Rookie of the Year

Four Days With First Aid Kit

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #102. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath, who adds any typos or factual errors that might appear within.

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I like this band called First Aid Kit. I recently caught them – a pair of singing sisters from Sweden – at the Beacon Theatre and they were great. They’re by no means my favorite band, but they’re top-flight.

A few weeks after the show, though, I noticed something that made me completely rethink my relationship with them. Apparently, I don’t just like First Aid Kit, I’m obsessed with them.

Here’s what happened: I checked my iTunes “Top 25 Most Played” list – and holy fucking shit, First Aid Kit.

Because I’ve reset it a few times over the years, my count goes back no further than about 2005 – one can only imagine how many times I’ve listened to “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” in the past quarter century, starting with that blue CD in 1994 – but it’s been tracking me long enough to reveal that I’ve listened to songs from First Aid Kit’s 2014 album Stay Gold a mind-boggling 1,429 times.

That’s an average of 143 times per song on the 10-cut record – led by the title track, which leads all songs I’ve played by any band, on any album, and which I’ve apparently listened to 244 times (that’s 116 plays more than “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?,” btw, which comes in at No. 14 by my iTunes count). Of my Top 25 Most Played Songs, Stay Gold accounts for Nos. 1, 2, 8, 10, 11, 12, 19 and 22. If you take the running times of each track on the record, multiply it by times played and then add it all up you’ll learn, like I just did, that I’ve listened to Stay Gold for a grand total of 330,117 seconds. That’s 5,501 minutes and 57 seconds. Or 91 hours, 41 minutes and 57 seconds. Or nearly four whole fucking days.

No record (thankfully) comes close.

It wasn’t my personal Album of the Year in 2014 – that was Sun Kil Moon’s Benji (and its mere 371 total track plays, though the songs are considerably longer) – but unless there is a major glitch in my iTunes counter, I have dedicated more of my listening time to Stay Gold than any other record in this timeframe, including records I strongly believe are better, and ones I like a whole lot more.

Except maybe I don’t. Maybe iTunes knows me better than I know myself. I played a Smart Playlist with every song I’ve listened to more than 20 times, and it was an awesome mix. Twice in two days it played Will Oldham’s “Strange Form of Life” (73 total times played), which might be my favorite song of the millennium, as well as Arcade Fire’s “Suburban War” (67), another candidate for the distinction.

But unless something changes – or that glitch is exposed – the iCourt has rendered its verdict. First Aid Kit is first.

And it’ll take a previously unfathomable amount of time for any record to catch them.

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Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at ESPN.com. He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.

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