Countdown

Album: 4 (2011)
Charted: 35 71

Songfacts®:

  • This playful track samples Boyz II Men's 1991 R&B single "Uhh Ahh." "Boyz II Men were the first ones to put Destiny's Child on tour," Beyoncé told Just Jared during a pre release listening party for 4. "They showed us how to treat an opening act and I will never forget that."
  • Just Jared asked Beyoncé what Jay-Z thought of this song? "He liked it," she replied. "I don't think he was dissecting it, just thinking of what he could do to it as a rapper."
  • The line "London speed it up" references the input for 4 from DJ and house producer Switch who hails from England's capital city.
  • The song's music video was directed by Adria Petty, who previously helmed the clip for "Sweet Dreams." It pays homage to several movies including the 1957 film Funny Face, where we see Beyoncé made up to look like the movie star Audrey Hepburn.
  • The video recreates various pop culture milestones. "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," Adria Petty recalled to MTV News.

    "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."
  • Following the release of the video, Beyoncé was accused by Belgian contemporary choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker of stealing concepts from two her pieces, the 1990 Achterland and the 1983 Rosas danst Rosas. De Keersmaeker accused Knowles of copying her choreography, costumes, and sets in the clip and released a statement stating, "It's a bit rude, [...] What's rude about it its that they don't even bother about hiding it."

    In response to De Keersmaeker's comments, Beyoncé confirmed that: "the ballet Rosas danst Rosas was one of many references," for the video along with Funny Face. She added: "My biggest inspirations were the [19]60s, the [19]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."
  • The decision to sample the countdown portion of their track "Uhh Ahh" surprised Boyz II Men, even though they have a bit of history with Beyoncé. Speaking to MTV News, Wanya Morris of the R&B vocal group explained: "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.

    We all saw that she would wind up doing her thing," he added. "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."

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