The song's conception was brought about by Knowles desiring to mix musical styles of the 1990s with the 1970s.
On June 24, 2011, "Countdown" was the ninth song to be chosen.
The quote found Beyoncé elaborating on the song's inspiration: "I really liked mixing the 90s with the 70s.
Featuring a sample of "Uhh Ahh" by Boyz II Men, "Countdown" incorporates aspects of hip hop, funk, reggae and world music.
According to the lyrics, the female protagonist delivers a message of monogamy for her lover, celebrating self-worthiness as well as appreciating him.
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".
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 created "of staggering simplicity and effectiveness".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".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 ".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.When I played the beat that you sent me, you should have seen how she went crazy!