Like opening presents on Christmas Eve or Uncle Ron’s mistletoe belt buckle, Norwegian pop guru Sondre Lerche has his own annual holiday tradition: covering one of his favorite songs from this year. Having reworked Animal Collective’s “Bluish” and Owen Pallett’s “Owen Takes Off His Shirt” the last two years, Lerche has now recorded a quiet rendition of Beyoncé’s giant-sized “Countdown”.
Lerche explained that the song, even with all its bombast, spoke to him in the most basic of ways:
This year, it’s officially a tradition: for the third time my annual Christmas gift to you is my humble solo acoustic version of someone else’s song; my favorite of the year, no less. In 2011 there was a tie between two incredible songs (“Changes” by Sandro Perri being the non-Beyoncé one), and both proved equally impossible to tackle or do justice to alone. But it’s what I do, and there are worse jobs, so I did it. I took the liberty of making some gender-oriented changes to the lyrics to better accommodate my macho-persona (although I wouldn’t dare tamper with Beyoncé’s appeal to all women to show their man they are the fliest simply by grinding “up on it girl, show him how you ride it”). That being said, the trick is to get passed the novelty-factor and just sing a beautiful song at the best of your abilities. Obviously, a significant part of this song’s appeal and ecstatic energy comes from the dizzying vocal performance and the mind-blowingly cool production work — elements and talents useless to even attempt replicating (especially not in my father in-law’s basement). But as long as there’s a song underneath, there’s a way. That’s how I operate. It’s what I do. Thanks for all the good times this year — and for listening. Happy Holidays, y’all.
The end result is a simple track, without pomp or circumstance or the crazy marching band, where Lerche is able to replicate not the high-energy feel, but the song’s simple message of love and dedication. Thanks to its minimalist nature, the track isn’t a corny display of pop mockery, but a demonstration of how universal great music can be. Check out Lerche’s cover below (via Stereogum), followed by the music video for the original version.
Beyoncé – “Countdown”: