Meaning of count it off

The phrase is from an animated tv series called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song.
You can see the full lyrics here:

This is where it first appears:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Turtles, count it off!

One, Two, Three, Four!

Wikipedia says it’s something related to music to establish the piece’s initial tempo, time signature and style. But this doesn’t appear to be related to music at all. Is it?

Perhaps it’s just because the main characters are four? Or maybe because they follow four rules?
The four rules from the lyrics

One! / Live by the code of the martial arts.

Two! / Never fight unless someone else starts.

Three! / Always stick together no matter what.

Four! / If all else fails then it’s time to kick butt! had this entry:

Count off

Count aloud from one end of a line of persons to the other, each person counting in turn. For example, The soldiers counted off one by one. This usage and the practice it describes come from the military.
But what is


To count something off means to audibly mark a group of things with consecutive numbers.

In music, the leader counts off the beats of a measure before the music begins to signal the desired tempo to the musicians.

As a way for a group of people to count itself, the group ‘counts off’ one by one until the last person has counted off. The number that the last one recites is the number of people in the group.

In these lyrics the turtles count off in several ways. They count off the beats to start the first and third verses while they’re counting themselves off one by one, and they count off the four rules they live by. Then they count off beats again during the conclusion. Because of the repetition, counting to four is a theme in the song – perhaps to emphasize the fact that they are four of them and they have four rules that they live by. The number four ties it all together simply and helps keep the audience of young children engaged.

One potentially confusing thing is when the turtles sing ‘count it off’, it’s not clear what it is. What are they counting off? To me it seems that it’s part of the whimsical nature of the song that we don’t know exactly. Songs are poetry so they don’t always exactly make literal sense like stories do. They count off beats of the song, they count the four of themselves off from one to four, they count off the four parts of their code of conduct. In this song ‘it’ is all of these things. In any case, it’s obvious that the turtles know what to count without being told. They know something we don’t know. This emphasizes the idea that they’re a tight team, perfectly coordinated, with a plan for action.

The song can be heard on

Source : Link , Question Author : user22360 , Answer Author : dwilli

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