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." 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. He was in the studio, listening to Boyz II Men's song, "Uhh Ahh".
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 later peaked at number 12.
It also peaked at number 71 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
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.
The song's conception was brought about by Knowles desiring to mix musical styles of the 1990s with the 1970s.
It was sent to radio on October 4, 2011 as the fourth single from 4.
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", "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." 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." "Countdown" was hugely acclaimed by 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".
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" further favoring the song's sample of Boyz II Men's "Uhh Ahh".