About

Hi. My name is Hoff Matthews and this is a blog about pop culture’s winners. Every week I’ll review the works that found the most commercial success in the major categories of popular media: Albums, films, television and books. (I reserve the right to add categories like viral GIFs or whatever, but for now I’ll stick to the traditional stuff.)

I’m starting this project because I think that in today’s niche-y culture, it’s very easy to become oblivious to big, significant cultural phenomena that don’t happen to fall into the genres or subgenres that you’ve decided define your own individual tastes. I live in New York, and I think cosmopolitan city slickers like us are particularly susceptible to this kind of tunnel vision, precisely because we think we’re immune to it; we believe that the whole world comes to us and that we therefore don’t need to reach out in curiosity to the rest of society, and then we end up in our own little bubble where we think everybody watches Mad Men and listens to Animal Collective and follows all the stuff that’s actually kind of specific to our own little clique. (Or maybe that’s not true, and urban media nerds really do have their finger on the American pulse! We’ll find out!)

So the purpose of this blog is to keep track of what’s actually popular in America, and try to figure out what that popularity means. Every Sunday I’ll check to see what’s racking up the highest numbers on that particular day, and try to have my reviews up a week and a day later. Here are the metrics I’ll use:

Albums: This one’s pretty simple: The #1 album is the album at the top of the Billboard 200 chart on the week in question.

Films: Also simple: Box Office Mojo lists box office rankings, which are usually finalized within a couple of days.

TV shows: This one’s a little trickier, as TV shows generally compete within time slots rather than in one big free-for-all. I’m going to pick one day a week (Sunday one week, Monday the next week, etc.) and review the highest-rated show from that day, as measured in total viewers posted on TV by the Numbers. I could wait to see which show gets the most viewers out of the entire week, but A) I’d have to wait the whole week, leaving me with little time to actually watch and review the show, and B) I could end up reviewing the same show week after week, and I don’t want to just be an NCIS recapper.

Books: I’ll be using the USA Today weekly bestseller list. It’s not as prestigious as the New York Times list, but it groups everything together rather than separating stuff into Fiction, Nonfiction, Children’s, etc. I don’t know if I can regularly read one full book (or listen to one full audiobook) every week, but I’ll do what I can!