Track Spotlight – Countdown (TST)

The R&B classic that we were supposed to be kneeling.

Let’s see what we have here!


After years of not using my phone for listening to music, I decided to pick it up. I ran through more than a 1000 downloaded songs in my library and found what I was listening back on January 2020. TST was a group I remembered because I saw a TheBiasList article back in early 2019 for Wake Up. I couldn’t remember the song but I truly remembered the MV.

Countdown might not have been produced by the legendary Sweetune. But it is strikingly the most iconic TST song, I can easily remember. The songwriting was horrendously overlooked by critics, the powerful cadence of the song is such a classic. It is a contender for one of the most memorable hooks in music history. It was made for success. A success that really wasn’t destined for them.

Why is nobody praising the song’s lyrical cohesion and storytelling? Is it because it is just cliche? Is it because of its lackluster depth? Those doesn’t matter if the songwriting isn’t as solid as the one presented here. Metaphorical concepts are useless when its fluidity is all over the place. TST’s Countdown is a prime example of how songwriters should create a memorable, classic and timeless piece. The cadence, soul and authenticity of the song are all packed together into a meaty rhythm. It creates an equilibrium unlike any other. It just goes to show the power of basic, and fundamental techniques of making a good song.

The chorus of the song which goes — Count down! Sarangeun shijakdwaesseo,
ttwilkka makka mangseoril shigan eopseo. Dallyeowa, neol gidarigo isseo. Teukbyeolhae, meomchuji ana.
— is already brilliantly funky and sticky to begin with. However — Areumdaun naye yeoshin only you. Keullyeoga, kkeullyeoga. Areumdawo — is the most brilliantly written hook I’ve ever heard in K-Pop. Like seriously, it was made to become a timeless classic. The cadence of that hook is exceptionally distinct and strong that it bounds to be within the song’s soul itself. It’s stacatto structure only makes it even more vibrant and authentic to hear. The vocals of TST was really defined in this release.

The rap section of the song doesn’t feel like a rotten mess of directions. It feels more like a refresher rather than a huge trap breakdown that we all hate. Obviously it dissipates the momentum of the song from that hook but the second attempt of Countdown’s rap feels more fleshed and vibrant. The urgentness of its delivery and the succesive caress of Yonghyeon’s vocals truly make the song a need rather than a want. The high ad-libs paired with the overall lo-fi funkiness of the instrumentals feel redemptive, full and liberating. I even don’t know the right words to describe how utterly neglected this song has been.

CLEF did an exceptionally arousing job in producing the song. The song’s rhythmic backbone is the most appealing of its style. The creativity of Countdown enhances many parts of a rather “awkward” and maybe “cliched” song. It reminds me of the reason why many people love 2PM’s recent Make It. It also had the same stacatto chorus, albeit more plain than the songwriting here (sorry Hottests). Many examples of a perfectly underrated song that has a similar musical direction as Countdown would be VICTON’s Nostalgic Night or Howling. It has that languid but comforting feel. It is a bittersweet foundation to a deep ermotion. I like that about the modern R&B duo/group scene. R&B wasn’t really my favorite style of K-Pop but 2019 changed my mind for the best.

The song is kind of lacking when it comes to the engineering and style department. It’s normal mixing mode is bugging me off as it gives a rather cloudly space to be at. It is in need of a remastering and possibly a remixing. I would like the instruments to be a bit recognised and not subdued by the mix. The vocals could also do a little cleaning up. As for its musical style, I guess in 2020, R&B would and could be seen as a moody K-Pop release. It wasn’t really that creative to be taking notes from that angle but if that didn’t happened then I guess Countdown wouldn’t have been born.


Overall

If I did not change my methodology recently, I could give this song a 9. In fact I was even shocked at why I only rated this one an 8.25. I think it deserves better to be honest. With that, the song is perfectly exceptional at delivery a unique taste of a group that had a lot of potential. Not until, Yohan passed away (RIP Yohan), I was very happy of the state of TST. I commemorate this post to Yohan’s 1st death anniversary. I hope many will remember this parting song as a true legend. No matter, how everyone saw it.

Lyrics9
Instrumentation8
Rap/Sung Vocals8
Musical Direction9
Song Structure8
Cohesiveness9
Record Mixing7
Song Cadence9
Musical Style7
Production8

Rating: 9

Note: Nah, as CRAVITY said, “Let’s break all the rules!” This one gets a 9. It’s a classic.

Producers: Kim Seung-ho (CLEF), Park Geon-uk (CLEF)

Songwriters: Junghoon, Kim Seung-ho (CLEF), Park Geon-uk (CLEF), O Yu-won (JessicaOh), CLEF CREW

2 Comments

  1. I may not like this just as much as you, but this really is a forgotten gem. Classy R&B with a strong beat. Too bad this was Yohan’s last release and TST’s too. RIP.

    From the classy 90s melody to the strong vocals, this is a modern classic. However, it is only my second favorite TST song, that is how much I love the incredible Paradise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I listened to Paradise after reading this comment and boy it is so amazing. Sweetune really knows how to create classics. I agree with you, Paradise might be their best song after this. TST itself is a legendary group. How I wish more people knew them! I really want people to know them so I created this post.

      Thank you for this comment 108Ent! Now even more will know the amazing singles of TST.

      Like

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