Beyonce’s “Countdown” becomes party anthem

Columnist Kevin Stairiker argues that while “Countdown” may not have topped Billboard charts, it possesess a universal appeal. During winter break I found myself driving a lot. Driving to Wawa, to friends’ houses, to nowhere

Kevin StairikerColumnist Kevin Stairiker argues that while “Countdown” may not have topped Billboard charts, it possesess a universal appeal.

During winter break I found myself driving a lot.

Driving to Wawa, to friends’ houses, to nowhere at all – it didn’t really matter where. The thrill of driving after a semester of relying on my feet and SEPTA was a fleeting freedom I enjoyed wholeheartedly. But this is a music column, so where does this information fit in?

Let’s talk about driving music. Actually, let’s get really specific: Let’s talk about a driving song. I wouldn’t even limit it to just a driving song. It eventually became a walking song, a playing video games song and a general feeling-alive song. Screw it, let’s talk about “Countdown” by Beyonce.

If I was forced to review the song itself, it would consist of one single word: Woah. If I was graciously given two words, it would read: Seriously, woah.

“Countdown” is a song delivered in a golden chariot by a greater being. If anything, “Countdown” confirms the existence of a greater being, possibly one that loves getting down to marching band percussion and Boyz II Men samples.

This might all sound like really excessive hyperbole, but listen to the song and try to deny the gravitational pull that it creates. I don’t care if you’re a hardcore kid covered in tattoos or a middle-aged man with a mortgage, there’s something for everyone here.

Lyrically, the song somehow teeters the line between a genuinely sweet love song and a totally badass declaration of feminine independence – a.k.a. 95 percent of all Beyonce/Destiny’s Child jamz. Taken as a whole, there is no verse, bridge or even a chorus in a traditional sense.

Upon my first listen, I struggled to pinpoint just which set of lines could be considered the hook. Once the song ended, I realized that, dear God, the whole song is the hook. Every line is meant to be quoted and sung at the top of your lungs on a dance floor or at a house party.

It’s a true anomaly on the album that it came from.

Although “4” is a very good album, there aren’t really any songs that compete with “Countdown,” with the exception of “Love On Top” – and that song could have its own separate column. It’s as if the songwriters and producers on the album focused all of their time and energy into crafting this perfect pop single and got way too tired for the rest of the album. Her loss, our gain as listeners, I suppose.

What makes the song so worthy of note is the fact that the constant driving percussion never overwhelms the listener.

You’ll find yourself thinking “well shoot, I can’t take this. There’s no way that I’ll be able to make it to the end of the song without having to wring my shirt out from the sweat and possibly taking a nap afterwards.” Well dear friends, if you have the will to persevere, making it to the end of “Countdown” is a truly enlightening experience.

Even though “Countdown” was not only heralded as one of the best singles of the year, and maybe even of Beyonce’s career thus far, the Billboard Hot 100 charts, a long decaying relic itself, showed otherwise. According to “Countdown’s” exhaustive Wikipedia page – seriously, check that out – “Countdown” reached a measly #71 spot.

Normally this wouldn’t annoy me since music charts have been immeasurably skewed since the invention of the World Wide Web, but let’s get real: What is up with Beyonce fans and general pop music listeners? Honestly, I feel like Maximus from “Gladiator” shouting “are you not entertained?” to the huddled masses. “Countdown” is the type of song that should’ve been like “Hey Ya”– leaping all genre boundaries to reach the ears of everyone at all times and achieving ubiquity.

Instead we live in a world where only those in the loop know that when Beyonce is in the kitchen for dinnertime, she’s got her heels on. Only a small percentage of the population knows what Beyonce thinks ladies should do to prove to their men that they are indeed “the flyest.”

And most importantly, where would we, as a continually developing human species, be without the phrase “me and my boo in my boo coupe ridin’?” Nowhere, that’s where. So go find “Countdown” and listen to it. Then listen to it a couple more times.

After that, run out and find a stranger and grab their face and sing it to them. Soon, you’ll find that a dance party will have formed all around you, inspired by “Countdown” and its’ mystic, transcendent capabilities.

Kevin Stairiker can be reached at kevin.stairiker@temple.edu.

8 Comments

  1. Very good article! I have a big obsession with Beyonce’, so I was curious to see just what was in this detailed article. I must say, I enjoyed it! The only flaw is the that actual lyrics is “Me and my boo, and my boo, boo, ridin’”. Overall, wonderful article. 🙂

  2. Love the article. And she does say boo coupe ridin’. I disagree with the rest of the album though. There are gems throughout the album and I am awfully thrilled Beyonce NEVER takes the easy route in her music. It would’ve been so easy to jump on the bandwagon of mediocre dance beats like 95% of billboards top ten artist, that’s just laziness and a lack of respect for music in general. Start Over is beautiful. Run The World (Girls) continuosly fills the dancefloor and I Was Here made me cry when I watched her perform it at Roseland. It was like she was saying goodbye. we seen the stomach and we knew it was over for a while. End Of Time gets me moving regardless of my location. In a grocery store, in line at the bank, on the train… lol it’s infectious much like Single Ladies had me willfully and gleefully embarrassing myself in public whenever it came on. 4 is my go to album and I just don’t know how she’ll be able to top it. Dance For You… “I must take the time, to show you how much you mean to me.. cause you are all I need. No money can emphasize or describe the love that’s in between the lines… boy look into my eyes.” Ugh I just melt. Did you hear those vocals??!!

  3. Great article! I haven’t bought a Beyonce album since her debut solo album, Crazy in Love, because while they were good, her other albums had skippable songs. (I’m going to go get I Am though because I love the I Am side). I’m amazed that none of the songs from 4 made the top 10!

    But she’s changed it up a bit, put a little bit of everything on this album. I love it, but pop tarts might not be able to appreciate it yet because of age and im(maturity). I have played this album nonstop since I bought it over the summer.

    If you’ve followed her career since Destiny’s Chiks, then you can see her growth and it’s truly amazing. My faves are Schoolin Life, Love on Top, I Miss You, I Was Here, Lay Under Me, Dance For You and End of Time. 🙂

  4. Kev you are right about everything except one. The entire album is a masterpiece. They might not all be the same as Countdown but trust me there is a song for every mood. Crazy, mellow, whatever, 4 just hits the spot. You cannot skip past Start Over, Rather Die Young is so worth the wait as the end is just a finale, Schoolin Life and End of Time must be mentioned of course. And without a doubt, Countdown just gets the heart rate going everytime. Not to forget her career-defining I Was Here. Damn straight she was here. Glad to see an article bout Countdown, favourite song. 🙂

  5. * oh I forgot to mention Love On Top: always puts a huge smile on my face, as Bey says I just ‘grin ear to ear’ everytime.

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