Counting the Beat

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"Counting the Beat"
Counting The Beat.jpg
Single by The Swingers
from the album Counting the Beat
B-side One Good Reason
Released 2 March 1981 (Australia)
Format 7"
Recorded August 1980
Genre New wave
Label Mushroom Records
Writer(s) Buster Stiggs, Phil Judd, Bones Hillman
Producer(s) David Tickle
The Swingers singles chronology
"One Good Reason"
"Counting the Beat"
"It Ain't What You Dance, It's the Way That You Dance It"

"Counting the Beat" is a single by New Zealand rock band The Swingers released in 1981 from their album Practical Jokers (released in the USA as Counting the Beat).


The single was performed by The Swingers; the group's frontman Phil Judd was previously a member of Split Enz. Although the band had several hit songs in New Zealand, "Counting the Beat" was their only major chart success in Australia and they are considered a one hit wonder in that country. The song is well known for its catchy beat and memorable music video.

There were long delays in the release of the song: while recorded in August 1980, the final mix was not ready until November, and the decision then made by Mushroom to not release the song until after Christmas.[1] On its eventual release in February, the song was an immediate hit, reaching #1 in Australia on 2 March 1981 and in New Zealand that May (where it spent 9 weeks in the top two).[2] The song was the number one charting song of 1981 in Australia according to the Kent Music Report end of year chart. As of July 1997 it had sold over 100,000 copies in Australia.[1]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Counting the Beat
  2. One Good Reason

Music video[edit]

The song is known for its memorable music video as well as the song. The crowd at the end of the song were not actors but instead people on a 'surprise' drinking bus. One of the stops was the video shoot, where they had 15 minutes to dance.[3]

Silver Scroll[edit]

In September 2015 'Counting the Beat' was awarded a retrospective Silver Scroll award, dubbed the 'lost Silver Scroll', as the awards were not held in 1981, for reasons that remain unclear. [4]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In the early to mid 1990s, the title of the song was also the name of a New Zealand music show, broadcast on (mostly independent) radio stations across New Zealand.
  • From the early-mid 1990s until the early 2000s, the song was used as the theme for New Zealand soft drink, Lemon and Paeroa.[5]
  • Gordon Spittle authored the book Counting The Beat, GP Publications, 1997. ISBN 1-86956-213-5
  • From 1997-2002 the song was used in advertisements for K-Mart Australia.
  • In 2001, it was voted fourth best New Zealand song of all time by members of APRA, and included on the related Nature's Best CD and DVD.
  • It was included on an episode of the Australian TV series 20 to 1, covering "one hit wonders". "Counting the Beat" was ranked number 13 and was identified as Australian in origin. As The Swingers were signed with Australian label Mushroom Records and were resident in Australia at the time, the song is sometimes seen as an Australian song.
  • In 2011, MediaWorks New Zealand owned television channel TV3 used the song in some programme advertisements, Since 6 February 2011 the song is now used as their official theme song.
  • Since 2013, Countdown, a New Zealand supermarket which used the song in the ads since 2014


  1. ^ a b Green, Peter (July 1997). "Phil Judd: Bio". Biography. Frenz. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Counting the Beat: NZ Chart Listing". Archive. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Counting the Beat". Music Video. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 26 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Silver Scrolls honour The Swingers, Unknown Mortal Orchestra". Article. Stuff. Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Lemon and Paera Soft Drink: Famous in NZ". Moving Image (Commercial). NZ Film Archive. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"The Bridge" by Deane Waretini
RIANZ Number-one single
10 April 1981 (1 week)
Succeeded by
"The Bridge" by Deane Waretini
Preceded by
"The Bridge" by Deane Waretini
RIANZ Number-one single
1–8 May 1981 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Being with You" by Smokey Robinson
Preceded by
"Duncan" by Slim Dusty
Australian Kent Music Report number-one single
2 March 1981 – 16 March 1981
Succeeded by
"Antmusic" by Adam and the Ants