Knowles took the stage and gave them a big group hug before letting them continue their routine. Knowles told the crowd, "I'd like to thank the Boys and Girls Club for coming out. I hope y'all had fun learning the choreography to 'Countdown' today." Knowles sang the song live for first time on August 14, 2011 during her 4 Intimate Nights with Beyoncé in Roseland Ballroom, New York City. Wearing a gold dress, she performed the song in front of 3,500 people and she was backed by her all-female band, which includes, among others, two saxophonists, a sinuous guitar player, a seven-piece string section, a peppy pianist, a superfluous conductor, and her backing singers, called the Mamas. Erika Ramirez of Billboard magazine commented that "fans took the liberty to create individual dances in every pocket of the stadium" when Knowles was singing "Countdown".
Referring to "Countdown" as an "experimental [and] framing an expression of artistic freedom", Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone wrote that the song "made [Knowles'] case." Jozen Cummings of The Wall Street Journal commented that "when [Knowles] went up-tempo on songs like 'Countdown', her virtuosic ability to engage in crisp choreography without cracking her huge voice took center stage." Echoing Cummings' sentiments, Mike Wass of Idolator added that "as great as those two tracks sounded live, 'Countdown' and 'End Of Time' garnered the most applause. Both were accompanied by brilliant dance routines and boast sing-a-long choruses." Jocelyn Vena of MTV News concluded that "it was [Knowles'] ability to throw a party during faster jams like 'Party', 'Countdown', 'End of Time' and 'Run the World (Girls)' that put on full display her range as a performer, dancing and singing live the entire night."
A performance of Knowles singing "Countdown" live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was taped in July 2011. The performance aired on November 11, 2011. Backed by The Roots, Knowles gave her performance, wearing a black dress. During the ITV special A Night With Beyoncé which aired on December 4 in the United Kingdom, Knowles performed "Countdown" to a selected crowd of fans. In May, 2012, Knowles performed "Countdown" during her Revel Presents: Beyoncé Live revue in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States' entertainment resort, hotel, casino and spa, Revel. The performance began with Knowles' "ululations and moans" as stated by Maura Johnston of The Village Voice. During the performance, scenes of the music video of the song were shown behind Knowles and the LED screens flashed blinding walls of color. Ben Ratliff of The New York Times mentioned "Countdown" in the "almost continuous high point" of the concert. Georgette Cline of The Boombox wrote that Knowles "got the crowd on their feet" with the performance of the song.
Cover version and usage in media
Norwegian singer Sondre Lerche covered "Countdown" in December, 2011. Lerche revealed that he decided covering the song as a "Christmas gift", because it was his favorite of the year. He further stated, "I took the liberty of making some gender-oriented changes to the lyrics to better accommodate my macho-persona... That being said, the trick is to get passed the novelty-factor and just sing a beautiful song at the best of your abilities. Obviously, a significant part of this song's appeal and ecstatic energy comes from the dizzying vocal performance and the mind-blowingly cool production work — elements and talents useless to even attempt replicating (especially not in my father in-law's basement). But as long as there's a song underneath, there's a way." His cover of the song contains his vocals and mild acoustic guitar strumming, which according to Andrew Martin of Prefix Magazine gives "an approach that puts the focus on the track's stellar songwriting". According to Mallika Rao of The Huffington Post, "Sondre Lerche made us a gift... and probably because he's a talented, popular, professional musician, it's really good". Chris Coplan of Consequence of Sound praised the cover, saying: "The end result is a simple track, without pomp or circumstance or the crazy marching band, where Lerche is able to replicate not the high-energy feel, but the song's simple message of love and dedication. Thanks to its minimalist nature, the track isn't a corny display of pop mockery, but a demonstration of how universal great music can be."
Knowles appeared on Entertainment Tonight on June 16, 2011 to promote the exclusive-to-Target deluxe edition of 4, and gave fans a sneak preview of its television commercial. The 30-second commercial, which features "1+1" and "Countdown" playing in the background, began airing in the United States on June 24, 2011. In August 2011, "Countdown" was used in a commercial for the CBS fall television series previews.
- Digital download
- "Countdown" – 3:32
- "Countdown" (RedTop Radio Edit – Clean) – 3:57
- Digital download – Remixes EP
- "Countdown" – 3:31
- "Countdown" (Reggae Rewind Remix) – 4:04
- "Countdown" (Olli Collins & Fred Portelli Remix) – 6:10
- "Countdown" (Jack Beats Remix) – 4:03
- "Countdown" (Single Version) [Music Video] – 3:32
Credits and personnel
Charts and certifications
|United States||October 4, 2011||Mainstream and rhythmic radio|
|Belgium||October 21, 2011||Digital download|
|Germany||November 25, 2011|
- "Credits". Beyoncé Knowles' Official Website. Archived from the original on June 25, 2011.
- "Beyonce Samples Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh on André 3000 Collaboration". Rap-Up. Devin Lazerine. June 4, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "BMI Repertoire Search – Uhh Ahh". Broadcast Music Incorporated. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Billboard Bits: Beyoncé Previews '4' at Listening Party, Kenny Chesney Playing Alabama Show For Charity". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. May 12, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- MTV News Staff (May 12, 2011). "Beyonce Previews 4, 'Run The World (Girls)' Video – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Kennedy, Gerrick D. (June 7, 2011). "Beyoncé's '4' leaks online, three weeks before release". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Join Us As We Count Down To '4'". Beyoncé Knowles' Official Website. Archived from the original on June 18, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Beyoncé's New Album Out Now & Streaming In Full | The Official Beyoncé Site". Beyoncé Knowles' Official Website. Retrieved August 17, 2011. (Note that you have to click on the cover art of "Countdown" to see the quote.)
- Caramanica, Jon (August 15, 2011). "Closer to Her Fans and Further Away From Her Past". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved September 25, 2011.
- Corner, Lewis (May 15, 2011). "Beyoncé samples Boyz II Men's 'Uhh Ahh' on '4' – Music News". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "KISS New Music: Beyonce "Countdown" [AUDIO]". KZII-FM. Townsquare Media. September 22, 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
- "CHR/Top 40: Week Of: October 4, 2011". R&R magazine. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- "Rhythmic: Week Of: October 4, 2011". R&R magazine. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- Moore, Leslie (October 16, 2011). "Leslie Moore Talks to Multi-Platinum Producer and FAMU Alumnus Cainon Lamb About Beyoncé’s ‘Countdown,’ the Music Industry and FAMU". Tumblr. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- Vena, Jocelyn (September 21, 2011). "Beyonce's Boyz II Men Sample On 'Countdown' Is 'Clever' Band Says". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
- Coplan, Chris (June 24, 2011). "Album Review: Beyoncé – 4". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Mitchell, John (June 21, 2011). "‘Countdown’ Needs To Be Beyonce’s Next ‘4’ Single". MTV Newsroom. MTV Networks. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Beyoncé – Countdown Sheet Music". Universal Music Publishing Group. Musicnotes.com. 2011.
- Markovitz, Adam (June 22, 2011). "4 review – Beyoncé Review". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Rosen, Jody (August 15, 2011). "Beyonce Gets Intimate in First of '4' Roseland Ballroom Shows". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Cardew, Ben (June 20, 2011). "First Listen: Beyonce's eclectic album 4 is much better than its first singles". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- D, Spence (June 28, 2011). "Beyonce: 4 Review – Jay-Z's wife returns with something new and something old on latest". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
- Martin, Gavin (June 24, 2011). "Beyonce album review: Her fourth album will prompt a mixed response from fans.". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Rosen, Jody (June 28, 2011). "4 by Beyonce". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). Retrieved Auigust 17, 2011.
- Petridis, Alexis (June 23, 2011). "Beyoncé: 4 – review | Music". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Perpetua, Matthew (June 8, 2011). "Beyoncé's '4': A Track-by-Track Breakdown". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
- MacBain, Hamish (June 21, 2011). "Beyonce – Album Review: Beyonce – '4' – Album Reviews". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Schweitzer, Ricky (July 3, 2011). "Album Review: Beyoncé – 4". One Thirty BPM. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Conner, Thomas (June 22, 2011). "CD review: Beyonce, '4' – Music: Via Chicago". Chicago Sun-Times (Sun-Times Media Group). Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Cheesman, Danielle (June 27, 2011). "Why Buying The Deluxe Edition Of Beyonce's '4' Album Is Worth It". MSN Music. MSN. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Vena, Jocelyn (June 10, 2011). "Beyonce's 4: The Most Surprising Moments – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Elan, Priya (June 10, 2011). "Beyonce, '4' – First Listen". NME. IPC Media. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- Dombal, Ryan (June 28, 2011). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Beyoncé:4". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Horton, Matthew (June 22, 2011). "Music – Review of Beyoncé – 4". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Guerra, Joey (June 26, 2011). "Review: It figures Beyoncé's 4 is another jewel". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Exton, Emily (June 8, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown’ Reviewed". Popdust. Popdust Inc. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Top 50 Songs of 2011". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. December 9, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Johnston, Maura (August 15, 2011). "Live: Beyoncé Wants To Make You (And You, And You) Happy". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
- Jones, Steve (June 27, 2011). "Beyonce shows a vulnerable side in album '4'". USA Today (Gannett Company). Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Tao, Conrad (June 24, 2011). "Review of Beyoncé – 4". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Corner, Lewis. "Beyoncé: 'Countdown' – Single review". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Henderson, Eric (June 10, 2011). "Beyoncé: 4 | Music Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Juzwiak, Rich (June 28, 2011). "Beyonce's Odes to Joy". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Ramirez, Erika (June 28, 2011). "Beyonce's '4:' Track-by-Track Review". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Larsen, Luke (October 7, 2011). "Watch Beyoncé's Music Video for 'Countdown'". Paste (Wolfgang's Vault). Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Reed, James (June 26, 2011). "CD review: Beyoncé shows a softer side on '4'". The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company). Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Dorken, Joanne (June 21, 2011). "Beyoncé '4' Track By Track Review". MTV UK. MTV Networks. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Embling (June 28, 2011). "Beyonce – 4 Music Review". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Cragg, Michael (June 26, 2011). "Beyoncé: 4 – review". The Observer (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- "New York Pazz and Jop Singles - 2011". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
- Johnston, Maura (December 30, 2011). "47 Great Songs From 2011". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved June 20, 2012.
- Aaron, Charles (December 9, 2011). "SPIN's 20 Best Songs of 2011". Spin. Spin Media LLC. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- "50 Best Singles of 2011". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. December 7, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Sheffield, Rob (December 21, 2011). "The Top 25 Songs of 2011". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- "Best albums of 2011: how Guardian critics voted". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). December 15, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "The best songs of 2011". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). December 19, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- "Songs of '11: #10-#6 Black Keys, Beyonce, The Throne, Belle Brigade, Lloyd". Newsday (Cablevision). December 29, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- "Critics' Picks: 20 Best Songs of 2011". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 13, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- Murfett, Andrew (December 14, 2011). "2011: the year in pop music". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- Zorgel, Aaron (December 20, 2011). "Top 15 Pop Releases: 2011". Aux. Glassbox Television. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- "NPR Music's 100 Favorite Songs Of 2011". NPR. National Public Radio, Inc. December 14, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
- "The Top 100 Tracks of 2011". Pitchfork Media. December 12, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- Boone, John; Cady, Jennifer (January 30, 2013). "Top 10 Best Beyoncé Songs". E! Online. NBCUniversal. p. 9. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- "South Korea Gaon International Chart (Week: June 26, 2011 to July 2, 2011)". Gaon Chart. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- "Week Ending July 21, 2011: Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Greatest Gainers)". Please note that you should launch the visualizer to see the progression of the song on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- "Bubbling Under Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- "Chart Highlights: Katy Perry Debuts On Pop Songs, Lady Gaga Leads Dance/Club Play Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. October 17, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
- Grein, Paul (October 19, 2011). "Week Ending Oct. 16, 2011. Songs: Tale of Three Divas". Yahoo! Music. Yahoo! Inc. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- "Chart Highlights: Rock Songs Chart Is Bush's 'Winter' Wonderland". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. November 7, 2011. Retrieved November 7, 2011.
- "Chart Highlights: Hot Chelle Rae Heats Up Adult Pop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 12, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "'Countdown' is #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play Chart". Beyoncé Knowles' Official Website. December 8, 2011. Retrieved December 17, 2011.
- "Chart Archive > Singles > 15 October 2011". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on November 16, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- "Chart Archive > R&B Singles > 22 October 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
- "Chart Archive > Singles > 29 October 2011". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on October 16, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- "Chart Archive > R&B Singles > 29 October 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
- "Chart Archive > Singles > 12 November 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- "Chart Archive > R&B Singles > 12 November 2011". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
- Montgomery, James (October 11, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Baby Bump Wasn't Planned". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
- Osei, Anthony (August 2, 2011). "Beyonce to Shoot Video for "Countdown"". Complex. Complex Media Network. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- "Video: Beyoncé – ‘Countdown’". Rap-Up (Devine Lazerine). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Ramirez, Erika (October 6, 2011). "Beyonce Debuts Video for 'Countdown': Watch". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Battan, Carrie (October 6, 2011). "Video: Beyoncé: "Countdown"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Anitai, Tamar (October 3, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video Preview". MTV Buzzworthy. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- Vena, Jocelyn (October 3, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video: Watch A Sneak Peek!". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
- "Beyonce Knowles is top of the mops". The Sun (News International). October 4, 2011. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
- Montgomery, James (October 5, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video A Bridge To The Past". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
- Fowler, Tara (October 7, 2011). "Beyoncé unveils Audrey Hepburn-inspired 'Countdown' video – Watch now". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi Médias. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Hyman, Dan (October 10, 2011). "Video Deconstruction: Director Adria Petty on Beyoncé's "Countdown"". GQ (Condé Nast Publications). Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- Vena, Jocelyn (October 7, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video Shoot Was 'Evolving, Spontaneous'". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Mitchell, John (October 7, 2011). "Beyonce Flaunts Baby Bump In 'Countdown' Video". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- "Beyonce 'Countdown' Music Video Look By Look". MTV Style. MTV Networks. October 7, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- "The Key Scene: Beyonce's 'Countdown'". MTV Newsroom. MTV Networks. October 7, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Demby, Gene (October 7, 2011). "WATCH: Beyonce Premieres New Video For 'Countdown', Shows Off Baby Bump". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Coplan, Chris (October 6, 2011). "Video: Beyoncé – 'Countdown'". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. Retrieved October 6, 2011.
- Marvilli, Joe (October 13, 2011). "Top 10 Videos of the Week (10/13) - Beyonce – 'Countdown'". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
- Smith, Grady (October 6, 2011). "Beyonce's flashy, colorful 'Countdown' video: Watch it here!". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Gayles, Contessa (October 3, 2011). "Beyonce Flaunts Baby Bump in Retro 'Countdown' Video Clip". The Boombox (AOL). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Potter, Lisa (October 6, 2011). "FIRST WATCH: Beyoncé bares baby bump in Countdown video". Marie Claire (Hearst Corporation). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Jennings, Luke (October 11, 2011). "Beyoncé v De Keersmaeker: can you copyright a dance move?". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved October 17, 2011.
- "Beyoncé – 'Countdown' Video". Stereogum. October 6, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Donnelly, Matt (October 7, 2011). "Beyonce goes mod for her new 'Countdown' video". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Galperina, Marina (October 6, 2011). "Beyonce Glows, Caresses Her Baby Bump in 'Countdown' Video". AOL Music. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Collins, Leah (October 7, 2011). "Watch Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video, Featuring Baby-once". Dose. Postmedia Network. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
- Nika, Colleen (October 7, 2011). "Beyonce Takes a Fashionable Trip Through Retro Cinema in 'Countdown' Video". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Perpetua, Matthew (October 7, 2011). "Video:'Countdown'". Rolling Stone (Wenner Media). Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Rahman, Ray (October 6, 2011). "Beyoncé Shows Off Baby Bump, Other Bumps in Her ‘Countdown’ Video". New York (New York Media, LLC). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- Perricone, Kathleen (October 6, 2011). "Beyoncé proudly shows off baby bump in 'Countdown' music video: Singer due in February". Daily News (Daily News, L.P.). Retrieved October 7, 2011.
- "Beyoncé shows off baby bump in 'Countdown'". CNN. October 7, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Frere-Jones, Sasha (December 9, 2011). "The Best Music of 2011: The American Singers". The New Yorker. Condé Nast Publications. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Elias, Matt (October 7, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video A Unanimous Hit With Fans". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- "Week of October 29, 2011: Yahoo Video (1–10)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- "The Gummy Awards: Your Top 10 Music Videos Of 2011". Stereogum. December 13, 2011. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- "The Top Music Videos of 2011". Pitchfork Media. December 7, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- "Top 25 Videos of 2011". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. December 8, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Staff (December 21, 2011). "The 25 Best Music Videos of 2011". Slant Magazine. p. 2. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
- Skinner, Jesse (December 13, 2011). "Best Videos of 2011". Toro. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- "Beyoncé and Kanye West Lead BET Awards' 12 Nominations". Rap-Up. Devin Lazerine. May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
- Kaufman, Gil (July 31, 2012). "2012 MTV Video Music Awards: The Nominations Are In!". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- "2012 MTV Video Music Awards – Most Share-Worthy Video". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "2012 MTV Video Music Awards – Winners". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Boone, John; Cady, Jennifer (February 1, 2013). "2013 Super Bowl Countdown: Beyoncé's Top 10 Music Videos Ever!". E! Online. E!. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- McKinley Fr., James C. (October 10, 2011). "Beyoncé Accused of Plagiarism Over Video". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- "Beyonce admits inspired by Belgian dance moves". The New York Times. Yahoo! News. Yahoo!. October 11, 2011. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- Sophie, Sophie (October 10, 2011). "Beyonce's 'Countdown' Video: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker Reacts to Plagiarism Allegations (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Daw, Robbie (November 28, 2011). "Beyonce’s Alternate "Countdown" Video Leaves Out "Inspired" Dance Moves". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
- Vena, Jocelyn (July 1, 2011). "Beyonce Surprises Fans At Harlem Target". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
- Wete, Brad (August 18, 2011). "Beyonce performs first of four-night run of her new '4' album at small NYC theater – an EW review". Entertainment Weekly (Time Inc.). Retrieved August 15, 2011.
- Ramirez, Erika (August 15, 2011). "Beyonce Owns NYC in '4' Concert Debut". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Rosen, Jody (August 15, 2011). "Beyonce Gets Intimate in First of '4' Roseland Ballroom Shows | Rolling Stone Music". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Cummings, Jozen (August 15, 2011). "Beyoncé Gets Intimate With Fans at Roseland – Speakeasy – WSJ". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company. News Corporation). Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Wass, Mike (August 15, 2011). "Beyonce’s Intimate Night At Roseland Ballroom: Idolator Review | Music News, Reviews, and Gossip on". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- Vena, Jocelyn (August 17, 2011). "Beyonce Serves Up Intimate Performance In NYC". MTV News. MTV Networks. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
- J. Anisiobi, J. (November 13, 2011). "'Now do you believe me?' Beyoncé silences phantom pregnancy rumours with a much fuller figure". Daily Mail (Daily Mail and General Trust). Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Battan, Carrie (November 14, 2011). "Watch Beyoncé and the Roots Do "Countdown" on "Fallon"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- "Beyoncé Performs ‘Countdown’ on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' (Video)". Rap-Up. Devin Lazerine. November 11, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- Young, Alex (November 12, 2011). "Video: Beyoncé and The Roots play "Countdown" on Fallon". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
- Beyoncé Knowles (December 4, 2011). A Night With Beyoncé (videoITV1). The Fountain Studios, London, United Kingdom: Victory Television Network in co-production with Sony Music Entertainment. Event occurs at 9pm.) (
- Sheridan, Emily (May 26, 2012). "'Feels so good to be back home on stage': Beyonce shows off her post-baby curves as she performs for first time since Blue's birth". Daily Mail. Daily Mail and General Trust. Archived from the original on May 28, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Johnston, Maura (May 27, 2012). "Live: Beyoncé Brings The House Down At Atlantic City's Newest Casino". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Ganz, Caryn (May 29, 2012). "Run the World (Showgirls): Beyonce Gets Back to Business in Atlantic City". Spin. Spin Media LLC. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Ratliff, Ben (May 27, 2012). "Beyoncé: Coming Back and Catching Up, Then Conquering". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Cline, Georgette (May 26, 2012). "Beyonce Sings of Pleasure and Pain During Revel Comeback Concert". The Boombox. AOL. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
- Martin, Andrew (December 21, 2011). "Sondre Lerche: "Countdown" (Beyonce Cover)". Prefix Magazine. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Coplan, Chris (December 21, 2011). "Check Out: Sondre Lerche – "Countdown" (Beyoncé cover)". Consequence of Sound. Complex Media Network. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Rao, Mallika (December 24, 2011). "Sondre Lerche Covers 'Countdown' By Beyonce: 'It's Officially A Tradition' (VIDEO)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- "Beyonce Talks Motherhood On 'Entertainment Tonight', May Join Kelly Rowland On UK 'X-Factor'". Idolator. Buzz Media. June 18, 2011. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- Bain, Becky (June 23, 2011). "Beyonce Travels The World In Her '4' Target Ad". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
- "Target Partnering With Beyonce To Release Deluxe Edition of 4". Beyoncé Knowles ' Official Website. Archived from the original on August 17, 2011.
- "Beyonce's new single 'Countdown' impacting pop and rhythmic radio on 10/4". Beyoncé Knowles' Official Website. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- "Countdown (Single): MP3 Download". Amazon.com (Germany). Amazon Inc. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
- "Countdown (Remixes) EP". iTunes Store (Germany). Apple Inc. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
- "Beyonce – Countdown (nummer)" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Hung Medien. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- "Brazil Hot 100 Airplay". Billboard Brasil (in Portuguese) (Brazil: Nielsen Business Media, Inc) 23: 81. January 2012. ISSN 977-879605400-2.
- "Chart Date: January 7, 2012". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- "Alemanha – Top Black Music". Trencharts.de. Archived from the original on November 19, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2011].
- "Nederlandse Tip Parade – 19 November 2011 Week 47" (in Dutch). Top 40 Netherlands. Retrieved January 2, 2012.
- "Week of October 29, 2011: Hot 100 (81–100)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on October 20, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- "Irish Singles Chart (November 3, 2011)". Chart-Track. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Gold & Platinum – Searchable Database – Countdown". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
- "Best of 2012 – R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
- "Countdown – Single by Beyoncé". iTunes Store (Belgium). Apple Inc. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Countdown – Single by Beyoncé". iTunes Store (Luxembourg). Apple Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
- "Countdown - Single". iTunes Store (Sweden). Apple Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- "Countdown - Single" (in German). iTunes Store (Switzerland). Apple Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- "Countdown (Remixes) – EP by Beyoncé" (in German). iTunes Store (Austria). Apple Inc. Retrieved November 26, 2011.
- "Countdown (Remixes) – EP by Beyoncé" (in German). iTunes Store (German). Apple Inc. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
- "Countdown (Remixes) – EP by Beyoncé" (in German). iTunes Store (Switzerland). Apple Inc. Retrieved November 26, 2011.